Friday, January 13, 2012

Kobe--Killing the Lakers?

Wake up, Laker fans.

It's surprising that so few of you can see how Kobe Bryant is damaging the Lakers by hogging the offense.
On the one hand it's admirable that this aging athlete can score 40-plus points in back-to back games. Props to him for those feats, for being the main cog in the Phoenix and Utah wins.

But, for a moment, think long range. Apply the formula that sealed those two victories to games with Boston or Oklahoma City or Chicago or any other good team. Can the Lakers beat top-notch teams with Kobe in ball-hog mode? No way.  They'll double team him and dare the rest of the Lakers to beat them. What works against mid-level teams like Phoenix and Utah, will flop against the big boys.

To beat the Bostons and Chicagos, a balanced offense is crucial. That means Kobe taking 18-20 shots, not 30-35. That means a stronger interior offense, with Andrew Bynum and Paul Gasol taking charge. When Kobe is dominating, the others stand around and watch, and don't sharpen their shooting and passing skills. If Kobe keeps playing that way, the other players won't get much practice working in a balanced offense.The goal should be getting the ball inside to the 7-footers, not setting up Bryant.

Remember, Bryant is getting old. The energy that's fuelling these high-scoring efforts may not be there at the end of the season. Instead of using so much of that energy at this stage, he'd be wise to conserve some of it for later, when it's playoff time. If the Lakers get used to Kobe's scoring excesses, they're not going to play well when he's worn out or a step slower and can't deliver.

Sure, Laker fans, it's fun to watch Kobe go on scoring binges against weaker teams. But look beyond instant entertainment. Think about what's best for the team. It's balance, not Bryant ball-hogging.