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Thursday
Sep012011

It’s All About The W’s: Kobe Bryant

The W-L records indicate that Lamar Odom carried the Lakers in the years after Shaq left LA, not Kobe.In this series, I’m taking a look at modern superstars and examining how their clubs’ wins and losses rose and fell over time with the presence and absence of their aces. As much as I love comparing and discussing players’ individual statistics and their advanced impact stats, the only reason I do so is to try to figure out which players affect their teams’ fortunes in the most significant and positive ways. What I’ve decided to do with It’s All About The W’s is stop looking too closely at superstars’ stats and start looking closely at their teams’ records with and without them in the lineups. Michael Jordan won 6 titles in the 90’s, but in the middle two seasons during his first retirement the Bulls never reached 57 wins (their least amount during his 6 title runs) or even the third round of the playoffs; that’s significant. Bill Russell won 11 titles in 13 seasons, yet the Celtics couldn’t make the playoffs the year before or after his career, plus he was injured during one of those two non-title playoffs; that’s significant.

I’ll be using that same logic to examine today’s stars and how their clubs improved (or didn’t) with their presence. The stats are great, but if they don’t correspond with more wins, then what’s their value? Obviously I’ll have to consider the sample size of games missed, injuries to fellow teammates, and the context of the games, so those facts will be noted and considered.

Here are the first four in the series: Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan, Jason Kidd, and Shaquille O'Neal.

Without further ado, here’s It’s All About The W’s: Kobe Bryant.

 

With Shaq (’96-97 to ’03-04)

Kobe entered the league as only the second high schooler in 20 years to make the leap (Kevin Garnett did it the year before). After the Charlotte Hornets made him the 13th overall pick, he was dealt to the Lakers for soon-to-not-be-necessary-due-to-Shaq’s-arrival Vlade Divac. The deal was presumably made because Bryant and his family wanted him to play in a big market; Arn Tellem, his agent in 1996, called playing for the Hornets “an impossibility.” For the next eight years he was paired with Shaquille O’Neal, and the last five of which they played under HOF coach Phil Jackson.

Bryant only started 7 games during his first two years in the league, so any examination of the team’s improvement in that time has almost nothing to do with him, so I won’t do that (although I will note they went 117-47 [.713] during those two years and then dropped to 31-19 [.620] his first year as a full-time starter and major contributor in ’98-99). What has to be done when a team has two big dogs like Shaq and Kobe, however, is look at how the team performed during their eight years together with every combination of missed games between the two. Here are the most straight-forward numbers: the Lakers were 261-101 (.721) when both players played, 32-10 (.762) with Shaq but no Kobe, 23-25 (.479) with Kobe but no Shaq, and 2-6 (.250) when both were hurt.

I know a lot of fans assume those numbers must be swayed in some way by Kobe’s early years with the team and can’t possibly be a true reflection of how he affected the Lakers’ success in that time, so I’ll now provide the numbers for each of their three championship seasons together.

In ’99-00, LA went 0-1 (.000) when both were missing, 1-1 (.500) when Shaq was out but Kobe played, 15-3 (.833) when Kobe was injured or came off the bench (he did so right after returning from his injury) but Shaq played/started, and 51-10 (.836) together.

In ’00-01, LA went 5-3 (.625) when Shaq was out but Kobe played, 11-3 (.786) when Kobe was out but Shaq played, and 40-20 (.667) together.

In ’01-02, LA went 7-8 (.467) when Shaq was out but Kobe played, 2-0 (1.000) when Kobe was out but Shaq played, and 49-16 (.754) together.

Adding everything up for that three year stretch that included three championships, Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson controlling egos and steering the ship, plus a phenomenal supporting cast, the Lakers were 0-1 (.000) with both out, 13-12 (.520) with Shaq out, 28-6 (.823) with Kobe out or getting back into shape as a reserve, and 140-46 (.753) together.

Kobe’s impact on W-L’s: Neither Shaq or Kobe ever missed a playoff game during their eight years together, so all we have to go on is their regular season numbers. Considering Shaq was known for coasting in the regular season and Kobe has gotten the reputation of always having his switch in the “on” position no matter what the stakes, it seems even odder that the Lakers did better without Kobe than they did with him in this time. When you look at their playoff performances together, Shaq rightfully won all three Finals MVP’s during their championships and certainly never had some of the horrendous shooting percentages that Kobe put up during their ’99-00 through '03-04 post-seasons (ex: Bryant shot 41% throughout the '04 playoffs, and 34% in those four Finals losses). There’s not a lot of ways to look at these W-L numbers: Kobe’s impact was slightly negative to the Lakers during his first eight years.

 

The middle three years (’04-05 to ’06-07)

After the growing feud between Shaq and Kobe reached a head in the 2004 Finals that they lost to Detroit, Shaq signed with the Heat in the offseason, Phil Jackson retired after reportedly telling GM Mitch Kupchak “I won’t coach this team next year if [Bryant] is still here. He won't listen to anyone. I've had it with this kid" (and writing an entire book describing how impossible it was working with Kobe), Gary Payton and Karl Malone were gone after so-so seasons and bad playoffs, and crunch-time maestro Derek Fisher got out of town so he wasn’t left with the wreckage. That wreckage was a Lakers squad that sported Kobe Bryant but none of the other key factors to their recent success (Devean George did remain from the three-peat). The team, however, picked up Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, and Chucky Atkins. That means LA’s #2 through #4 players were a 15-10 PF who provided extreme defensive versatility and great passing out of the post, a 16-6 SF who also averaged a team-high 1.4 steals per game, and a 14 ppg PG with a good 4.4 to 1.8 Assist-Turnover rate (2.44 ratio) who shot 39% from deep on 5.5 attempts per game. It wasn’t the same as having Shaq, PJ, and Fisher, but not a bad supporting trio. With Kobe playing that season, they went 28-38 (.424), and without him they went 6-10 (.375). We have to look at the final month of the season to get a clearer picture of how this team operated, however. Going into their March 18 contest with the Pacers, the Lakers were 32-32 and right in the thick of making the playoffs. Odom went down with a left shoulder injury that night and the team finished a disastrous 2-16 the rest of the way, including 2-14 (.125) with Kobe in the lineup. It’s hard to argue that Kobe was more important to the ’04-05 team than Odom considering how bad they got without the one compared to the other.

Phil Jackson returned to the Lakers’ sideline in ’05-06 ($$$), the Pacific Division got much easier as the Suns’ and Kings’ records both took a big tumble that year, and Lamar Odom stuck around (who now lead the team in rebounds and assists). The rest of the lineup certainly looked worse on paper, although the forever-panned Smush Parker provided almost identical shooting percentages to Kobe plus much better A-TO and steal rates, plus all the other big men (Chris Mihm, Brian Cook, and Kwame Brown) shot at or over 50% for the year, with Cook also hitting 43% from deep while the other two both posted Rebound Percentages above 14.0, making the Lakers one of only three teams to have multiple players rebounding at that rate for the year. All that being said, the Lakers went 45-35 (.563) with Kobe and 0-2 (.000) without, but I’ll add that they also lost their only two games without Odom as well.

In ’06-07, Phil Jackson was obviously still there, Lamar Odom remained great in all facets of the game, Luke Walton’s cerebral play did enough to earn him a huge contract, Smush Parker was about the same as the year before (plus he now averaged more steals than Bryant even though he played 10 less minutes per), Kwame Brown was now shooting a phenomenal 59% from the field, and youngster Andrew Bynum played in every game and recorded 10 double-doubles. Again, not the best supporting cast, but we see plenty of teams with much much worse every year. The Lakers went 39-38 (.506) with Kobe in the lineup and 3-2 (.600) without. Again taking a look at Odom’s numbers, the team was 30-26 (.536) with him and 12-14 (.462) without, including losing 5 straight in March during the only 5 games he missed after January.

Kobe’s impact on W-L’s: I went into a little detail with these three rosters simply because the story over time has been that Kobe carried 4 carcasses around the court with him for three years, but it’s just not true; he had more to work with and a better coaching situation than Jason Kidd ever experienced in his prime. Overall, Kobe’s influence on LA’s W-L records wasn't very noticeable (111-111 with him, 9-14 without --- I know fans will want to jump on this as proof of his influence, so I'll point out that 14 of those contests were against teams at or above .500, meaning the expected W-L record for a .500 club against that lineup is 9-14), and he certainly wasn’t able to keep the team afloat when Lamar Odom was injured. In fact, a much stronger case can be made that Odom was the one carrying the franchise during this time based on the Lakers’ W-L records with and without him. The numbers indicate that Kobe’s impact was minimal.

 

With Pau Gasol/Andrew Bynum/Lamar Odom (’07-08 to ’10-11)

Three things happened during the ’07-08 season that helped define a new era of Lakers basketball and which ultimately took a 42-win team and instantly turned them into a 57-25 contender. First, Derek Fisher returned. Second, Andrew Bynum’s career took off. He played 28 minutes per game and even started 25 times through January 13, averaging 13 ppg, 10 rpg, 2.1 blocks, while shooting an unreal 64%. The Lakers, with a legit big-bodied center who brought it at both ends while playing next to Lamar Odom, were 25-11 at that point (1-0 without Bynum). He went down for the season that night, and suddenly LA was playing like they did during that three year stretch of mediocrity, going 5-5 over the next 10 contests. Third, at that point the team completed one of the most laughably one-sided trades in league history, picking up All-Star big man Pau Gasol from Memphis. With two talented big men again manning the paint, the Lakers went on a 15-3 tear, including a season-high 10-game win streak. Gasol hurt his ankle two minutes into his 19th game as a Laker and was gone for ten consecutive games, and again the club went 5-5. He returned in April, and LA finished strong, going 7-1 the rest of the way before making it all the way to the Finals. Although Bryant played all 82 games that year so we can’t see how the team did with and without him, we do see that the team was 46-15 (.754) with either a Gasol-Odom or Bynum-Odom frontcourt, but only 11-10 (.524) without at least two first-rate bigs in the paint, despite Kobe’s best efforts.

Kobe again played the full 82 the next season, but now they had Gasol for 81 games, Bynum for 50, and Odom for 78. They created, without question, the strongest trio of frontcourt players on one team since the Celtics of the 80’s. Similar to the team’s records the year before when they had at least two of them playing at once, LA finished 65-17 (.793).  

In ’09-10, Kobe missed 9 contests, giving us more data for how the Lakers performed without him. Unfortunately we can’t even consider 4 of those missed games, since they were at the very end of the season after LA had already wrapped up homecourt advantage through the Western Conference playoffs, plus Bynum sat those games as well. With no motivation, no Bynum, and limited minutes for several other starters, the Lakers went 2-2 in those games – but again, they give us no information about Kobe’s impact on the club. The other missed games do. He was absent during the Lakers’ toughest 5-game stretch of the year, when they played at Portland (who finished over .600 and hadn’t lost to LA at home in 5 years), San Antonio (who finished over .600), at Utah (who finished over .600 and were on a 9-game win streak), Golden State, and Boston (who finished over .600 and went to the Finals) that February. The results were a 17-point win, 12-point win, 15-point win, 10-point win, and 1-point loss, respectively. They actually played their best ball of the year during their toughest stretch, all without Kobe. Ultimately, when Kobe played that year, they were 51-22 (.699), and without him during games that counted they were 4-1 (.800).

In ’10-11, Kobe was one of six Lakers to play in all 82, including Gasol and Odom. The club went 57-25 (.695), a record that lines up with those over the past three seasons when they had at least two of their big three frontcourt players in the game.

Kobe’s impact on W-L’s: Kobe only missed games in this era in ’09-10, so there isn’t much to go on in terms of calculating his impact to the team’s W-L record. When he missed an extremely difficult 5-game stretch that season, the Lakers responded beautifully with Shannon Brown starting in his place, rattling off a surprisingly easy 4-1 record. The only dips the team took during this four-year period occurred in ’07-’08, and those correlated with the absences of Bynum and Gasol. There is nothing to indicate that the success of the Lakers over the past four years was dependent on Bryant. In fact, it seems pretty clear it depended heavily on the health of their frontcourt. Kobe’s impact was somewhere right around none, with more evidence to suggest it was slightly negative than slightly positive.

 

Overall

Kobe has played in three distinct Laker eras, and the W-L numbers tell us the same thing for each one: he did not make a positive impact on his team. I provided more contextual information than I have for the other players so that skeptics can’t blow these numbers off as out of context. The basic thing you have to notice is that his squads have never done disproportionately poor without him—in fact they’ve often gotten better—yet they’re always right around .500 when they don’t have a dominant frontcourt manned either by Shaq or multiple talented bigs as was the case years later, even with Kobe and everything else being the same. Considering his efficiency stats have been subpar throughout his entire career (particularly shooting and passing/ballhandling), and he’s been well known to attempt difficult shots and steal attempts with little regard for his team’s strengths or systems, this conclusion shouldn’t be as large of a shock as many people might assume.

 

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Reader Comments (67)

There is nothing to indicate that the success of the Lakers over the past four years was dependent on Bryant.

Just road attendance, TV ratings and back to back NBA finals MVP's.

September 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJamesD

Oh boy. Just for clarification, I wasn't talking about financial success. And the Finals MVP's were a sham.

September 1, 2011 | Registered CommenterZachariah Blott

Stats don't lie. I'd love to see detractors put forward a fact/stat based argument to the contrary.

September 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGavriel

Small sample size. 'Nuff said.

September 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDB Sweeny

@DB Sweeny
He's missed 74 games in his career - that's almost an entire season. We also have nearly 4 full seasons of data of him playing without dominant frontcourts to examine that effect as well. How much more of a sample size do you need?

September 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterZachariah Blott

Great stuff, I'm really enjoying this series.

I wasn't expecting Kobe to have the impact of the previous four, but still surprised at how little of an effect he's had, and how in the Shaq years, he wasn't basically irrelevant (which is about what I was expecting), but actually made them a bit worse.

It's been very illuminating. I know you're doing this on modern superstars, but maybe as a series encore you could do a few throwback superstars. I'd be really interested to see how Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell turn out. I'd like to see one on Wilt as I've heard people who saw him play characterize him as a bit of a selfish stat chaser who sacrificed team success to meet personal goals, and I'd like to see an extended one (beyond what you do in the intro) on Russell to see what role he had on all 11 championships he won.

September 1, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterthemofro

@themofro
I'd love to do this for Wilt and Russell, but I only have access to this data (and boxscores) back to '85-86. If you read "The Rivalry," it's clear that the Celtics went on multiple multi-game losing streaks during the times that he missed, plus we already know that he was injured during 1 of the only 2 Finals he didn't win. His effect is huge and well known even without having all the boxscores. Wilt was traded twice in his prime and was worthless at the ends of tight games because a) he wouldn't play defense so that he wouldn't foul out, and b) he didn't want the ball since he was such a bad free throw shooter. He could make his teams better in the regular season, but he just didn't have it in him when it counted.

Glad you're enjoying the series. Next is KG, then either AI, Nash, or Pierce.

September 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterZachariah Blott

@themofro
I did a little research and realized someone has been putting together all the boxscores (very basic in nature) from the Russell years, so I can check game by game (ugh) to figure out what Boston's W-L records were with and without him. Expect it at some point.

http://www.risingabovetherim.com/boxscores

September 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterZachariah Blott

@Zachariah
Thanks for the response. Sounds like Wilt and Russell have the reputation they deserve. I've heard of The Rivalry before, but I've never read it, I'll have to check it out now. I'll keep an eye out for the Russell one and I'm definitely looking forward to the KG analysis, in particular I'm very interested in how it compares to Dirk's. Keep up the good work.

September 2, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterthemofro

I'll combine my responses for the comments from themofro. zach and gabriel from both this article and the Shaq article. Gabriel wants a stats based argument. Here is one:

Shaq with Kobe: 3 rings, 4 finals, 3 finals MVP's and 1 league MVP
Shaq without Kobe: 1 ring, 2 finals
Kobe with SHaq: 3 rings, 4 finals,
Kobe without Shaq: 2 rings, 3 finals, 1 league MVP, 2 finals MVP's.

Of course Shaq got all of his rings and all of his finals playing with at least 1 teammate who was 1st or 2nd team all NBA. Again what is success in the NBA, regular season wins, or NBA titles?

Zach's biography quotes him as being a kobe hater, so its not like I am calling him a hater because of this analysis. He is not using objective analysis he is a kobe hater justifying his hate. So SHaq dominated in the regular season, everyone knew that. But before Kobe matured Shaq turned that regular season dominance into playoff sweeps. But of course Zach "accidentally" left that out of the equation.

Have a good one fellas. WHich player will history consider better?

September 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJamesD

kobe had odom 05-06 he also had chris mihm, brian cook and smush parker to go w/ that so stfu.

September 2, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdrunkenjunk

@JamesD
Considering my bio above doesn't even mention Kobe, I like how you make up my being a Kobe hater in it. I'm using the same objective measures for everyone in this series, so for you to focus on a few good Kobe series even though he was FAR less valuable in the championship post-seasons than Shaq and later Gasol is a bit crazy. Trust me, people who want to justify Kobe's greatness have a far more difficult time doing so. He scored a lot of points, but his shooting percentages were always below average (playoffs and regular season), so we know he was simply a volume scorer. He has the titles, but only on absolutely loaded and overpaid teams with dominant frontcourts (to collect offensive rebounds from his misses) with Phil Jackson keeping him somewhat controlled.

I have one simple question that we all know the answer to that helps illuminate how Kobe affects a team's ability to win. If the Lakers are down 1 with a few seconds left, ball in Kobe's hand, and he has a difficult shot available that most people recognize has about 1/3 chance of going in or a simple pass to a much more open teammate who most people recognize has about 1/2 chance of going in (closer to the basket, open), what does Kobe do? Again, we all know the answer, and that's why he has more highlights but ultimately the numbers show he doesn't help his team win games.

September 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterZachariah Blott

It's absolutely nothing wrong with examining the win lose records of any player. The numbers are what they are cannot dispute that. But to come up with a conclusion that overall Kobe has had a negative impact on the lakers is stupid. You also mention things like Kwame shot a phenomenal 59%. It would be phenomenal if he took over 10 shots a games. But not for someone who takes 5-6 shots a game and all are pretty much dunks and lay-ups. You clearly show a lack of knowledge in allowing these numbers to conclude that Kobe was some how a negative impact when especially in the years after shaq the lakers have over a 60% win percentage when he plays 3 trips to finals and 2 championships. Are you somehow suggesting the lakers would've been better off without Kobe. Or better if Lamar Odom would've been the number 1 option.


For example you mention that the lakers were flat out terrible at the end of the 04-05 season when Lamar got hurt. Absolutely true. But what you also fail to mention is that the lakers just had a coaching change, they played most of their games on the road and were already on a losing streak when lamar got hurt.


In your conclusion you say that the squad haven't done that bad without him, but you fail to mention that over the last 11 years the lakers have made SEVEN nba finals and won 5 of them. That's .71 win %. So with out Kobe's the poor efficiency, ball handling and shooting lakers have been mediocre team but, you forgot to mention that the lakers have been a great team with Kobe's poor shooting, ball handling and efficiency the lakers have been a great team.

So your conclusion is flat out irresponsible.

September 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJB

Another issue. Throughout the entire post, you build your argument on the basis that the lakers have done better when Kobe was hurt compared to when shaq, lamar, bynum, pau were hurt. Then you conclude that Kobe has had a negative impact on the team. That isn't a coherent argument/conclusion especially since the lakers win percentage is far higher when Kobe has played as opposed to when he was hurt. Another thing is that you compare a sample size of about 1000 game to about 70 games.

September 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJB

@JB
My conclusions come from the facts. The fact that the Lakers never get worse when he's hurt compared to when he plays, especially when we see that the other greats I've written this series for have a very different reaction from their team, is quite telling. I'll again refer back to the question of what Kobe would do at the end of a tight game with a teammate in a much better position to make the basket; we all know KB would take it because he's always in hero mode, which is not the same as winner mode. Lucky for him he's played under 1 of the 2 best owners of his era, 1 of the 2 best GM's, the best coach, next to the most dominant big man of the past few decades, later beside the best frontcourt trio in 20 years, with unreal supporting casts on teams that consistently are the most or one of the most highly paid in the league, with great defenders who play the same position and take the hard assignments, and on the winning side of almost every really questionably reffed series/game of the past 11 years. I'm curious what his legacy looks like without all of those advantages - it's called 2006.

September 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterZachariah Blott

Last post proves you're a HaterBoy, and your argument has a lot of obvious problems and omissions. Lot of HaterBoys on the net.

In addition, the self-promotion at ProBasketball Talk was irresponsible and classless. If you do good work, people will find you. If you can't, you have to self-promote.

September 2, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterr1

@r1
Thanks for all your good points, which I'll summarize as "stating facts that Kobe fans don't like to look at = Kobe hater." If people hated my self-promotion so much, I wouldn't get TONS of readers coming to my site each time I post something there. People go to the NBC site because it's NBC, then they go to mine because they want more information. Again, just looking at the facts/data.

Speaking of which, with all the Finals/champs numbers Kobe fans won't stop pushing without considering their context at all, I'm assuming they're all huge Robert Horry and Tom Heinsohn fans and will defend both to the end of time. Kinda curious why that doesn't happen...

September 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterZachariah Blott

Okay but to even say he's always in hero mode is off base as well. Does Kobe want to take every last shot if he can, yes. Does he no. And to say he's hurt the team is off base as well. Look at the 2009 finals, fisher 2 big shots in game 4 if i'm not mistaken, 1 at the end of regulation and the the 3 he made in OT was off of an assist from Kobe. In 2010 the big 3 that ron artest hit in the 4th quarter to put the lakers up for good was on an assist from Kobe. One of the most recognizable plays in Kobe's history was game 7 of 2000 WCF vs. Portland when Kobe crossed pippen over got into the paint and lobbed it to shaq which catapulted the lakers into their 3 peat. And what about all the big shots Horry hit, or shaw or Fisher. It's funny how Kobe is so selfish, so inefficient, yet guys always get to shine beside Kobe and Kobe has been the most successful superstar since Jordan. If you don't like him fine. But to distort reality to make your opinion valid is ridiculous.

As far as Kobe's advantages. Magic had the same owner. Had one of the top 5 coaches of all time. Had two hall of famers one of which is a top 3 center of all time a 6 time MVP and 6x Champion in Kareem and James Worthy who put up outstanding numbers in the 87/88 finals. Not to mention all time great defensive wing players in Micheal Cooper and great scorers like Byron scott and good bench players like Mychal Thompson and Bob MacAdoo.

Bird had guys like Parish, McHale, Dennis Johnson, Tiny Archibald etc.

Jordan had the same great Coach. Two Hall of Famers in Pippen for all 6 championships and Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman for 3. Dennis rodman was one of the greatest rebounders and defensive players of all time. Pippen was one of the best all around guys off all time.

So Kobe gets penalized because he's played with other good players. You say this as if you actually believe the Lakers would've won 5 championships over the past 11 years without Kobe. Lets go back to Kobe's unreal supporting cast. Shaq most dominant player of his era no doubt not taking away anything from him. But Kobe's great big man trio. Lets first remember Bynum was injured and severly limited in both the 2009 and 2010 finals with important but minimal contributions. Gasol and Odom played well but would you take Gasol/Odom or Kareem/Worthy? And unreal supporting cast. What's unreal about Artest, Fisher, Jordan Farmar, Shannon Brown, Trevor Ariza. Those were the other guys that played important minutes in 2009 and 2010. Im not trying to cheapen the contributions those guys made to the lakers because a championship is an ultimate team effort. But you're trying to cheapen Kobe's tremendous contributions by over valuing the lakers supporting cast.

Oh lets not forget about your assertion that the refs helped the lakers win. Okay game 6 of the 2002 WCF was questionable . 2009 finals the Magic shot 19 more ft's over the course of the series. or how about the the suns shot 51 more ft's than the lakers in the 2010 wcf. Well the lakers were plus 50 in 2010 finals and won. all that shows is sometimes they shoot more ft's than their opponent sometimes they don't. To insinuate the league cheats on behalf of the lakers is idiotic as well.

This isn't about me defending Kobe, this is about people who think they know it but omit extremely important facts and disregard reality to further an agenda.

Oh and I love how you try to distort your own Facts by saying the lakers were 28-6 from 99-01when Kobe was out or came in as a reserve getting back into shape. And Kobe didn't start in 4 of those 34 games. And you also forgot that for the first 13 years of Kobe's career he consistently defend the opposing team best guard with few exceptions like AI in 2001 finals. Defense that consistently earned him all NBA honors.

One more point with from 99-2011. I would expect without looking at one stat the laker did better with Shaq/ without Kobe than with Kobe/ with out shaq because the lakers didn't have a back up a back up center while the lakers had multiple guards/small forwards that could collectively make up for Kobe's absence. But the lakers entire offense revolved around shaq and guys like Shaw, Fox, Horry, Rice production depended on shaq's presence not Kobe's. That is not to say Kobe wasn't a huge contributor to those teams.

Do you actually watch basketball?

September 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJB

And reading Tim Duncan's article, you said he had no top-end talent yet you praise Kwame Brown, Brian Cook, Smush Parker and Chucky Atkins? Really. You say Brian Cook shot 43% from 3 one year but Steve Kerr was a 45% career 3 point shooter. Guys like avery johnson, sean elliot, and david robinson were scrubs. Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Bruce Bowen were scrubs. Bruce Bowen led the league in 3 point field goal % one year by the way and Parker was actually a finals MVP. Another thing Odom is not know for extreme defensive versatility. He's a really good player but you're making him sound like dennis rodman.

September 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJB

@JB
Wow, you're really distorting things more than most Kobe fans (why do Kobe fans never notice that "Kobe haters" dislike the super biased fans, not Kobe?). You try to link my saying Kobe had OK supporting talent with Duncan's lack of top-end talent as if I said Kobe's sidekicks in those middle years were top-end. You list some playoffs that the Lakers were out-shot from the FT line but disregard that I was clearly talking about series/games that were full of suspicious calls, not just whenever. You try to tell me how I should feel about Magic, Larry, and MJ when I never mentioned them. You bring up players on the Lakers who hit big shots but don't actually consider a) how these plays developed (plays were often run for Fisher from out of bounds so that Kobe never had to touch the ball), b) where the assists were coming from, or c) the total numbers for all of these situations. I say this last part because the narrative with Kobe has been that he's great in the clutch, but once the numbers started being compiled and were made public over the past year in a few noteworthy articles, Kobe just looked like a volume scorer with poor %'s in the clutch; Kobe fans tend to remember a few key plays and then never want to believe the stats that remember all of the plays for a certain situation. You mention Kobe's assist to Shaq against Portland - Shaq was wide open under the basket (cherry pick) so Kobe had NO choice but to throw it ahead - it's not like he had to make a play you or I couldn't for that basket to happen. In fact, go back and watch that 4th quarter again sometime; Kobe had a terrible 4th quarter and did nothing to win that game - it was all Shaq and the refs (even the announcers make that clear).

Long story short, you're trying to focus on a few little pieces while disregarding everything we have to evaluate his entire career with and the really clear themes that occur when we do so. If someone only listened to Kobe fans like you, I'd think his FG and eFG %'s over time were really good and that he had good A-TO rates. But thankfully these numbers exist, and we can see that they're both below average. Same with shooting in the clutch. Same with the team winning more games with him than without him. Watching Kobe fans completely disregard that last one when we can see how the other superstars' teams get worse in a way we'd logically suspect is just odd. It's wins and losses, what basketball is about. He can't seem to affect them in a positive way, but Kobe fans want to start pointing out this one game and this one time he did such and such. It's called the big picture, and it's not defined by a few instances you can pluck from his best moments. I'd really appreciate it if you could find objective ways of viewing this big picture that make him look good, and didn't just assume a 15-year career is defined by a handful of good games you saw the highlights of over and over - then we'd have a real discussion.

September 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterZachariah Blott

Nah. Go back and read your last comment with a critical eye; it is clearly slanted, as is the piece itself. Your biggest problems are:
slanting the facts to fit the narrative based on your emotional needs
bias by omission
lack of in-depth research
misunderstanding of sample size
an inability to deal with the usage/efficiency conundrum
I could pick about 20 examples, but one of the funniest is your amusing description of the 2007 team:
________
Lamar Odom remained great in all facets of the game, Luke Walton’s cerebral play did enough to earn him a huge contract, Smush Parker was about the same as the year before (plus he now averaged more steals than Bryant even though he played 10 less minutes per), Kwame Brown was now shooting a phenomenal 59% from the field, and youngster Andrew Bynum played in every game and recorded 10 double-doubles. Again, not the best supporting cast, but we see plenty of teams with much much worse every year. The Lakers went 39-38 (.506) with Kobe in the lineup and 3-2 (.600) without. Again taking a look at Odom’s numbers, the team was 30-26 (.536) with him and 12-14 (.462) without, including losing 5 straight in March during the only 5 games he missed after January.
__________
Odom is a very good player, among the best 30-40 in the game, but he is not a franchise anchor--never has been. He lacks a central skill but is pretty good at everything--hence his success as a third option. Given who was backing him up on that team, it is not surprising that the team suffered without him. Actual Laker fans saw Walton's contract as a mistake at the time, and now, of course, it is the biggest joke in the NBA.
Kwame Brown did indeed have his best year that year, posting a TS% of .573. Here are his TS numbers before and after the time he played with Bryant:
.450
.496
.547
.497
.503 with LA in 2008
.482 with MEM in 2008
.546
.470
.550
Seems clear Bryant's selfishness was holding him back. Brown also had his two highest USGs playing with Bryant.
WRT Parker, you cherry-pick a stat you like, steals, and ignore this:
PER/GAMES PLAYED, SMUSH PARKER
06 13.4/82
07 11.6/82
08 7.0/28
09 OUT OF NBA
Clearly, a superstar waiting to happen, undermined by Kobe Bryant.
You left out Brian Cook:
PER, BRIAN COOK:
06 15.6
07 14.1
08 (WITH ORL) 9.5
09 7.6
10 2.4
11 11.6
Like I said, I could go on, easily. It would take too long, though. There are issues with your 2005 stuff, and your 2010 stuff, as well as your Chamberlain/Russell stuff.
Bryant's value to a team is the diversity of his offense and his ability to create shots. The downside is that he shoots too much sometimes.
I am a Laker fan, and I know that Kobe is not as good as James, and not nearly as good as Jordan. Shaq was clearly the best player on the 2000-2002 3peat teams. But you, like Henry Abbott, are clearly a man with an agenda.
This is a discussion worth having, but your cheap shots, etc. about the refs, Kobe’s character and the fact you reached a conclusion so quickly shows you are not really interested in having it. You made up your mind a long time ago.
As to the NBC thing, it is frowned upon to self-link--you should know that if you don't. Your post doing so got 31 dislikes and 5 likes, so you may be getting hits out of it (this will be the last one you get from me) but it is bad form.

September 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternnn

@nnn
Glad you cleared all that up, but that still leaves the really obvious question of why Kobe's teams never got worse without him when that was the case with all the other stars, as any logical person would expect. Looking at wins and losses is kinda what this whole column was about until Kobe fans went off about all of his great attributes that supposedly help teams win, even though the actual wins and losses don't reflect that. I'm wondering if you have an explanation for that. Without one, your numbers and your explanation of them all look bogus.

September 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterZachariah Blott

Like I said, it is pretty clear that you are as emotional about Kobe as any Lakers fan, and you should really put that aside to look at ALL the facts, not just the ones you like. You have shown no signs of being able to do that or even being able to admit that you have a personal issue with Bryant. Same problem Henry Abbott has, and it infects your writing. That is why you defensively say FACTS! all the time. Abbott does the same thing, and it doesn't work any better for him.

Three points to start:

1. So, IOW, you admit have no legit answer for my points. That's a start. One reason for that exercise was to show that the way you framed it, Kobe actually had pretty good players on that team, but, presumably, through his low-efficiency play, was holding the team back or not helping it. Given how these guys have performed without him long-term, that does not seem to be the case. The fact that they went 3-2 without him in 2007 is interesting, but in evaluating his value as a player, that is a very small sample relative to the team's overall performance during the two years that he played with Walton/Odom/Parker/Brown. Like I said, your assumption, "Welp, 74 games, that's enough" doesn't hold up very well against, as someone else noted, 1000+ games.

2. As far as whether I have an "explanation for that", the answer is, as you would know if you were actually objective, is that this is a complex issue. To you it isn't, because all you appear to care about is bashing Kobe and Laker fans. To someone interested in learning something, it is.

3. What is the end-game here? Is your assertion is that Kobe Bryant is actually more or less a replacement-level player and has not helped the Lakers at all? If so, make the assertion. If you don't know, but think this little study indicates that, make the admission. If you are just trying to get page hits for your site, own that. Being passive-aggressive is another problem you share with Abbott.

Looking at the eras one at a time:

2000-2002

The fact that prime Shaq was much better able to carry a team of role players than young Kobe was is neither surprising nor interesting. Their images have changed over the years. Kobe's work ethic and the fact that he played his entire career with the Lakers has made him a revered figure; Shaq's indifference towards conditioning, his goofiness, and his bouncing around from team to team has made people forgert how good he really was at his peak.

2003-4

One of your biggest problems is your foolish assertions about the quality of the Lakers' supporting cast, as I already demonstrated--and you failed to address at all--in the previous post. The 2000-2003 teams were essentially composed of Shaq, Kobe and a group of one or two-dimensional veteran role players. Kupchak stuck with them way too long, as John Hollinger and others noted at the time. The other thing that happened was that the team defense cratered in in 2003 because

a) Shaq missed time after putting off his surgery
b) Shaq gained about 50 pounds

Tex Winter has made this very clear, and the numbers do as well:

DRTG, LAKERS

2002 7TH
2003 19TH
2004 WITH MALONE AND PAYTON 8TH

These issues were mostly on Shaq and Kupchak, and the 2003 team went 3-9 out of the gate without Shaq. Without Kobe, I think they would have been about 1-11. You can assert, if you like, they would have been 3-9 or 4-8, or 5-7, but you have no idea. Like I said, you don't really get sample size.

The 2004 team lost the Finals because:

Detroit was better.
Malone was hurt.
Billups killed Payton.
Kobe shot badly.

Like most HaterBoys, you ignore everything OTHER than Kobe when it suits you.

2005-7

2007 we covered, and you lost badly. 2006 is a non-starter. You make a big deal about 2005, but again you leave a lot of stuff out to suit your narrative. The real turning point was not when Odom went down; it was when Rudy Tomjanovich quit. The team was 24-19, and RT quit for health reasons, and probably also because Phil had decided to come back. The team started having trouble immediately, losing 8 of 13 and had lost three straight when Odom went down.

At that point, all the Lakers, including Kobe, more or less quit. The Lakers finished 30th in DRTG that year and as Hollinger detailed at the time, the team D was historically bad over that stretch. Kobd missed a couple of games and phoned in others. If Odom had played, maybe they go 4-14. If Kobe had played harder, maybe they go 5-13. Again, you don't know.

THE CURRENT TEAM

Another example that shows you are a biased HaterBoy: your characterization of the Gasol deal. As we have seen, Marc Gasol is actually better than Al Jefferson, so that trade is actually less one-sided than the Garnett deal to Boston was. Even BILL SIMMONS has admitted that he overstated his case on that and misread it. Snarky, arrogant, and more biased than Bill Simmons is no way to go through life, son.

As to the data: again, unsurprising. The Lakers are a lot better when they have great big men playing. Really? What a shock. But behind the big four, this is a just an OK team if that. You used that 11-10 stretch as a big scoring point, but how closely did you look at the box scores? I haven't, but I will if I have time. The Lakers might well have gone 7-14 with another guard in the lineup those games. Again: you don't know.

The 4-1 stretch in 2010, while small, makes your case better. A couple of the teams they played were short-handed, but the ball movement was good in those games. Bynum and Bryant are the main ball-stoppers on the team, and Bynum, as you neglect to mention of course, missed two of those games as well.

But the Lakers' big improvement in those games was actually on D. The Lakers held every opponent during that stretch to ORTGs below 100.

Their ORTGs, OTOH, declined steadily during the stretch, hitting 99.6 and 96.1 in the last two games, both well below the team's season average.

So we learn what? Kobe made All-D again last year, but it was a rep vote. His lateral movement has slowed, and he takes plays off. Shannon Brown, who replaced him in those games, has poor court vision but is young and tried hard. But since you never mentioned D at all except the silliness about Smush Parker's steals rate, your takeaway is this: the ORTG went down steadily without Bryant's ability to create shots.

CONCLUSIONS

I have been a Laker fan my whole life. Magic is my fave player. Kobe Bryant, no matter what MSM guys and some Lakers fans claim, is not in the conversation for best player of all time. He is somewhere in the top 30 or so. This data, flawed though it is and presented by an arrogant, passive-aggessive, self-promoter with an axe to grind as it is, ( I suspect you are a Boston fan--your characterization of John Taylor's book is way off--manty people do believe what you do about Russell and Chamberlain, but Taylor didn't go that way at all. And don;t take my word for it--Simmons didn't like Taylor's book ) is probably another indicator of that.

But like all data, it needs to looked at in detailed context without key facts omitted. You failed to do so.

September 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternnn

That should say "going 8 and 13" not "losing 8 of 13."

September 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternnn

@nnn
I don't need to address your situation-specific points because this column is about how a player's presence affects wins and losses. That being the case, you should be addressing my 2 most basic questions.

1) With all of your statistical support for Kobe, why doesn't he seem to affect his team's W-L record in any era of his career (which goes against your logic and what's been found for all the other stars)?

2) If the Lakers are down 1 with a few seconds left, ball in Kobe's hand, and he has a difficult shot available that most people recognize has about 1/3 chance of going in or a simple pass to a much more open teammate who most people recognize has about 1/2 chance of going in (closer to the basket, open), what does Kobe do? We all know the smart thing to do that best helps the team is to pass it.

September 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterZachariah Blott

I addressed #1 in a number of ways.

#2 just shows your bias again and that you are parrotting Henry Abbott.

If that is all you got, there is no point in continuing.

And when are you going to step up, stop repeating your lame talking points, and say what the end game is? I will repeat:

Are you asserting that Kobe Bryant is more or less a replacement-level player who does not help his team, and that this data demonstrates that? Or, are you asserting that this data merely indicates that but does show he is what? Average? Below-average? Pretty good, but not as good as say, Ray Allen, or peak Tracy McGrady? Really good, but not as good Michael Jordan and Shaquille O'Neal? Which is it? Or are you saying you don't actually know? Time to quit hiding behind the BS "logic" stuff and put it on the table.

Abbott at least is clear about this: he thinks Kobe is a great player who shoots too much at the end of games and hurts the Lakers in so doing. You haven't even been able to be that clear.

September 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternnn

@nnn
Here's as clear as it's going to get:
Kobe is a physically skilled player whose mentality (always wanting to be the hero and prove it by scoring as many points as MJ did or by making difficult shots outside of his team's system) takes away from his ability to help a team win. As far as helping a team win, he is average - that is my official conclusion AFTER looking at all the facts. Assuming you know what the Four Factors are (the four areas of a game that statistically correlate with winning and losing and everyone now accepts as where to look for how a team wins), it makes sense that he would not be above average in helping a team win, let alone great. The only one of the factors that he can be considered good at is FT/FGA, and that factor is a distant fourth in the group, having been shown to have around 1% of an impact on a team's success. The most important of the factors is eFG%, and that's an area in which he is clearly below average to average at best (never topping 50% for a season in a league where the league average is normally right at 50%). Efficiency-wise, he just doesn't have it (due to regularly playing in hero mode and not picking his spots), and that's why the W-L records show his having no affect on a team while the other stars all show significant impact for their clubs.

And I like how you refuse to answer question #2 because you know that one answer is a ball hog trying to be a hero and the other is a player trying to give his team the best chance of winning - but I'm biased for bringing up this sort of situation that clearly points out the difference between two types of players and might help explain why Bryant's W-L numbers aren't good.

September 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterZachariah Blott

Well, you finally manned up and answered. Kobe Bryant is an average player. OK. You should have just said that in the post.

Like I said, you don't get the usage/efficiency issue, so your view of Bryant is basically a combination of Dave Berri's and Henry Abbott's. Kevin Pelton and Dean Oliver, among others, have done some work on that issue. You should read up on it. But at least you finally provided some substance.

As to the dreaded "question #2" that has been chewed up and spat out by CA Clark, the Kamenetzkys, Kurt Helin and 20 other guys.

The short answer is that the fact you are bringing it up and hammering on it shows that you have emotional issues with Bryant, and lack the integrity and maturity to admit that, since making a big deal of it goes against your stated "big picture" focus. Game-enders are one stat of many, and like Abbott, you hit on that because what this is really about for you is showing that Kobe Bryant is a bad guy who hurts his team with his bad guyness. As this quote shows:

___________________

Kobe is a physically skilled player whose mentality (always wanting to be the hero and prove it by scoring as many points as MJ did or by making difficult shots outside of his team's system) takes away from his ability to help a team win.

_____________________

Does he shoot too much sometimes? Sure. Every Lakers fan over the age of 8 knows this. Is he as good as Jordan? No. Every objective fan knows this.

But the big picture isn't the 74 games he's missed, or what his numbers are on game-ending shots. The big picture is how the Lakers have done overall during his time in LA, and if one looks objectively at the big picture--the team's talent and performance, it is clear that they have achieved as much or more as the overall talent on the roster would suggest. Your argument, apparently, is that the overall results, including the playoffs, would be about the same if Bryant had been replaced by a series of middle-of-the-pack, low-usage guards, based on some small samples of games, stacked up over his fifteen-year career. I pointed out, in detail, how this conclusion is questionable at best and the issue is far more complex than you make it out to be. And what I said was only a small piece of that puzzle; like David Berri, you simply don't get that basketball is a fluid game of interacting parts.

The reasons you brushed off all the the details are simple: one, you have an agenda and have already made up your mind, and two, your knowledge base about the Lakers is about as thin as your readership. I note that you bragged about the TONS of readers that you get from plugging your wares at NBC.com. Not sure what TONS are--as you have shown, specifics are not your strong suit--but whoever and however many they are, they do not appear to be leaving comments. 28 appears to be all-time high for you, based on other threads I have scanned. And I suspect it will stay that way.

September 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternnn

@nnn
I see you want to push aside all the data that shows the Lakers are fine without him and all of his poor efficiency stats that would indicate the Lakers would be fine without him (that correlation alone should tell you that you're missing something) and try to figure out how every argument is off for some reason. Here's the crazy thing, though: every other top player whose team success seems to follow their ups and downs has also shown the efficiency in their play to go with it. There's a clear correlation, which again has been calculated and is widely accepted as the Four Factors. Kobe does not do much to affect those Four Factors in a positive way and then the W-L numbers confirm that his presence doesn't make the team win more. But then we look at other stars and they do things with an efficiency (not just volume) to help their teams with the Four Factors and then we see their presence also correlates to their teams winning more.

So if I'm to believe what you're saying, I'd think that every other stars' skills and their team success just randomly aligned even though basic logic would lead you to say "good player = good at skills that help team win = makes team improve when they play and display said skill." It all lines up for everyone else, but not Kobe. Something is just totally different with him to the degree that every way of evaluating other players in an objective manner that works simply doesn't with him, but he's still doing as much as they are to help his team win. To believe that would be absolute lunacy.

September 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterZachariah Blott

We're talking past each other and have been for awhile. I have made it clear that I find your argument reductionist and have made it clear why. I looked up some box scores from some of the games you used and could detail further why I think so, but you clearly have zero interest in anyone's viewpoint other than your own and have failed to address any contextual points, the reason being you can't. I have brought up the Usage/Efficiency three times and cited specific authors talking about it. Dean Oliver, in Basketball on Paper, analyzed it uisng the 2002 Lakers. You have ducked it. So, like a politician, you return to the same talking points.

Reductionism comes from bias and arrogance. Four Factors is one piece of data, and it matters. But there is more to basketball than that.

Keep one thing in mind, though. This isn't about Laker fans, or Kobe fans: I agree with my compadre cluckycrabbyabby across the board, for the most part, except for one thing. The Blottster is not using advanced stats per se. He is using one stat--Four Factors, and then a sample of 74 games over a 15-year career. Basically, all the metrics except Berri's, which have been widely discredited, including:

WARP
INDIVIDUAL W-L RECORD
PER
WS/48
SIMPLE RATING
ROLAND RATING

Say the same thing about Kobe Bryant: he is not as good as the very best in the game's history, but he is nonetheless a hell of a player. You are in effect saying that all those guys and their numbers are wrong and you are right. There is virtually no chance that is true, unless you are the greatest analyst in the history of the game.

What you have done, more or less, is an inverse variation a "count the rings" argument.

September 5, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternnn

Trying to analyze the greatness of any team or individual is always going to be concluded with an arbitrary thesis statement since statistics and numbers can be twisted and bent to any direction that the person supplying the numbers wants them to be. Instead of trying to come up with statistics to prove why the Lakers weren't, aren't, and never will be (seemingly) better with Kobe than without him (in terms of wins of losses of course), why don't you just look very plain and simply at it. Were Lakers really ever a better team without Kobe? Could they have truly won even 1 of the championships without him and with a bench player taking his place during those playoff runs? Why is it even necessary to question why the Lakers have had some success in terms of wins and losses in the regular season without Kobe while other teams struggle without their stars? (The answer, by the way, is that the triangle was a team offense that depended on the cohesiveness of all 5 players and relied less on individual performances. So in short stints, it, separate from most other offenses, allowed the Lakers to plug in players such as Ron Harper, Brian Shaw, Sasha Vujacic, and Laron Profit, and still have success much like it allowed the Bulls to nearly win the title with a team in '93-'94 led by Scottie Pippen the year following MJ's retirement, that had no business talent wise winning 55 games and challenging the Knicks for the East title). Why even ask the question though? In my humble opinion, if you can't see with your own eyes that Kobe Bryant is the undisputed best player on the Lakers, their team leader and the main reason they have been the team of the last decade, than that's just, very simply stated........ hilarious!!!

September 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterwvan10

@Zach

You know the bio I'm referring to. In one of my 1st posts on this site you actually compliment me for doing my homewrok about you. Now suddenly you don't "hate everything Kobe Bryant". So am I lying? No.

Kobe probably takes the shot. ALl "2" or scoring guards take that shot. Kobe has passed aoff as many times as he has shot iint hat situation else this teams wouldn't win any championships. There is no quiestion Kobe is sellfish but that doesn't make hima detriment to the team.

When you wrote the Shaq piece it was clear what you were implying.Like most of your articles you switch from advanced stas, to basic, to theory to whatever you wish to fit your narrative. Your reputation is that of a writer who can't objectively assess Kobe Bryant because you do not like him.

Bottom line is all the players you cite as helping Kobe won no championships before he matured. They are exactly what you list in this piece, regular season winners. NOTHING WHEN IT COUNTED. As for value look at the 2001 team stats in the playoffs, probably the Lakers best with Shaq and Kobe:

Shaq: 30.4 pts, 15.4 rebs, 3.2 asts. 54 fg%
Kobe: 29.4 pts, 7(approx) rebs, 6,(approx) asts. 47 fg%

If thats far less valuable I'll take it. No matter how you spin it, no matter what stats are used you can't change the fact that Shaq could only win with another 1st team all nba player on his team and ccouldn't win until he played with Kobe. So if you wanna give him all the credit go ahead, Truth don't change.

September 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJamesD

I see you altered your bio on Empty the Bench. Wow! Very disappointing.

September 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJamesD

@JamesD

When is the last time Zachariah posted on Empty the Bench? What does it have to do with how Lakers did w/ and w/o Kobe?

@Everyone else

Still waiting for stats that show Lakers go better when Kobe played vs. when Kobe didn't. The stats don't lie. Your knee-jerk responses and red herrings doesn't address this post at all. Face the facts the success of the Lakers had more to do with:

1. Giant budget.
2. Big men
3. Phil Jackson

This doesn't make Kobe a bad player, just his role being overblown as the media tried to find the next MJ.

September 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGavriel

@Gabriel

The bio reference is important. It used to list him as someone that hates everything Kobe Bryant. I think that is relevant when analyzing and drawing conclusions about Kobe and those who played with. Don't you? It suggests he uses the information that fits his argument rather than a broad based objedctive analysis using all data.

As to your post, Shaq, Pau, Bynum have the same budget and phil jackson. If big men were the reason Kobe won, how come those big man, not counting Bynum, didn't win without a mature Kobe? See Gabe the stats don't tell eveything, particularly regular season win percentage. All that tells you is during the regular season Shaq was responsible for more wins.

We as NBA fans know where Shaq was BKM and AKM. BKM he was the regular season master who got swept in the playoffs. AKM he was the regular season master who won an MVP (alomost unanimous) and 3 NBA titles. We know Pau can't handle being the pressure and never played past the 1st round of the playoffs and Bynum is too green right now.

Gabriel you initially sad you wnated a stats based argument. Do these stats count in evaluating Kobe and his impact on winning: (Note this controls for budget and phiil jackson as coach)

Shaq with Kobe: 3 rings, 4 finals, 3 finals MVP's and 1 league MVP
Shaq without Kobe: 1 ring, 2 finals
Kobe with Shaq: 3 rings, 4 finals,
Kobe without Shaq: 2 rings, 3 finals, 1 league MVP, 2 finals MVP's.
Pau without Kobe: 1st round playoff loss
Pau with Kobe: 3 NBA finals, 2 rings
Lamar without Kobe: don't know
Lamar with Kobe: 3 NBA finals, 2 rings, 6th man of year

September 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJamesD

The numbers arguments can be made/skewed for any argument. There is a reason he has continuously been the most feared player in the league for the better part of his career. His peers can tell you all you need to know about Kobe, no blog is needed. I guess let the stats arguments continue.

September 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterwvan10

Blott’s case is based, as he has said several times, largely on Dean Oliver’s Four Factors. As per BaskRef:

Four Factors
1. Shooting (40%) EFG%
2. Turnovers (25%) TOV %
3. Rebounding (20%) ORB AND DRB%
4. Free Throws (15%) FT/FGA AND FT%
KOBE BRYANT, CAREER
EFG: .481
TOV: 11.2
ORB: 3.1 DRB 12.0
FTA/G 7.6 FT% .837

JASON KIDD, CAREER
EFG: .462
TOV 18.8
ORB: 4.1 DEB 16.1
FTA/G 3.1 FT% .784

September 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternnn

@JamesD
I don't know the Empty the Bench guys nor did I ever have any editorial control there, so I can guarantee you my ETB bio never changed. What you're remembering, and I explained to you before, was their piece telling ETB readers that I was leaving the site to start my own blog. Within it they made a joke about my distaste for Kobe which was part of a running gag based on Kobe fans jumping on an MVP article I wrote a long time ago saying LeBron deserved it moreso than Kobe. I explained this to you over a year ago, but you conveniently forgot so that you can bring it up again in this comments thread.

@wvan10
Numbers can be skewed, no doubt, but I'm writing a series of articles that focuses solely on W-L records for stars. These numbers follow a logical pattern for every other star, but not for Kobe, and here's where Kobe fans come out in full force. A pattern that makes perfect sense exists for everyone else, but it must be bogus because it doesn't work for one of their favorite players. So why wouldn't it work for Kobe? Well his shooting numbers (FG, eFG) are almost always below his team and the league average, his A-TO rate is below average for his position and his team even though his teammates collectively shoot better than he does (should be easier for him to get assists than them), and he's a below-average offensive rebounder for his position. There's the three most important of the Four Factors. Again, very basic logic says that someone with those qualities will not help his team. The crazy part is that Kobe fans have actually asked for this type of W-L analysis from me when I've noted some of his poor efficiency numbers in the past. Then you bring up the "players fear him" and "just watch him" arguments, which would also apply to all the other great players, yet this straight-forward analysis of mine you say doesn't work (W-L records, Four Factors) applies in a logical format to all those other feared, gotta-watch-him players. Kobe's the lone outlier, so you and other Kobe fans seem to think something's wrong with the whole system, not your view of that one player. Yeah, that makes sense.

September 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterZachariah Blott

@nnn
You obviously don't understand how the individual numbers that go into Four Factors work (especially Turnover Rates for individuals which always favor players who shoot a lot over PG's), so please don't try to run your own analysis without some adult supervision. That's literally the sloppiest attempted use at it I've ever seen and can't believe you were even able to find their career stats.

September 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterZachariah Blott

Zachariah, you're saying numbers can be skewed, but then you're basing your entire argument on won-loss records soley on them. Each player's or team's situations are different. Not all patterns found in numbers mean something other than they do follow a pattern sometimes. You do see though how other numbers can be given to refute the same argument you are giving, don't you? A very logical symptom or cause of the pattern you are suggesting though, does in my opinion have to do with the Lakers offensive system during the Phil Jackson era. In a sample size small enough to envelope less games than an NBA regular season, a team well versed in the triangle can plug holes left by injuries to its stars with ball movement and cohesiveness on offense so that there is not much drop off. This pattern would only occur in short stints, it would not be the case in playoff scenarios where the "chess game" so to speak is much more detailed and dialed in for the most part. Point of fact, the Bulls won 55 games in '93-'94 in the first year after MJ's retirement with a Scottie Pippen/Horace Grant led team (only 2 wins less in the regular season than the MJ led championship team the season before). Are you to have us believe that MJ did not affect the Bulls in terms of Wins/Losses since his absence from that's year's squad left minimal decline in the regular season??? Phil Jackson's system kept that team hanging in there that entire season and in small stints the triangle can do this because it is based on ball movement and spacing and not as highly dependent on individual performance. The numbers do not tell the entire story, not really half the story really, when you take an objective look at it.

September 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterwvan10

@wvan
About those Bulls teams - you do realize the 90's Bulls without MJ never reached the least amount of season wins when they did have him, right? And that's including how weak the league was getting by the time of his first retirement. So don't make it sound like Jordan left and the team stayed just as good as all the times Kobe has been hurt - not the case. Here's what I'd love to see: an objective system of determining player greatness that is able to be applied to the greats that a) makes Kobe look great, and b) doesn't make Tommy Heinsohn look like an all-time top-10. Seriously, I bet it can't be done without including a ton of situation-specific clauses and variables that come right out of KB's career.

September 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterZachariah Blott

Zachariah,
Yes I realize those Bulls teams didn't win as many games without Michael as they did with him. I just told you they lost 2 more games without him the very next year after he retired. That's exactly what I'm saying, they weren't as good without him as they were with him of course. The fact that their won-loss record was only plus 2 games different doesn't mean to me (nor should it mean to anyone) that he only made a +2 win difference the previous year. Just like it makes no difference however many games the Lakers won/win without Kobe, because it's not those games that determines his value. It's the games he has played and the differences he has made on the court. As for your request to see a objective "system" to determine the greatness of players, I would just say that my two eyes and my brain don't lie. I'll take the offerings of the coaches, GMs, and NBA players as a good enough system for me. -- Phil Jackson "Any team with Kobe Bryant on it can win a championship". He's won 11, he should know.

September 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterwvan10

You obviously don't understand how the individual numbers that go into Four Factors work (especially Turnover Rates for individuals which always favor players who shoot a lot over PG's), so please don't try to run your own analysis without some adult supervision. That's literally the sloppiest attempted use at it I've ever seen and can't believe you were even able to find their career stats.

___

Getting a little testy, aren't we, there Zach? Calm down, big guy. This is the 45th comment on this thread, which I am pretty sure is a record for you. You wanted a few readers bad enough that you linked to your own blog on a national website; well, you got them. You should be happy.

First of all, there was no attempt at "analysis." All I did was put up the numbers. The readers can decide what, if anything, they mean. Unlike you, I don't like to rely on a single number or metric. I like to look at as much information as possible from as many sources as possible.

Second, it goes without saying that a PG handling the ball all the time will probably have a higher TOV than a 2 guard, even one with a very high usage rate. I didn't bother to mention it because I assume most people here are smart enough to know that without my help.

As to the other numbers, quoting you now:

There's a clear correlation, which again has been calculated and is widely accepted as the Four Factors. Kobe does not do much to affect those Four Factors in a positive way.

_________

Perhaps not, but he appears to be doing about as much in terms of FF metrics as Jason Kidd, taking the numbers overall. Perhaps you are arguing that FF numbers should be evaluated differently based on position and team role, which is a reasonable position, if you can back it up, but of course it would open up other issues. For example, you have, in previous posts, focused a lot on Kobe's A/TO ratio. But that is not, actually, one of the Four Factors. But if you want to make a positional adjustment, you should have specified that earlier. You didn't. You also failed to actually mention the Four Factors in either the Kobe or Kidd posts; if they are a big part of why you think this simple W/L in/out of the lineup method works so well in terms of player evaluation, you might want to let the readers know. Just a helpful suggestion.

____________

As to the meta-issue of whether Blott is a Hater, it is clear that he is and is not going to admit it, so there is not much point in talking about it. If he actually changed his bio on another site, that is, like his linking to his own blog and then bragging about his readership, kind of an amusing insight into the kind of guy he is in terms of his on-line persona.

September 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternnn

For anyone interested, here is an old (2004) article by Dean Oliver on the Four Factors, their relative significance, and a box on how they are calculated:

http://www.rawbw.com/~deano/articles/20040601_roboscout.htm#box1

For those who may not know, Oliver is the author of Basketball on Paper, a great book, and used to work for the Denver Nuggets and (I think) Seattle. He is now writing some stuff for ESPN as well as manty other things.

September 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternnn

@wvan
Once you make your eyes your determiner, there's no more argument. We all carry biases and selective forgetfulness into eye witness accounts, plus we tend to remember what we see the most, and those are players' highlights. Phil Jackson also wrote an entire book explaining why coaching Kobe was impossible and he was ripping the team apart. The result? The team was ripped apart. There are only about a thousand studies on the fallibility of eye witness accounts, so you basically just told me you're not objective or able to accurately rate any player. Ergo, this discussion between you and I is now officially done.

@nnn
So now you're saying that you posted numbers you knew misrepresented what it sounds like they do (Turnover Rate) to support your argument? Well that's nice of you to intentionally blur things. And again for you and anyone who can't read properly, I never ran another site, so it's impossible for me to be changing my bio on other sites. Kobe doesn't do nearly what Kidd does for FF metrics. We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Kidd is one of the best of this generation at setting up teammates so that they end up taking the best shots possible - that raises the team eFG% much more so than Kobe taking way more shots at an eFG% that is always worse than his teammates - that hurts his team's eFG%. Kidd is a vastly superior offensive rebounder (FF uses OReb, not overall rebounding, so again please stop intentionally clouding the issue), and it's very clear that Kidd is much better at making the right decisions with the ball so that it isn't turned over (they average almost identical to/gm for their career even though one is a PG who doesn't shoot much and is always passing and the other shoots more than anyone else in his generation; lots of shots is supposed to mean less turnovers, but not in this case). This is really quite simple, so please don't go out of your way to use FF in ways that make no sense and for which it was never intended. I can't believe you actually read "Basketball on Paper" the way you're butchering these numbers.

September 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterZachariah Blott

Zach, I never told you or have given you any reason to think I was not an objective observer or anything of the sort. People argue about eyewitness accounts all the time. What logic is in that statement? A thousand studies have been done on the fallibility of eyewitness accounts? Did you literally just pull that one out of your @ss. Yes, I think you did! Phil Jackson's book wasn't entirely about Kobe tearing the team apart (nor for that matter did Kobe tear the team apart. Shaq's demand for top dollar and lack of commitment to physical fitness lead the owner to that conclusion himself). It dealt with the entire team dynamic and the two huge egos of both Shaq and Kobe as well as Phil himself. Did you even read it? He did say Kobe was at the time, uncoachable but has gone on to say that Kobe as well as he, himself have grown since then and obviously we both know the quote in the earlier post supercedes the book you are alluding to, not to mention the accounts of the majority of GM's in the league (according to the annual GM survey conducted by NBA.com) and his peers in the league alike (I trust their points of view a bit more than yours, sorry!). You are good at twisting things conveniently to fit what you want to convey or portray, and that's good for you I guess. In my subjective opinion however, you are the one who CANNOT be objective. You are right about one thing, this conversation is totally and officially over. I can't believe I've wasted so much time and thought on this (I've never been so adamantly opposed to an idea in a written piece like this, ever) already. Now that I think of it, that just may have been your intention all along, just to boost traffic for your site/blog. Good job, you hit on the right topic but I"ll no longer be falling into the trap. So long.

September 6, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterwvan10

@wvan
I've twisted nothing - I've literally looked at the careers of each of these greats in the exact same way. Kobe fans like yourself are the ones who started creating new circumstances and ultra-specific ways of looking at his career in ways that can't be applied to others, thus eliminating the ability to compare any of them while at the some time declaring their system as proof of his superiority. It's absolute nuts, much like anyone whose key instrument of objective analysis is his own viewings when it's well known how unreliable of a method this is (ever been to college? taken a psych 101 class?). But the GM's who keep getting fired for bad decisions all vote in a way that blindly promotes/advances the league-created narratives, which fits your eye witness account? Well then, it sounds like you're really onto something.

September 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterZachariah Blott

"Kidd is a vastly superior offensive rebounder (FF uses OReb, not overall rebounding, so again please stop intentionally clouding the issue),"

_____

BRYANT ORB%: 3.1
KIDD ORB% 4.1

One a game is 'vastly superior?" OK.

As to "clouding the issue" HaterBoy heal thyself.


This is really quite simple, so please don't go out of your way to use FF in ways that make no sense and for which it was never intended.

___


"is always passing and the other shoots more than anyone else in his generation; lots of shots is supposed to mean less turnovers, but not in this case"

BRYANT 11,4
KIDD 18,8

I am not "using" FF at all. YOU Are.

And you're finally starting to get it. FF is a TEAM metric, so using it to evaluate individual players, particularly players who play totally different positions and have totally different roles, has a lot of holes and requires a lot of adjustments.
,
Your argument comes down to this: you counted the Ws and Ls, and you think that settles it. That's OK with me, but you should just admit it. When you said this:

"The stats are great, but if they don’t correspond with more wins, then what’s their value? Obviously I’ll have to consider the sample size of games missed, injuries to fellow teammates, and the context of the games, so those facts will be noted and considered."

You were just BSing.

As to the bio change issue, there is every reason to believe the other guy: his story is specific and it matches your personality and motivation. Your response, that you couldn't change it since you don't run the website--makes little sense. Even if we buy that, all you would have to do is ask the guy who runs the site to make the change for you. So, I think you are probably a liar.

September 7, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternnn

@nnn
Maybe you missed when I explained this to JamesD (for the second time) or when I reiterated it to you, but my bio on another site has never changed. He (JamesD) is remembering an article about my venturing off to my own site in which they continued a running gag about me not liking Kobe which was a gag because a bunch of Kobe fans jumped on me for saying LeBron should win the MVP award three seasons ago. Why don't you go write the guys who run that site and ask them about it? What's that - you don't know what site it was or have ever seen it, but you want to jump into a discussion JamesD brought up and quickly dropped once I reminded him of what was going on? It sounds like you're the one trying to carry an emotional grudge here, not me. And again you're astounding with your handling of numbers. You say Kidd has "one a game" more offensive rebounds, even though it's a percentage (33% more than Kobe, by the way). You honestly need to stay out of conversations like this because it's clear you know nothing about stats or how they work.

September 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterZachariah Blott

The measure, which again means much less than eFG% and turnovers, is Offensive Rebounding, not total rebounding. But whatever - at this point it's clear you're not a numbers person. Just explain to me in an objective manner why Kobe is a great player, and do it in a way that can be applied to other players and doesn't make Tommy Heinsohn look like an all-time top-10 player. Seriously, give that a shot without making yourself look super biased.

September 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterZachariah Blott

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