It’s been absolutely horrible watching Kobe struggle so immensely to start this season and I sort of feel bad for him. This guy is the greatest player of my generation, scored the second-most points in an NBA game with 81, captured five championships and is regarded as the closest comparison to Michael Jordan but you wouldn’t know it by the way his season has started off.
15.4 points a game on 31% shooting and 7 three-point attempts per game on 19.5% shooting are not Kobe Bryant level numbers.
If he continues on that pace – I hope he doesn’t – he’ll be the first person since Joe Fulks of the Philadelphia Warriors in the 1951-52 season to have a season with 16+ FGA/game and shooting less than 32%.
No disrespect to Mr. Fulks, but it’s been that long since that feat has happened. Anyway, it seems Father Time has finally caught up with Kobe. I haven’t seen much of him this year, but what I have seen has been really unimpressive and very un-Kobe-like. His jumpshot looks flat often times, which is the reason for his poor shooting percentage and it’s obvious he’s not the explosive athlete who dominated at the turn of the century – which everyone knew would happen eventually.
When Kobe was in his prime he had a well-rounded game, no one’s going to deny that. He was adept at getting to the basket and his respectable shooting from three just added to defenders having the hardest time trying to defend him. This season he’s shooting 70% on shots inside the restricted area (0-3 ft), but only .056% of his shot attempts are inside that area and just three short seasons ago, one out of every five shots came from inside that restricted area.
Does anyone really expect a 37-year-old Kobe to attack the basket and dominate the inside like how he did when he was “Frobe”? I hope not, but you would expect him to be shooting more threes, right? Right, and he is. 42% of all his shot attempts are coming from three-point land, which is a career high, but he’s only converting on 19.5% of his threes.
This season is shaping up to be the worst season for Kobe since he was a rookie all the way back in 1996-97. I’m not sure there’s anything tougher than going through what he’s going through, especially because he’s a great winner and super-tough competitor. Would he want to come back for one more season and continue to struggle? I highly doubt it and the Lakers aren’t going to be relevant for another two seasons at least and I don’t want to imagine what Kobe would look like then.
*Featured image courtesy of Bob Galbraith / AP*