Kobe Bryant is the greatest scorer of a generation and the foremost authority on all things offense. Currently fifth on the NBA's all-time scoring list, Kobe is more than 10 spots ahead of any other active player (Kevin Garnett ranks 17th) and just recently cracked the 30,000 point mark for his career.
Bryant's game has long been associated with a lethal jump shot, but there's far more to his game than just a quick, clean release.
Throughout this piece we will take a look at some of Kobe's unique moves and how they have expanded his arsenal of shots.
If you're a guard in the NBA there's an expectation that you will be able to use your off-hand as competently as your dominant hand.
It doesn't take opposing defenses long to stifle players who rely solely on their dominant hand, so the implementation of a repertoire of off-hand shots is crucial to prolonged success in The Association.
A great representation of Bryant adapting to situations with his off-hand can be seen below.
Here, against the Memphis Grizzlies, Bryant is locked into an isolation set at the end of the third quarter. A failed screen by Steve Blake beyond the three-point line means that Kobe is forced to bring the ball into the middle of the floor, where he's met by a double-team from Rudy Gay and O.J. Mayo.
Despite encountering both Gay and Mayo at the free-throw line, Bryant makes a smart choice. Instead of falling away to escape the double-team, Kobe utilizes the step-through and leans in to convert a successful left-handed jumper.
The hook shot has faded out of its prime, but that doesn't mean certain players aren't making it work to their advantage. Big men in today's NBA have failed to implement the hook shot into their game, but don't think that Kobe Bryant hasn't been working on his post moves.
Bryant has made significant efforts to improve his post-up game, even seeking out the help of Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon to help perfect his range of moves.
Kobe's dedication to honing his mid- and low-post skills is evident when you look at the progression of his hook shot.
Here we see Kobe take his defender off the dribble and slash into the paint. When he recognizes that he's drawn the attention of D.J. Mbenga, he quickly adapts and puts up a running hook that lands gracefully inside the cylinder.
An homage to the greats who mastered the hook before him, Kobe is just another Lakers star showing that he can use the shot effectively.
A second example of Kobe's hook shot comes in the low post. As opposed to the earlier example that demonstrated Kobe's ability to hit the running hook, this one shows Kobe's developed post moves.
Here, Kobe calls for the ball in the post as he realizes he has a mismatch against Martell Webster. Knowing Bryant's tendencies, Webster cuts off the baseline, forcing Kobe to turn back into the paint, and the play results in a clean left-handed jump hook.
Kobe's low-post moves have become crucial to his success at age 34, and they will continue to take on a bigger role in his game as he ages.
If there's one move that Kobe Bryant has perfected, it's the up-and-under. Whether he's using it to shield the ball around the rim or just get open looks from mid-range, Kobe has established that he's the league's most creative user of the up-and-under.
The first example of Kobe's polished up-and-under move comes against the San Antonio Spurs.
Taking Manu Ginobili off the dribble is never an easy task, but Bryant uses some crafty moves to get around the Argentinian. Using a behind-the-back dribble to give himself some space, Kobe dupes Ginobili into thinking that he's going to take a step-back jumper.
Instead, Bryant fakes the step-back and leans under Ginobili for an easy two points.
The other way Kobe tends to use the up-and-under to his advantage is on reverse layups.
While Kobe doesn't possess the speed of his youth, he's found a way to compensate. When he's able to get just a small step on his defenders Kobe heads for the baseline, where he uses the rim to shield himself from defenders.
With Corey Brewer harassing him, Bryant is able to elevate, and as Darko Milicic crashes toward him, Kobe elevates and uses the rim to shield himself from the oncoming defender. Kobe's quick eyes result in a filthy up-and-under, one of many that has contributed to 30,000-plus points.