Kobe Finally Claims The Low Post

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Nov 16, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant (24) holds the ball away from Phoenix Suns shooting guard Jared Dudley (3) during the game at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

This dramatic move to the low post has been mentioned as an example of Bryant’s declining athleticism and a acknowledgement that he might not be able to get his shot off, as easily from farther out, as he had so effortlessly done in the past. This is an overstatement.

Bryant’s move to the post isn’t a concession to decline. Its acknowledgement that for the dominant Bryant to still exist, this is where he needs to do his work. Make no mistake Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers expect him to produce as prolifically as he has in the past. In the process, they want to save his legs and make the game easier for him. This is as much about a change in how NBA basketball is played as anything else. The perimeter isolation player is an endangered species. The low post  back to the basket scorer who needs to be double teamed is similarly an endangered species. Add Bryant to Al Jefferson, as the only players that need to be considered in that regard.

So far in the preseason, Bryant has shown that his unparalleled footwork, feints, and guile make him as deadly to defenses as he was 3 seasons ago when he finished 2nd in the NBA in scoring. He’ll get his 25 points a game, but its how he will do that will make this season so interesting. We’ve seen new things from him, more catch and shoots, one dribble pull ups off of screens, quick spins on the catch to confuse the defender. In time we will see the jump hooks and deep post position that comes from stronger legs.

In the 80’s and 90’s post up guards like Jordan, Mitch Richmond, and Ricky Pierce were common, due to the illegal defense rules at the time. Wing defenders were allowed to play physically in response. In today’s NBA, most two guards are smaller than Bryant and have no real experience defending the post, Klay Thompson notwithstanding. Bryant knows this, Byron Scott knows this.

The old man in purple and gold looked at his idol, studied his latter day game, and knew a time would come when he too would need to out think and out skill players. Michael Jordan with the Washington Wizards was fending off a new generation of legends that were just as big and just as athletic as he once was.

Kobe Bryant is looking at the young pups around the league and is licking his chops, he finally gets to show, in all its splendor, what he’s been working on for 19 years.

You’ve been warned.