Kobe Bryant and his Los Angeles Lakers have had somewhat of an up and down season.Trust issues between Kobe and head coach Mike Brown as well as Andrew Bynum’s childish behaviour have taken over the headlines.
Even so, a 113-108 win over the crosstown Clippers Wednesday extended the Lakers’ Pacific Division lead to 2.5 games.
And Los Angeles still holds a top-four seed in the Western Conference playoff picture, which is VERY important considering how poorly they play away from Staples centre.
BUT there’s one big problem with this Lakers team assembled to WIN NOW: Kobe’s shooting percentage is only .430 this season.
The Lakers are still winning, so why does this matter?
Kobe is a career .453 shooter.
The Lakers have NEVER won an NBA Title during years when Kobe’s field goal percentage was lower than .453.
2002-03 .451 Lakers lost in Western Conference Semifinals to the San Antonio Spurs
2003-04 .438 Lakers lost in the NBA Finals to the Detroit Pistons
2004-05 .433 Lakers missed the playoffs entirely
2005-06 .450 Lakers lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Phoenix Suns
2010-11 .451 Lakers lost in the Western Conference Semifinals to the Dallas Mavericks
2011-12 .430 ???
[data from Basketball Reference]
As you can see, the Lakers still had playoffs seasons while Kobe shot poorly, but getting to the playoffs isn’t enough for Los Angeles. The Lakers are built on the premise of “NBA Championship or bust.” Kobe expects nothing less, either.
Most of those six seasons featured Lakers teams where Kobe had to go all out and take terrible shots in order for the team to win. The 2012 version of the Lakers may have guys like Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol to help Kobe out, but he’s still taking an inordinate amount of shots.
Regardless of what Kobe says publicly, he has as little trust in his 2012 teammates as he did with those so-so clubs from a few years ago.
He may very well be completely spent come playoff time, too.
NONE of this bodes well for the Lakers’ postseason chances.
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