Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.
Let’s talk about Kobe’s game: Does he need to change it for the Lakers to be more successful? If so, in what ways?
Steve Aschburner: The only place I’d consider asking Kobe Bryant to change his game at this point would be to take fewer 3-point shots. His 29.2 percentage from out there is the second-worst of his career and he’s shooting them more often than he has in six years. Might have something to do with what the refs’ “points of emphasis” aren’t rewarding these days (sorry, arm swipes and leg kicks). Beyond that, though, the Lakers need Kobe being Kobe – which he does better than just about anyone else – but just a little less of it than 38.7 minutes nightly at age 33, please.
Fran Blinebury: Kobe leads the league in scoring, ranks third in minutes played and has a team that everyone has said all year is flawed leading the Pacific Division, the No. 3 seed in the West and with the sixth-best record in the entire league. Now in his 16th season you’re going to change him because his shooting percentage is down and he missed a bunch of shots against the Jazz? I don’t think so.
Scott Howard-Cooper: No, but I nonetheless admire the fantasy world you live in just to ask the question about Kobe changing. He is still playing at an elite level, yet Andrew Bynum has developed into a force. Bynum is very involved in the offense, though partly on his own doing with rebounds. Pau Gasol is still involved in the offense.
Shaun Powell: Kobe shouldn’t change his game until and unless the Lakers change his supporting cast. As in, if they acquired another high-level scorer who needed shots. Beyond that, Kobe needs to be Kobe, and anyway, change for him would be difficult unless it was forced upon him for injury reasons. Kobe passing up shots for Steve Blake will not make the Lakers better, nor would it make Blake better.
John Schuhmann: Simply, he’s got to have more trust in his teammates. This isn’t 2006, Ramon Sessions isn’t Smush Parker, and Pau Gasol isn’t Kwame Brown. With all their talent, the Lakers are just an average offensive team this season. Andrew Bynum has seemingly taken a big step forward, so why is Bryant’s usage rate up and assist rate down from last year? It would also help if he shot fewer threes and got to the line more often. In clutch time (last five minutes of the fourth quarter or OT with a score differential of five points or less) this season, he’s attempted 98 shots from the field and only 38 free throws.
Sekou Smith: Telling the league’s leading scorer to tweak his game some 16 years into his career seems a bit foolish. But not this time. The formula for Kobe Bean Bryant is pretty simple, feed the big dogs sir. Bryant has 15 feet of big men hanging out on the low block. There’s no need to fight the power when Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol are more than capable of helping carry the load for the Lakers. Bryant does not have to do it all alone. And that’s where he’s always run into trouble, locking into that me-against-the-world mode world when he doesn’t have to. Feed the big dogs and the Lakers will be just fine.