Stats & Info: Kobe Bryant

Future outlook: Knicks, Lakers, Celtics

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
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This season marked the first time in NBA history that the Knicks, Lakers and Celtics all failed to make it to the postseason.

So where does each franchise go from here?

New York Knicks
The Knicks’ win percentage dropped from .659 last season to .451 in 2013-14.

They only have $31.8M in guaranteed contracts next season but that does not include Carmelo Anthony ($23.3M), Amar'e Stoudemire ($23.4M) or Andrea Bargnani ($11.5M). All 3 players have early-termination options (it’s the player’s option to opt out), but it's a virtual certainty that Stoudemire will remain with the Knicks as no team in the open market would pay anywhere near that number. Bargnani staying in New York seems highly likely as well.

If Carmelo leaves this summer, the Knicks would still likely be over the projected salary cap of $62.9M in 2014-15, but they likely wouldn’t be a taxpaying team.

The result? Their best tool would likely be the non-taxpayer mid-level exception. In 2014-15, that exception allows teams to sign any free agent to a contract with a starting salary up to $5.305M.

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers’ .329 win percentage was their second worst in franchise history and worst since moving to Los Angeles. The Lakers’ 55 losses were their most in franchise history.

Mike D’Antoni's first full season as a NBA head coach came with the Phoenix Suns back in 2004-05. In four full seasons in Phoenix, he guided the team to a .707 win percentage and two Conference Finals appearances. In six combined seasons with the Knicks (four) and Lakers (two), he’s posted a .425 win percentage while failing to win a playoff game.

Kobe Bryant signed a two-year contract extension for $48.5M in November, maintaining his status of the highest-paid player in the league. This summer looms large for the Lakers, who currently have just three guaranteed contracts in 2014-15 for a total of $34.1M.

The projected salary cap for next season is $62.9M and the Lakers could gain around an additional $6.5M in space by using the stretch-provision on Steve Nash (he would be released and his $9.7M contract would be spread over three seasons).

Note: the only Lakers player that has a player option for next season is Nick Young ($1.2M).

Boston Celtics

The Celtics’ .305 win percentage was their third worst in a single season in franchise history.

The only other instance in which both the Celtics and Lakers missed the postseason in the same year came in 1993-94. Following that season was the only year in which both teams had lottery picks (the lottery era dates back to 1985; Celtics took Eric Montross ninth and the Lakers selected Eddie Jones tenth).

Looking ahead to the 2014 draft, the Celtics will have two first-round picks – their own lottery selection and the Nets (17th or 18th overall). it is important to note that Boston also receives a 1st-round pick in 2015 from Philadelphia should that pick fall outside of the lottery (15-30).

The Celtics have $44.7M in guaranteed contracts on the books for 2014-15. The projected salary cap line is $62.9M. While they will have a little wiggle room this offseason, it looks like Danny Ainge has his eyes set on the summer of 2015 as Gerald Wallace’s $10.1M contract is the only guaranteed money Boston has on its books in 2015-16. The only player that could bump that number up significantly is Jeff Green, who has a $9.2M player option in the final year of his contract.

Top stats to know: Kobe's season cut short

March, 12, 2014
Mar 12
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AP Photo/Jae C. HongKobe Bryant fractured his knee on December 17 against the Memphis Grizzlies.
A league source told ESPN’s Chris Broussard that Kobe Bryant will be shut down for the rest of the season. With that in mind, here are the top stats you need to know about Bryant’s future as well as that of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Rough last 11 months
On April 12 last season, Bryant tore his Achilles in a game against the Golden State Warriors, causing him to miss the playoffs and the start of this season. His subsequent rehab went well enough that the Lakers signed him to a two-year extension worth $48.5 million on November 25.

Bryant debuted this season on December 8, but fractured his left knee nine days later against the Memphis Grizzlies. If he is indeed out for the rest of the season, the 76 games missed will by far be the most for any season in his career. His previous high was 17 games missed in the 2003-04 season.

Couldn’t get in rhythm
In the six games Bryant did play this season, he wasn’t in top form. He was held to single digits scoring in three of the games. To put that in perspective, Bryant had not been held to single digits in scoring three times in a single season since the 1998-99 season.

The Lakers went 2-4 with Bryant this season, as their leader averaged just 13.8 points per game in just under 30 minutes per contest.

Chasing Kareem
Bryant’s curtailed season also decreases his odds of catching Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time scoring record.

Bryant trails by 6,688 points and turns 36 in August. Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone are the only players in NBA history to score 6,688 points after turning 36.

If Bryant averages 20 points per game over the rest of his career, he would need to play into the 2018-19 season to take the record.

No Hollywood ending
The Lakers have struggled in Bryant’s absence – their .344 win percentage is on pace for the third-worst in franchise history and the worst since the team moved to Los Angeles.

The .344 win percentage is currently fourth-worst in the league – setting up good odds that the Lakers will pick in the top five of the upcoming NBA Draft. Since the territorial draft was abolished prior to the 1966 draft, the Lakers have made just four picks in the top five. Three of those times, the pick came via trade. The only year that the Lakers played their way into a top five pick in that span was in 1975 when they took Dave Meyers second overall.

Offseason flexibility
Despite signing Bryant to the big two-year extension, the Lakers currently have just three guaranteed contracts on the books for 2014-15 for a total of $34.1M (Bryant, Steve Nash, Robert Sacre). The projected salary cap for next season is $62.9M and the Lakers could gain around an additional $6.5M in space via the stretch-provision by releasing Nash as his $9.7M contract would be spread over 3 seasons.

Lakers win a wacky game

February, 6, 2014
Feb 6
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AP Photo/Mark DuncanRobert Sacre fouled out, but remained in the game on Wednesday vs the Cavaliers.
Wednesday’s contest between the Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers began odd considering the Lakers dressed only eight players, but no one could have predicted how quirky the game's ending would be. The Lakers eventually pulled out all the stops to break a seven-game losing streak.

Sacre fouls out, keeps playing
Los Angeles dressed eight players for the game. Nick Young and Jordan Farmar suffered injuries and could not return. First, Chris Kaman fouled out, then backup center Robert Sacre fouled out with 3:31 remaining in the 4th quarter. Sacre was allowed to continue playing because of a little-known rule that stated the last disqualified player had to remain on the court if the team didn’t have any remaining healthy and eligible players.

The Lakers were assessed a technical foul because they did not have any remaining healthy players. Had Sacre committed any additional fouls (which he did not), the Lakers would have been assessed a technical foul as well.

Lakers huge offensive night
The Lakers were hot out of the gate tonight, scoring 70 first-half points. It was their highest scoring half of the season.

Steve Blake recorded his second career triple-double with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 15 assists. Over the last quarter century, the only other Lakers players with at least 15 assists in a triple-double are Kobe Bryant (once in 2002) and Magic Johnson (14 times from 1988-91).

The Lakers made 18 three-pointers, a franchise record for a regulation game. The only game in franchise history where they made more came in an overtime loss to the Wizards in December 2006.

Cavaliers trade making no difference
A futile first half hurt the Cavaliers. They shot 1-18 from three-point range in the first half, the worst half for any team with at least 15 attempts in a half this season.

The Cavaliers have now matched their season-worst losing skid at six. Since trading for Luol Deng on January 7, they are 5-10 – an identical record to the 15 games before the trade. Deng was 1-10 from the field Wednesday. His 10 percent from the field was the worst shooting percentage of his career in a game in which he had at least 10 attempts.

Top stats to know: Heat at Lakers

December, 25, 2013
12/25/13
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The Lakers take on the Heat in the Staples Center at 5 p.m. ET on ABC.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is the 15th consecutive year that the Lakers are playing on Christmas (since 1999), second only to the Knicks, who played on Christmas for 38 straight years (1950 to 1987).

Kobe Bryant has played in an NBA-record 14 straight Christmas games, a streak that will end Wednesday. The longest active streak of games played on Christmas now belongs to LeBron James, who will have played in seven straight after Wednesday.

The Heat are a perfect 6-0 against the Western Conference this season. They're averaging 110.2 points per game and shooting 56.1 percent in those games, both best in the NBA.

On top of that, the Heat are 4-0 all time against the Lakers on Christmas. The teams last met on Dec. 25 back in 2010, the first season in which the Big Three was formed. James recorded a triple-double in that game, totaling 27 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

Let's take a look at some important stats to keep an eye on during Wednesday's game.

James' torrid pace

LeBron is on pace to have one of the most efficient seasons in NBA history. King James is averaging 24.9 points on a career-best 60.1 percent shooting. The only player in NBA history who averaged at least 25 points while shooting 60 percent or better from the field in a single season was Kevin McHale in 1986-87.

James shot 56.5 percent from the field last season. Should he increase his field goal percentage again this season, it would be the seventh straight season he's done so.

[+] EnlargeLeBron James
ESPN Stats & InformationJames has improved his field goal percentage in each of the past six seasons. If he continues this pace, he will become only the second player in NBA history to accomplish that.


Lenny Wilkens is the only player in NBA history who increased his field goal percentage in seven consecutive seasons, and his highest shooting percentage during that streak was 44.0 percent.

LeBron is averaging 28.2 points in 20 career games against the Lakers, the fourth-highest mark all time. Only Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Jordan had higher averages against the Lakers.

James can join some legendary ranks this season. He is seeking to join Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell as the only players in NBA history to win three straight MVPs.

On top of that, he can win his fifth MVP award. The only players to win at least five are Abdul-Jabbar (six), Jordan (five) and Russell (five).

He also can become the first player in NBA history to win five MVP awards in a six-season span.

Lakers better without Kobe?

Bryant holds the record for appearances (15) and total points (383) on Christmas Day. The last time the Lakers played a Christmas game without Bryant was in 1991, when they defeated the Clippers 85-75.

But the Lakers are 11-11 without their superstar, compared to 2-4 with Bryant active. L.A. has won seven of its past 11 games without Bryant.

Nick Young leads the Lakers in scoring average this season with 15.4 points per game. That’s the second-fewest points by a team’s leading scorer this season. Only O.J. Mayo, who leads the Bucks in scoring, has a lower average (13.9).

Top stats to know: Kobe Bryant's injury

December, 19, 2013
12/19/13
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What are the top stats to know related to the announcement that Kobe Bryant will likely miss the next six weeks with a knee injury?

Kobe wasn’t helping that much
The Lakers were 2-4 since Bryant’s return after starting the season 10-9 without him.

The Lakers were playing a lot better as Bryant’s return drew closer. They were 6-2 in the last eight games before he came back, averaging 109.1 points per 100 possesions. In Bryant's 177 minutes on the court, the Lakers were outscored by 32 points and averaged only 96.9 points per 100 possessions.

Bryant was averaging 13.8 points on 42.5 percent shooting in six games. He’d scored 20 or more points three times, but had also been held to single digits three times, alternating between the two. It was his most such single-digit scoring games since the 1998-99 season.

Bryant had 34 turnovers, the most of anyone in the NBA since December 8.

What were Bryant’s biggest issues
Bryant ran 28 pick-and-roll plays in which he was the ballhandler and 15 of them resulted in him turning the ball over. Among the 121 players who have run at least 25 pick-and-rolls as a ballhandler this season, Bryant’s turnover percentage (54 percent) is by far the worst. Only one other player, Nick Calathes, had a turnover percentage of 40 percent or worse.

Bryant also started the season with a shooting touch that was a bit rusty. He was shooting 33 percent from the floor on shots 10 feet and out. For his career, Bryant is a 39 percent shooter from that range.

The Lakers were working Bryant back slowly. Last season, 28 percent of his plays came with him running something in isolation. In six games this season, that rate was only 12 percent. Bryant was used more in a post-up role, doing so on 22 percent of his plays in the six games, compared to 13 percent last season.

Elias Sports Bureau: Did You Know?
This season will mark the first time that Bryant will miss a game played on Dec. 25 in his NBA career. Bryant is the NBA’s all-time leader in games played (15) and points scored (383) on that date.

Top stats to know: Kobe Bryant's return

December, 7, 2013
12/07/13
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Danny La-USA TODAY SportsThe Los Angeles Lakers will welcome back Kobe Bryant Sunday night against the Toronto Raptors.

In an April 12 game against the Golden State Warriors, Kobe Bryant hit the deck after tearing his left Achilles and missed the final two games of the season and the playoffs. Two hundred forty days later, Bryant will make his Los Angeles Lakers return against the Toronto Raptors on Sunday.

Making History
Bryant had the best season ever by a player in his 17th season or later in terms of scoring last season. He averaged 27.3 points per game, 3.9 points per game more than the previous record set by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in his 17th season during the 1985-86 season.

The record for the highest single-season scoring average by a player in his 18th season or later belongs to Karl Malone. He averaged 20.6 points per game in his final season with the Utah Jazz.

Approaching records
Bryant is one of five players in NBA history with 30,000 career points. Currently fourth on the all-time scoring list, Bryant is just 676 points away from passing Michael Jordan for third. In NBA postseason history, Bryant is third on the all-time scoring list, just 348 points away from passing Jordan for first.

If Kobe has his sights on passing Abdul-Jabbar for first on the all-time scoring list, he’ll need to play past his current contract which ends in 2015-16. If Bryant averages 25.0 points the rest of the way, he’ll need to play three full 82-game seasons and then 25 more games on top of that.

Style of Play Change
The Lakers have used a more traditional Mike D’Antoni offense without Bryant this season, using pick-and-roll plays (including passes) at the fifth-highest rate in the league, compared to the 20th-highest rate last season. The Lakers are relying more on catch-and-shoot plays, one reason why they lead the league with 10.7 made 3-pointers per game.

Recruiting Skills
Bryant signed a two-year contract extension for $48.5M on November 25th, maintaining his status of the highest-paid player in the league. This summer looms large for the Lakers, who currently have three players under contract in 2014-15 for a total of $34.1M in guaranteed money. The projected salary cap for next season is $62.9M and the Lakers could gain more space by using the stretch-provision on Steve Nash (he would be released and his $9.7M contract would be spread over three seasons).

Two best All-Star scorers take the floor

February, 16, 2013
2/16/13
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NBAE/Getty Images
Kevin Durant (left) and LeBron James have the two highest scoring averages in All-Star Game history.
We preview the NBA All-Star Game with 10 facts you need to know.

• Kevin Durant won his first All-Star Game MVP award last year after scoring 36 points. He’s scored 30 or more points in two straight All-Star Games, the only player in NBA history to accomplish that feat. His career scoring average (28.3 points) is an All-Star record (minimum 60 career points).

• LeBron James, making his ninth All-Star appearance, ranks second in career scoring average (25.9 points) in the game. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, James has scored at least 20 points in each of his past seven All-Star Games, the longest such streak for any player in NBA history.

• Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett were selected to the All-Star Game for the 15th time. Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has more career selections (19). Bryant’s 15 selections have come consecutively, the longest active streak. His 271 career points are the most in NBA history and his four MVPs are tied with Bob Pettit for most all time.

• Bryant and Dwight Howard are slated to start for the Western Conference, but the Los Angeles Lakers enter the All-Star break in 10th place in the West. According to Elias, the Lakers could be the fourth team since the merger (1976-77 season) to miss the playoffs in a season with two All-Star starters on the roster. The last team to do so was the 2005-06 Rockets (Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming).

The Lakers will also become the first team in All-Star Game history to start two different centers in back-to-back years (Andrew Bynum in 2012).

• The Miami Heat lead the way with three All-Star selections -- all three of whom will start -- becoming one of eight teams with multiple selections. According to Elias, they’ll be the sixth trio of teammates to start the All-Star Game following a championship season, and the first since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and James Worthy in 1986.

• Kyrie Irving is the sixth-youngest player ever selected to an All-Star team (he’ll be 20 years, 331 days old on Sunday).

• David Lee earned the Golden State Warriors' first All-Star selection since 1997 (Latrell Sprewell). That leaves the Milwaukee Bucks and the Sacramento Kings as the teams with the longest active streaks without an All-Star (nine seasons).

• Stephen Curry is averaging 21.0 points per game this season, the highest average for a player not selected to an All-Star team. Monta Ellis is fourth on that list (18.4), but he’s got the highest career points per game without ever being selected to the All-Star Game (minimum 400 games played).

Jeremy Lin
Lin
• Jeremy Lin of the Houston Rockets was the only player among the top 10 vote-getters who was not selected to the All-Star Game. He finished ninth, between Howard and Blake Griffin. Bryant led the way with more than 1.5 million votes, just ahead of James.

• The Eastern Conference leads the series 36-25, but the West has won two straight and three of the past four games. A third straight victory by the West would be tied for its longest win streak (three straight from 2002 to '04).

Better right now: Kobe or Carmelo?

December, 13, 2012
12/13/12
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Getty ImagesKobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony are the top two scorers in the NBA this season.
When the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks face off tonight, the matchup to watch will be between this season’s top two leading scorers –- Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony.

Both players are having superb seasons, but here's the question:

Who would you rather have right now: Kobe or Carmelo?

Kobe Bryant
Despite the Lakers' struggles this season, it may not be Kobe's fault. The Lakers are a much better team with Bryant on the court this season. They're 20 points better per 48 minutes with Kobe on court -- 17 points better at the offensive end and three points better on the defensive end.

Most would agree that Bryant is a top-10 player of all-time and historically better Anthony. If that is the case, it's hard to argue the case for Carmelo when Kobe is having one of the best seasons of his career from an efficiency standpoint.

Kobe has career highs this season in field-goal percentage, 3-point percentage, true shooting percentage, offensive rating and win shares per 48 minutes -- that covers virtually every vital offensive statistic.

What about at the defensive end? Kobe is still an elite man-to-man defender, holding opponents to 32 percent shooting this season. Of the 155 players to defend at least 150 plays this season, Kobe is holding opponents to the 12th-fewest points per play. Carmelo ranks 75th on that same list.

The problem with the Lakers may not be Kobe, but rather their over-reliance on him.

The more the Lakers have relied on Bryant this season, the less successful they've been. The Lakers are 2-11 when Kobe's usage percentage is at least 30 and 7-2 when his usage percentage is below 30. Before Mike D'Antoni was on the sidelines, Kobe's usage percentage was 29.5. Since D'Antoni took over, it's 34.6, which ranks second in the NBA to Carmelo during that span.

Carmelo Anthony
Kobe isn't the only one having a career season at the offensive end. Carmelo is averaging career highs in 3-point percentage, offensive rating win shares per 48 minutes.

The most impressive part of Carmelo's increased offensive efficiency this season is that he's doing it with a career-high 34.2 usage percentage, which leads the league.

Then, there's the clutch factor.

While "clutch" may be a word associated with Kobe's past, statistics show that may not be the case anymore. Kobe is shooting 5-of-17 (29.4 percent) this season in crunch time -- in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime with the score within five points. Carmelo is slightly better at 6-of-16 (37.5 percent).

In fact, Carmelo shot a higher percentage on those shots last season and in 2010-11 as well.

When the game's really on the line, it's the same story. Carmelo has shot a better percentage on game-tying and go-ahead shots in the final 24 seconds of the game in each of the previous two seasons. Last year, Carmelo shot 4-of-8 on those shots, while Kobe shot 3-of-15.

With Carmelo on the court this season, the Knicks are 14 points better at the offensive end but two-and-a-half points worse defensively per 48 minutes.

Who would YOU rather have? Leave your comments below.

Kobe's long-range vs KD's mid-range game

December, 7, 2012
12/07/12
1:56
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US Presswire, Getty ImagesKevin Durant (left) and the Thunder take on Kobe Bryant and the Lakers tonight.
The NBA’s two leading scorers take center stage on ESPN tonight when Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers travel to Oklahoma City to face Kevin Durant’s Thunder.

Bryant leads the league in scoring at 28 points per game, and in his 17th season he is shooting a career-high 49 percent from the field. Durant has continued to improve in his sixth season, also shooting a career-high 51 percent.

One reason for Kobe’s success this season is his shooting from 15 feet or further from the basket. He is shooting a career-high 42 percent and averaging 1.05 points per field-goal attempt from that distance.

Bryant has never shot higher than 40 percent from at least 15 feet in his career and has not averaged more than one point per shot from that distance since his rookie season. He is also shooting 37 percent from the 3-point line, on pace for his highest percentage since the 2002-03 season.

Bryant’s proficiency from at least 15 feet this season has coincided with fewer shot attempts from that distance.

He has attempted 46 percent of his overall field goals from at least 15 feet, which is on pace to be his lowest percentage since the 2003-04 season. During the previous eight seasons, Bryant attempted 56 percent of his shots from at least 15 feet, including a career-high 63 percent of his shots in 2005-06.

While Kobe is having his best season shooting from at least 15 feet, it is the mid-range jumper where Durant has been most improved.

Durant is shooting 53 percent on shots between five and 14 feet, the highest percentage in his career and highest in the league, minimum 50 shot attempts. Entering this season, Durant was shooting 41 percent on mid-range jumpers and had never shot higher than 47 percent in a season on such shots.

Bryant has been slightly better than Durant this season on shots inside five feet and from at least 15 feet, but the mid-range game is where Durant holds a major advantage. Bryant is shooting 43 percent on shots between five and 14 feet, which is on pace for his second-lowest percentage from that distance since the 2005-06 season.

If Kobe is going to continue his strong shooting from 15-plus feet tonight, he will have to improve on his shooting numbers from last season against the Thunder. In eight games against Oklahoma City (including the playoffs) in 2011-12, Bryant shot 30 percent from at least 15 feet and was 5-for-27 on 3-point attempts.

Bryant on verge of youngest to 30,000 Pts

December, 4, 2012
12/04/12
3:45
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Jayne Kamin-Oncea/US PresswireKobe Bryant needs 52 points to reach 30,000 for his career.
The Los Angeles Lakers visit the Houston Rockets tonight with Kobe Bryant just 52 points shy of 30,000 for his career. Only four players in NBA history have reached the 30,000-point milestone (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain).

Thanks to an NBA career that began at age 18, Bryant (age 34) is poised to become the youngest player to reach the mark. There is an outside chance he could eclipse 30,000 points tonight, as he has scored at least 52 points in a game 14 times in his career. What's more, three of those games have come against the Rockets, which is tied for his most against any opponent.

While Bryant will be the youngest to reach 30,000 career points, he is also getting there with more mileage. He has over 7,000 more career minutes played (including playoffs) than Jordan had when he reached 30,000, which is approximately two and a half 82-game seasons averaging 35 minutes per game.

What is the rough equivalent of reaching 30,000 points in the NBA? Based on how rarely it is attained, it is similar to several other elite milestone across pro sports. Only four players have 50,000 passing yards in the NFL, while only five players have reached 3,500 hits in MLB.

Looking ahead, when will Bryant potentially move up the scoring ladder? Assuming he averages 25 points per game and does not miss another game this season, he would match Chamberlain by the end of this season.

As for catching all-time leader Abdul-Jabbar, if Bryant keeps up his 25.0 points per game pace, which is roughly his career average, he could track him down in the 2016-17 season.

Heat Look to Capitalize on Epic Mismatch

Elsewhere, the Miami Heat (12-3) travel to play the Washington Wizards (1-13) tonight in a notable mismatch (more than a 700-point difference in winning percentages). According to Elias, over the last 20 seasons visiting teams with that large of an advantage in winning percentage this late in a season (with both teams having played 14 games) are 26-7.

In addition, the Wizards are running into a very hot Miami squad, as the Heat are riding a season-high six-game win streak and are looking to start 13-3 for the first time in franchise history.

Washington is likely going to have a tough time defending Miami, which ranks top five in the league in points per 100 possessions, effective field goal percentage and turnover percentage. The Wizards, on the other hand, rank last in both points per 100 possessions and effective field goal percentage.

Adding to the Wizards’ woes is their poor three-point shooting. They have attempted 305 three-pointers, their most in franchise history through 14 games according to Elias, but have connected on just 30.2 percent. That's their second-lowest percentage in the three-point era (minimum 200 attempts) over that span.

Mike Brown's offense wasn't the problem

November, 9, 2012
11/09/12
5:08
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Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesMike Brown (left) and Dwight Howard didn’t prove to be a winning combination through five games.
There's speculation that Mike Brown may have been fired because of his Princeton offense.

But the Lakers offense wasn’t the primary problem. It was their defense.

In 2010-11, the season before Brown was hired, the Lakers allowed the sixth-fewest points per possession in the NBA.

Each of the last two seasons (under Brown), they’ve allowed more points per possession. They ranked 13th in the league last season and are 23rd this season.

Over the last two seasons, the Lakers are the worst team in the league at forcing turnovers. Their 12.1 opponent turnover percentage during that span ranks last.

In 2010-11, the Lakers held opponents to the fifth-lowest field-goal percentage within five feet of the basket. Each of the last two seasons, under Brown, that percentage has increased.

On the offensive end, they haven’t been bad. In fact, they’ve improved.

This season, they rank sixth in the NBA in offensive efficiency with nearly 105 points per 100 possessions, more than a point per 100 possessions better than last season.

The problem on the offensive end has been turnovers.

But are turnovers a reflection on the coach or the players?

It could be argued either way, but here’s the damning evidence:

After ranking in the top five of the league in turnover percentage each of the three seasons prior to Brown coming to Los Angeles, the Lakers ranked 21st last season and are dead last this season in turnover percentage. They're turning the ball over once every five possessions.

Another problem was their lack of bench production. After scoring the fewest bench points per game last season, they’re scoring the second-fewest this season.

No matter what really was the primary issue, Brown was the third-quickest firing in NBA history. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only Dolph Schayes in 1971-72 (coached one game for the Buffalo Braves) and Chick Reiser in 1952-53 (coached three games for the Baltimore Bullets) coached fewer games to start a season before a coaching change was made.

Can the Lakers still win it all? No team that has started 1-4 or worse has ever won the NBA Championship.


Statistical support for this story from NBA.com.

Kobe or Kyrie? Who wins one-on-one?

July, 13, 2012
7/13/12
11:06
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Getty ImagesKyrie Irving challenged Kobe Bryant after a Team USA practice to a game of one-on-one.
Who would win a one-on-one matchup? Kobe Bryant or Kyrie Irving?

Irving challenged Bryant to a one-on-one game with the loser donating $50,000 to charity.

In order to analyze this hypothetical matchup, let's take a look at how each player performed last season on various play types that represent pure one-on-one situations using Synergy Sports Technology.

SINGLE-COVERED ISOLATION PLAYS

OFFENSE

The majority of a one-on-one matchup between two guards would likely be comprised of single-covered isolation plays.

Irving scored the second-most points per play on single-covered isolation plays last season of the 63 players with at least 100 plays, trailing only Chris Paul. Of those same 63 players, Kobe ranked 21st. Irving shot 49 percent, while Bryant shot 38 percent.

DEFENSE

On defense, it's a different story.

Of the 99 players to defend at least 75 single-covered isolation plays last season, Kyrie allowed the third-most points per play. Only Steve Blake and Dorell Wright were worse. Of those same 99 players, Bryant ranked 24th. Kyrie allowed opponents to go to the free throw line 15 percent of the time, the sixth-highest percentage, while Kobe only sent opponents to the charity stripe on six percent of those plays, the 10th-lowest percentage.

SINGLE-COVERED POST-UP PLAYS

OFFENSE

Irving only had nine single-covered post-up plays last season, but he was very effective on those nine plays, shooting 5-of-9 (55.6 percent) with no turnovers or free throws.

Although a small sample size, Irving's 1.11 points per play on single-covered post-up plays was better than Bryant's 0.94.

Of the 225 players with at least nine single-covered post-up plays last season, Irving scored the sixth-most points per play, while Bryant ranked 53rd.

Kobe’s most effective post-up move is facing up from the right block. Of the 31 players with at least 20 of those plays, Bryant had by far the most points per play (1.46) and highest field-goal percentage (71).

DEFENSE

Neither player spent much time defending single-covered post-up plays, but when they did, Kobe was more effective. He held opponents to 28 percent shooting and the ninth-fewest points per play of the 265 players to defend at least 25 single-covered post-up plays.

Of those same 265 players, Kyrie ranked 63rd in points per play allowed. He held opponents to 38 percent shooting. Irving's strength defending those plays was the ability to not commit fouls. His opponents only reached the free throw line on five percent of those plays, the 13th-lowest percentage. Kobe's opponents got to the free throw line 15 percent of the time, which ranked 189th.

JUMPERS OFF THE DRIBBLE

OFFENSE

Kobe gets the edge in jumpers off the dribble. He shot 40 percent, which ranked 26th of the 95 players with at least 100 jumpers off the dribble last season, while Irving shot 35.3 percent, which ranked 62nd. In effective field-goal percentage, which factors in 3-pointers as well, it's a little closer. Kobe was 41 percent (ranked 42nd), while Kyrie was 40 percent (52nd).

DEFENSE

Kobe held opponents to 33 percent shooting on jumpers off the dribble last season, the 24th-lowest percentage of the 157 players to defend at least 100 jumpers off the dribble. Irving's opponents shot 42.2 percent, which ranked 133rd.

2012 Team USA: Better than Dream Team?

July, 12, 2012
7/12/12
1:11
AM ET
US PresswireWould the current U.S. Olympic team have a chance against the Dream Team?
Kobe Bryant believes the 2012 U.S. Olympic team would beat the 1992 Olympic team. Is he correct?

According to AccuScore, which ran 10,000 computer simulations, the 1992 team would win 53.1 percent of the time and by an average margin of one point per game.

No one will ever know the true answer, but let's take a look at the Next Level analytical facts about the rosters at each point of their careers to help make the case either way.

REBOUNDING AND DEFENSE

Much has been made about the current team’s weak frontcourt. The 1992 team had four players who grabbed at least 15 percent of available rebounds in 1991-92 (Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, David Robinson). The current team has three players at that rebound rate last season (Tyson Chandler, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love).

The 1992 team had two players (Ewing, Robinson) who blocked at least 5 percent of the shot attempts they faced in 1991-92. No 2012 player had a block percentage higher than 3.4 last season (Chandler).

SHOOTING

Four current members had a true shooting percentage (a measure of shooting efficiency that takes into account 2-pointers, 3-pointers and free throws) of at least 60 last season (Chandler, Kevin Durant, James Harden, LeBron James). Chandler (70.8 in 2011-12) led the NBA each of the past two seasons. Only one of the 1992 members had a 60 true shooting percentage (Barkley), although three others fell just short of that threshold in 1991-92 (Malone, Robinson, John Stockton).

PASSING

Five Dream Team members assisted on at least 25 percent of their teammates’ field goals in 1991-92 (Larry Bird, Clyde Drexler, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Stockton), plus Magic Johnson had a 49.3 assist percentage in his most recent NBA season (1990-91). LeBron, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Deron Williams had a 25 assist percentage or better last season, but none were as high as Stockton (53.7), who was in the midst of leading the league in assist percentage for 10 straight seasons.

AGE, EXPERIENCE AND CHAMPIONSHIPS

The 1992 team was about 2½ years older on average (28.8-26.2). Other than Bird and Magic, every Dream Team member was 30 years old or younger. Every member of the current team is 29 or younger, other than Kobe, who is 33.

But the NBA experience level is about the same. The 1992 team had, on average, 7.3 years of experience per player. This year’s team has 7.1.

As far as NBA titles, give the edge to the 1992 team. Its players had a combined 12 championships as they entered the Olympics -- five by Magic, three by Bird and two each from Jordan and Pippen.

The 2012 version has seven championships among them, carried by Kobe’s five. LeBron and Chandler each have one. The current team has members of each of the past four NBA champions, while the 1992 team had members of the then-past two champions.

PLAYER VALUE/EFFICIENCY

Using average win shares per 48 minutes in their previous NBA seasons, (including Magic’s 1990-91 season and not including Christian Laettner), the 1992 squad’s average is higher by 9 percent (.215-.198). Prefer player efficiency rating to win shares? The Dream Team’s PER was 3 percent higher (23.8-23.0).

IN THEIR PRIME?

Other than Laettner, all 11 Dream Team members are Hall of Famers. And only two could be considered in the twilight of their careers. Bird had just finished his last NBA season, while Magic had retired the previous year, although he made a brief comeback in 1995-96. As for this edition, one could make the case that all but the 33-year-old Kobe on the roster could appear on another Olympic team again.

The 2012 team gets under way with an exhibition game Thursday against the Dominican Republic on ESPN at 9 p.m. ET. Only time will tell whether this team is the modern-day Dream Team.

Why Kobe and Nash will make a great duo

July, 8, 2012
7/08/12
12:19
PM ET
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.

CONCLUSION

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.

Michael Hickey/US Presswire LeBron James has at least 30 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists in back-to-back postseason games.
Game 6 between the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers (ESPN, 8 ET) will feature several key storylines to watch, including how the Heat replace a suspended Udonis Haslem. Miami will be without one of its best mid-range shooters, as Haslem has made seven mid-range jump shots (outside paint, inside 3-point territory) this series, trailing only LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

Haslem has also been a spark off the Heat's bench in the last three games, scoring double figures in each of the last two. In three games Haslem has come off the bench this postseason, Miami averages 25.7 bench points. In seven games Haslem started, the Heat have gotten only 16.1 points from their bench.

With Dexter Pittman also suspended, the best option for the Heat is likely Ronny Turiaf, as his +13 this series is the highest among the Heat's available big men for Game 6. In this series, Turiaf has played only 65 minutes in five games. However, when he's been on the court, the Heat have outscored the Pacers by 13 points. Miami has also limited Indiana to just 33 percent shooting when he's playing. Also available in the frontcourt are Joel Anthony (+7) and Juwan Howard (+5).

Overall, the Heat appear to be in good position to advance. In NBA history, teams that have held a 3-2 lead in a best-of-seven series have gone on to win the series 85.9 percent of the time, including 4-0 in the First Round this postseason. In addition, the Pacers have never come back to win a best-of-seven series after trailing 3-2 (according to Elias they are 0-8 all-time).

James has been a prime reason why the Heat can close out the series tonight. He has recorded at least 30 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists in back-to-back postseason games, and if he matches those numbers in Game 6, he will become the first player in NBA history to do so in three consecutive postseason games.

History says James will have another strong performance tonight. According to Elias, James has scored at least 20 points in each of the last 11 potential playoff series-clinching games on the road, the second-longest current streak of any player in the league, behind only Kobe Bryant (19).

Meanwhile, Danny Granger (sprained ankle) has said that he will start Game 6. His play will be crucial, as he has been much better at home this series than on the road (averaging over nine points more at home).

What's more, the combination of himself, Paul George, Roy Hibbert, George Hill and David West have outscored opponents by 75 points when on the court together, the highest of any five-man lineup on any team this postseason.

A key for Indiana will be on the boards. The Pacers have outrebounded the Heat 102-76 in their wins in Games 2 and 3, but have lost the battle on the boards in their losses in Games 4 and 5 (outrebounded 96-73). When Hibbert is on the court, the Pacers are +15 rebounding, but with him off are -19.

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