Kobe Bryant Is Not the Clutch Shooter You Think He Is
by Calvin Chamberlain
You can find more of Calvin's great work at North Station Sports
As Kobe Bryant’s body rose up over the 6’2” frame of Charlie Bell in the closing seconds of a recent overtime game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Celtic fans and Bucks announcers across America screamed “miss it!”.
Surprisingly, the ball went in.
There is a secret the rest of the NBA doesn’t seem to know about Kobe: over the last five seasons, he has been atrocious in the final moments of ballgames. While it is true that he is clutch, leading the league in scoring with five minutes or less in the fourth quarter or overtime, when it comes to the last possession he couldn’t hit the broad side of Sarah Jessica Parker’s nose.
Kobe ranks third in game winning shots over that period of time with 16 made. Huzzah! Except, wait a minute, he has also attempted a final shot or turned the ball over a whopping 65 times, making him dead last in shooting percentage among the top 40 players in that situation at 24 percent.
Why is he so much worse at the end of the game? I don’t know, maybe it’s because everyone knows he is going to get the ball. You know it, I know it, even Larry King knows it. Teams like Miami trap Kobe 40 feet from the basket, knowing he will throw up one legged bank shot three pointers.
His self-confidence drives him to take that final shot regardless of his position and any other opportunities on the floor; resulting in a torrent of horrid shots. Also, he does not possess the pure power game to create the high impact collisions or speed game to force defenders to grab him quickly as he streaks past, forcing the referees to call fouls.
Instead, he relies on a time-consuming series of jerky motions and fakes which generate wrist and touch fouls less likely to be whistled as the game clock winds down. And Phil Jackson’s idea of drawing up a play is, “hey, one of the fans came up with a great idea. Why don’t we inbound the ball at half court?”. Come on, Phil! Run a freaking screen every once in a while!
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