Kobe Will Help, Farmar Injury Hurts


VIDEO: The GameTime crew discusses the latest on Kobe

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Kobe Bryant is getting closer to his return. Barring a big surprise, it won’t come Friday in Sacramento, but he hasn’t ruled out playing Sunday against Toronto (9:30 p.m. ET, NBA TV). Sunday Lakers games against the Raptors obviously bring back great memories.

Some thought Bryant would return for the start of the season. Some thought he’d be back around Christmas. Few thought the Lakers would win nine games in his absence.

They’ve won nine games with Steve Nash barely contributing and with Pau Gasol shooting a career-low 42 percent. In addition to Gasol, Steve Blake is the only Laker to have started all 18 games and L.A. has been outscored by 116 points (9.7 points per 100 possessions) in Blake’s 559 minutes on the floor.

In 491 minutes with Blake and Gasol on the floor (the most minutes of any L.A. two-man combination), L.A. is a minus-134. And that’s not just because they’ve lost five games by double-digits. They’ve been outscored with the starting pair on the floor together in five of their nine wins.

So how have they won when their starters have been getting blown out  in games?

Bench play.

Jordan Farmar (Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE)

Jordan Farmar
(Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE)

The Lakers lead the league with 47.7 bench points a game. Still, bench points don’t always equate to bench success. The Lakers have been much better defensively, too, with their bench in the game. More important than the scoring is that the Lakers are a plus-76 with Jordan Farmar (who hasn’t started a single game) and Xavier Henry (who has started two) on the floor.

The starters have put them in holes. The reserves have dug out of them.

Offensively, the Lakers have shot better, turned the ball over less, got to the free-throw line more and grabbed more rebounds once the bench is in. Shot selection is a factor. Gasol, who starts, has taken more than twice as many shots from mid-range (116) as he has from the restricted area (56). Nobody on the Lakers gets to the basket very often, but restricted-area shots and 3-point attempts* are both up when the bench is in.

* The Lakers have attempted 64.3 percent of their shots from the restricted area or 3-point range with Farmar and Henry on the floor, but just 53.9 percent with Blake and Gasol on the floor.

Defensively, it’s no surprise that the Lakers haven’t been stopping opponents with Blake, Gasol, Jodie Meeks, Wesley Johnson and Jordan Hill on the floor. What has been surprising is that they are defending well when they’ve put Farmar, Henry, Nick Young and Shawne Williams out there. Young and Williams aren’t exactly Paul George and Roy Hibbert, but they’ve managed to get stops at a similar rate.

In 90 minutes with those four guys on the floor, L.A. has allowed a paltry 77.3 points per 100 possessions. That includes 12 minutes against the Warriors in which they allowed a top-10 offense to score only 14 points. That number certainly smells a little flukey, but it’s a big reason the Lakers have won nine games.

So where does Bryant fit in? Well, even if he’s not himself offensively and is the liability he was last year defensively, he can’t hurt that starting lineup. The Lakers have been outscored by 8.8 points per 100 possessions in the first six minutes of games, the sixth-worst mark in the league.

Gasol leads the team in field-goal attempts per minute and ranks 188th in effective field-goal percentage among 209 players who have attempted at least 100 shots this season. So if Bryant takes some of those shots away, the Lakers would probably be a better team.

Will he stifle the ball movement? Sure, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. With Blake and Gasol on the floor, the Lakers have assisted on 68 percent of their shots and scored only 95.4 points per 100 possessions. With Farmar and Henry on the floor, they’ve assisted on just 56 percent and scored 109.2 points per 100 possessions. A higher assist rate does not necessarily equate to better offense. The Lakers have consistently had lower assist rates and much more efficient offense with Bryant on the floor.

While Bryant’s return will help the starters, Farmar’s absence will hurt the bench. The point guard is out for four weeks with a torn hamstring suffered in Sunday’s loss to the Blazers.

Farmar has been a pleasant surprise. His absence (as well as that of Nash) leaves Blake as the only healthy point guard on the roster.

So now is a good time for Bryant to make his return. But the Lakers won’t be at their best until they have both Kobe and Farmar healthy.

19 Comments

  1. Patrickmarc says:

    Derrick Rose is playing dangerously,
    he should give the ball instead of trying to do too these acrobatic things.
    I am not surprised of his injuries.

    Nothing to compare with Kobe.

  2. Steven Teo says:

    I have been a Lakers fan for almost two decades. KOBE has been fantastic. You have to admire that guy for all his effort and guts while playing for Lakers. he is not going to get injured again. Remember, Derrick Rose is not KOBE physically. Keep up the good work KOBE.

  3. Joshua Greenfarb says:

    If Derrick Rose can get re-injured, imagine what’s going to happen to Bryant if he tries to

  4. Alex says:

    KOBEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Johnny says:

    Pretty sure I saw Kobe Shut Down Lebron COMPLETELY on many occasions, including the All-Star game! 4th quarter all star game, when players really started playing to win, and kobe shuts down the so called ‘best’ player in the league? smilesssss.

  6. levin23 says:

    Am I the only one who remembers Kobe having to match up against the best players on the opposing teams to try and stifle their play when the team defense wasn’t working? I specifically remember shutting down Kyrie Irving late in a close game. Major disrespect calling Kobe a defensive liability. Also, the Laker bench is only so good because, D’antoni seems to want to balance the play even when starters are out. Farmar and Young not starting is similar to Harden not starting when he was on the Thunder or Ginobli not starting back when he was more of a prolific scorer. Now you have two of those on one team. Also Gasol has complained about the offense not putting him in a position to score in the paint, so it’s not all his fault. He said he ends up just having to settle from outside or try to drive (while an inside post-up would be his best option in my opinion).

  7. karon carter says:

    kobe wasnt good defensive last year? are u stupid he was guarding point guards to small fowards last year and still producing on the offensive end. With that being said dont get me wrong he is not paul george defensivly but he can play defense

  8. dont trip says:

    your all a bunch of rookies.

  9. dont trip says:

    whattttttt

  10. Stern H8r says:

    I’m glad this is the last year we will have to endure endless, mindless blogs and stories about Kobe — Like a daily update on his rehab and return to the Lakers. Time for players of today like LBJ and KDurant to overshadow players of the past like Kobe and DWade. Time for Kobe to start his decline, show MTV his crib and be broke in 10 years.

  11. ImJusSayin says:

    This is proof you have not watched the game and number crunching to write an article is irresponsible. Antoni’s rotations and experimenting have distorted these number and look at who their in against, the other teams second unit so sending a starter down will also improve the Lakers. Go back, watch the games see who is in with who and when (notice how stupid the line ups were in the losses) then come back here and apologize to the people that actually watched the games for your incompetent excuse of an article.

  12. kb888 says:

    Since when was Kobe ever a liability on the defensive end or for that matter anywhere on the court??

    • Mr.Honesty says:

      lets be honest, Kobe simply does not have enough stamina to play on high levels on both ends of the floor anymore. Yes, his stats say he was 25+, 5+, 5+ while shooting at a good percentage, but he just wasn’t defending well last year. The reason being that he had to shoulder too much on offense and shutting people down on the other end at the same time would simply be impossible due to lack of stamina. Of course, saying that he was a liability on defense is probably too much of a stretch, but honestly, he wasn’t the lockdown defender that he was when he was younger.

      • cooper74 says:

        Did you see him last year? I’m sure he can do it again this year. Kobe did pretty damn good on the defensive side last year.

      • ReturnoftheMamba says:

        That’s ridiculous. Kobe Bryant played fantastic defence in the beginning of the new year. You can’t judge one’s defence based on whether or not he locks his opponent down (which he did definitely do) or not, but you have to consider team defence; his communication, help defence, and leadership played a huge part in Lakers defence. In terms of stamina: the guy averaged 38 minutes a game and didn’t look like he was slowing down at any point of the game, so saying he has no stamina is just absurd.

      • Where dafuq were you says:

        nuf said ^

      • levin23 says:

        Am I the only one who remembers Kobe having to match up against the best players on the opposing teams to try and stifle their play when the team defense wasn’t working? I specifically remember shutting down Kyrie Irving late in a close game. Major disrespect calling Kobe a defensive liability. Also, the Laker bench is only so good because, D’antoni seems to want to balance the play even when starters are out. Farmar and Young not starting is similar to Harden not starting when he was on the Thunder or Ginobli not starting back when he was more of a prolific scorer. Now you have two of those on one team. Also Gasol has complained about the offense not putting him in a position to score in the paint, so it’s not all his fault. He said he ends up just having to settle from outside or try to drive (while an inside post-up would be his best option in my opinion).

    • fan says:

      Watch basketball and you will understand. When people blow by him and dunk, that’s him failing. When he just kind of stands around waiting for the opponent to take a shot so he can maybe score on a fast break, that’s him failing.