Can Kobe Bryant Shoot 50 Percent Next Season with Steve Nash at the Point?
The Los Angeles Lakers can expect their offensive efficiency as a team to improve in 2012-13 with Steve Nash running the point, but he should make life a lot easier on the offensive end of the floor for his superstar teammates, as well.
Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol will thrive in pick-and-roll situations with Nash, and each of them can expect an abundance of easy looks at the rim.
Even Metta World Peace's scoring average should increase if he can capitalize on the numerous open corner three-point looks he figures to get in a Nash-driven offense.
Nash's impact on Kobe Bryant might be summed up as addition by subtraction, because while the number of attempts from the field will likely go down for Bryant, his shooting percentage should go up. But how far?
Michael Jordan and Bryant are closer as players than many people give them credit for, but the one place Jordan was clearly ahead of Bryant is offensive efficiency.
Jordan managed to shoot an amazing 50 percent from the field for his entire career, while Bryant has never shot higher than 46 percent in a season.
One of the reasons Bryant has never hit 50 percent from the field is the large volume of shots he takes, which includes a number of the horrible variety.
Bryant came a close second to Kevin Durant for the NBA's scoring title last season, but he led the league in shot attempts from the field. Bryant has often been described as the best "bad-shot-maker" in the NBA, but that designation doesn't change the fact that he still takes bad shots.
And Bryant doesn't always make it easy on himself, either, as the degrees of difficulty on some of his shot attempts border on the unbelievable.
But in fairness to Bryant, it must be difficult to be your team's No. 1 offensive option and best facilitator as well.
Bryant has never had the opportunity of playing with a skilled playmaker on the perimeter like Scottie Pippen, until now.
Opposing teams will find it difficult to double-team Kobe on the perimeter when they have to worry about Howard and Gasol in the paint and Nash from long range.
Nash's primary responsibility will be guaranteeing that all of his talented teammates stay involved in the offense, and in order to accomplish that, the number of shot attempts from Bryant will have to decrease.
The trade-off, however, should mean a higher number of good shots from Bryant and more situations in which he is able to catch and release rather than having to create his own space off the dribble.
With Nash at the helm, there will be a lot less of everyone standing around waiting to see what Kobe does with the ball and more movement and fluidity in the offense.
That doesn't mean Bryant will not have moments in which he still tries to do a little to much, and for that reason, 50 percent from the field is probably not a realistic goal.
Bryant still has a chance to rank among the league's scoring leaders next season; he should just be a lot more efficient doing it. Bryant should certainly improve on his 43-percent shooting from the field last season, and 47-48 percent during the 2012-13 season seems to be in the realm of possibility.
Either number would still represent the highest field-goal percentage of Bryant's career, and either would stand as another example of Nash's ability to make those around him better.
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