Thursday, August 09, 2012

Kobe Bryant: Rough Start a Thing of the Past?

Image by Sergio Perez- Reuters, from NBC
Kobe Bryant had a rough start to the 2012 London Olympics. Kobe really couldn't get into an offensive flow. Forced shots, turnovers and frustration fouls were what stood out. It was continuing to go downhill yesterday in the first half against Australia. A travel here, a jump shot missed short there and Twitter was full of criticism. I remember one tweet saying, "GET KOBE OUT OF THERE." The way he was playing, it was hard to not see where that was coming from.

A little part of me knew that not only Kobe Bryant, but Team USA would have a blow-the-game-open stretch. Know this old adage: shooters keep shooting? Kobe Bryant stuck to his guns and started hitting his targets.

Kobe Bryant finished with 20 points, 18 of which came from the six three balls he hit. It was awesome to watch Kobe get really engaged, stealing the ball and heading down on offense to triple right in front of the USA's bench. The crowd chanted his name, Australia was sure it was over and the euphoria continued for at least a few minutes.

Not taking anything away from Kobe Bryant for finally knocking down shots, but Coach K and Team USA need to get Kobe a few different looks. I'd like to see Kobe come off of a backdoor cut for a layup, run Kobe through off the ball screens so he can catch and shot and maybe one or two isolation plays in the post. While Kobe can hit three's, there's no reason to expect six a game from the Black Mamba. That's crazy talk!

What Kobe needs are some easy off the ball inspired looks. Allow Kobe Bryant to work off the ball to get open and then once he's set and open, give him the ball so he can do the rest. Iso-Kobe style plays didn't work against Australia and they won't work often much, if ever. Kobe Bryant will be the best for Team USA if his scores come from ball movement. Take the ball from the top of the key, throw it to the left side, then hit Kobe as he cuts to the basket for a reverse lay in. These are the types of plays that not only make for great basketball, but they put Kobe Bryant in a position to score at a high percentage.

Kobe Bryant knows his start was weak. His frustration was clear even through the TV screen. Now Kobe's seen the ball go through the basket a few times. Let's hope that fuels him to be the amazing Kobe Bryant we know he can be!

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