Sunday, July 8, 2012
Why Kobe and Nash will make a great duo
By Ryan Feldman & Rachel Eldridge, ESPN Stats & Info
Harry How/Getty Images
Kobe Bryant has never played with an elite point guard like Steve Nash.
Using Synergy Sports Technology and other tools to analyze how Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant will coexist as teammates with the Los Angeles Lakers, it seems that they will make quite the duo.
KOBE HAS NEVER PLAYED WITH A POINT GUARD LIKE NASH
Since Kobe’s rookie season, no Laker has averaged seven assists per game, something Nash has done in 12 straight seasons.
Since Shaquille O’Neal’s departure in 2004, none of Kobe’s teammates with at least 20 starts in a season has assisted on more than 22 percent of teammates’ field goals. Nash has never assisted on less than 25 percent of teammates’ field goals in a season in his career, and has led the NBA with an assist percentage of more than 50 in each of his past three seasons.
Last season, no point guard had a higher true shooting percentage (a measure of shooting efficiency that takes into account 2-pointers, 3-pointers and free throws) than Nash (62.5). Ramon Sessions (57.0 with the Lakers) was the only Lakers point guard at better than 50 percent. Andrew Bynum led the Lakers with a 59.4 true shooting percentage.
In fact, no Lakers point guard in the Kobe era (since 1996-97) has had a true shooting percentage as high as Nash’s last season. Nash has been better than 60 percent in eight straight seasons.
NASH PASSES, TEAMMATES MAKE SHOTS
Nash passed the ball on 62 percent of his pick-and-roll plays last season and his teammates shot 51 percent on those passes. He passed the ball on 54 percent of his isolation plays last season and his teammates shot 51 percent on those passes.
Nash passed the ball to spot-up shooters 389 times on pick-and-roll plays last season, the most such passes in the league.
KOBE USUALLY DOESN’T PASS
Kobe passed the ball on only 13.7 percent of his isolation plays last season, the sixth-lowest percentage of the 51 players with at least 25 isolation passes. Only Carmelo Anthony, MarShon Brooks, Russell Westbrook, Josh Smith and J.R. Smith passed the ball less often.
When Kobe passed the ball on isolation plays, his teammates shot 39.2 percent, which ranked 41st of those same 51 players. He passed the ball on 48.9 percent of his pick-and-roll plays last season. On those passes, his teammates shot 42.6 percent.
KOBE MAKES OPEN SHOTS
Of the 337 players with at least 15 unguarded catch-and-shoot jumpers last season, nobody was left open less often than Kobe. Only 35.2 percent of his catch-and-shoot jumpers were unguarded.
When Kobe was left open, he shot 51.3 percent, which ranked 11th of the 113 players with at least 75 unguarded catch-and-shoot jumpers last season. It was the highest such percentage of the nine Lakers players with at least 20 attempts last season.
Based on the Synergy data above, Nash prefers to pass the ball. And when he passes it, his teammates typically shoot a high percentage.
With Nash taking over primary ballhandling duties and Kobe handling the ball less, expect the Lakers to get more open shots and shoot the ball at a higher percentage, including Kobe.
Kobe doesn’t get open very often, but when he does he’s a highly efficient shooter. If Nash is able to get open shots for Kobe, expect the Lakers to be a strong contender.