Five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant had the worst shooting percentage last year of his entire career. Kobe shot 43 percent from the floor last season and not since his second year with the Los Angeles Lakers had the perennial All-Star’s shooting percentage dipped that low.
As a result of the poor shooting last season, many believed that Kobe’s skills may very well be on the decline. Even though Kobe led the league in scoring for the majority of last season and conceded the scoring title to Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant in the final game of the regular season, Kobe wasn’t efficient shooting the basketball and received a fair amount of criticism for it.
Ironically enough, after 14 games played in the 2012-13 season, Kobe is shooting the best percentage of his career. Kobe is shooting a career high 51 percent overall, and 41.5 percent from beyond the arc.
There’s no doubt that Kobe is a freak of nature when it comes down to his sustainability, but many people have wondered why Kobe has experienced such a drastic turnaround in shooting efficiency. Kobe gives the answer via ESPN’s Dave McMenamin:
“I think the system has a lot to do with it,” Bryant said Monday. “The floor is spaced out a little bit more. I can penetrate to the basket and get to the free throw line a lot more.”
The same drastic change was also seen in Steve Nash’s numbers in his first season with the Phoenix Suns. Nash’s efficiency went through the roof under Mike D’Antoni after leaving the Dallas Mavericks, going from 47 percent from the floor and 40.5 percent from beyond the arc to 50.2 percent overall and 43 percent from beyond the arc. Additionally, Nash dished out 11.5 assists per game in comparison to 8.8 with the Mavericks the previous year.
The transition to D’Antoni’s system worked for Nash and appears to be doing the same for Kobe. There are still a lot of games left to be played and the team has yet to reach its true potential without Nash on the floor, but Kobe seems to be benefiting from the system change more than anyone else.
It remains to be seen if Kobe can keep up with the fast-paced style of offense given the many miles on his legs, but so far, Kobe has been very impressive.