Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant: Is the Veteran's Hot Start Sustainable?

Chris FinocchioCorrespondent IJanuary 15, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 13:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives in for a basket against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Staples Center on January 13, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Kobe Bryant went to Germany over the summer to get an experimental procedure called platelet rich plasma therapy to help fortify his arthritic knee. 

Before games, he gets numbing injections into his right wrist that help him deal with the tear he suffered in the preseason.

And he just put up his fourth straight game of 40 or more points, this time in a losing effort against the Clippers with 42 points.

Kobe is scoring like it's 2005. He's actually using a higher percentage of Lakers' possessions and assisting more than in his 2005-06 35.4 PPG season. 

ESPN's Rich Bucher ranked Bryant first among NBA players a few days ago.

But this year's version of Kobe is not attacking by getting to the rim or free-throw line like he once did. In fact, this year, 89 percent of his shots have been jumpers compared to 85 percent last year.

His knees may be better but they aren't making him play like he did in his 20s.

The big change this year has been that he's taking 9.2 jumpers from 16-23 feet and hitting 51 percent of them, whereas last year he only took 5.9 at a 40 percent clip. 

As good of a mid-range shooter as he may be, we cannot expect him to keep this up for the rest of the season.

Only bad can come from inevitably missing a number of jumpers, especially when the team has Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol in the post.



Yes, Kobe is averaging 2 more free throw attempts this year than last. But look at per 36 and it's only 1.1 more (he's playing about four more minutes a game this year). And that increase in per 36 from 7.6 to 8.7 is a 14 percent increase, but his Usage has been 14 percent higher, too. Kobe is getting to the line on 12.0 percent of his possessions down from 12.4 last year. And because Kobe mainly takes jumpers, he gets relatively few And 1's.