Why Kobe Bryant Is No Match for Kevin Durant from Long Range
For Kobe Bryant to help the souped up Lakers, he has to stop taking so many three-point shots. It sounds a bit off, doesn't it? Bryant is ultimately defined by his shooting ability and he tends to take some of the most incredible long distance shots you'll ever see. The prime example that comes to mind is his Game 6 piece de resistance against Phoenix in the 2010 Western Conference Finals:
No doubt about it, Kobe is a skilled shooter, and he is especially adept at making difficult shots. The problem is that difficult shots are, by nature, low percentage. If a man must attempt a fadeaway three pointer, I would probably nominate Bryant to do so. Over the course of a game? I would rather he strictly hoist in catch-and-shoot situations.
Shooting off the dribble has caused Kobe's three-point accuracy to erode with his hops. The above the arc shot is almost always an assisted one, as it is difficult to hit a pull up from far away. Somehow, Bryant manages to hoist an immense 35.6 percent of his threes, unassisted (via HoopData). Last season, it resulted in a meager .303 three point percentage.
Kevin Durant has a compact, quick release, that's nearly unblockable on account of his size. He is also less prone to hero shots than Kobe. Of KD's three-point attempts, only 19.5 percent are unassisted. The season before, it was 14.5 percent. In part due to wiser shot selection, Kevin Durant averaged .387 from three-point land last year.
Bryant's proficiency comes inside the arc, not outside of it. He's one of the best mid-range shooters in basketball and seems to only get better with age. Bryant shot 43 percent from mid-range, according to NBA.com. While that might not sound impressive, it's actually a very high figure for attempts that tend to be contested. Kobe managed to shoot over 40 percent from ranges three-to-nine feet, 10-to-15 feet, and 16-to-23 feet, a rare accomplishment in the modern NBA.
Though the fadeaways work for Bryant at the midrange distance, such contortions are just too tall an order from long range. He would do best to imitate Kevin Durant next season, electing to make threes off of passes.
There will certainly be plenty of opportunities for Kobe, as he's going to be surrounded by captivating talent. If Bryant elects to trade his off-dribble shots from clean, catch-and-shoots from the corner, he could make up some ground on long-range extraordinaire Kevin Durant.
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