This is disturbing: .39, .33, .38, and .19. That’s Kobe’s shooting percentages in his last four games.

Being just fans — without inside info on how much this is really affecting Kobe — we can only speculate, but it appears that recently, it’s affecting him a lot. From what I’ve watched, it seems to really affect his touch from about 12 feet all the way to the basket.

When I watch Kobe this year, I don’t see the hops that he once had, or even had last year. You can see when an athlete’s leaping ability has left him: instead of exploding and ascending when he leaps (a la Wade and LeBron), he simply jumps, lacking that rising action.

If you watch Kobe’s early games this season — before the finger, when he could still dunk with authority — he would be in full-stride on a fast break, jump off of one foot, and it basically looked like he arrived at the rim, instead of being truly above the rim. Now going back to his finishing, the lack of springs didn’t really affect this early in the year, because he had gotten stronger and more savvy around the basket.

However, now with his finger affecting his touch, combined with the lack of hops, Kobe has not looked like the Kobe we know when he’s trying to finish in traffic. It just seems that lately, he’s thrown up way more prayers in the lane than I’m accustomed to seeing.

Now it’s Kobe, so that doesn’t mean he hasn’t found ways to compensate and still be effective. If you go back, and watch the last four or five games, Kobe’s distance shooting — 15 feet and out — doesn’t look to be nearly as hindered. This makes sense, because this is where he usually goes to his face-up and pull-up game. In these instances he can compensate for his lack of finger strength with his legs, hand/wrist/forearm, and grip. Perhaps this explains the improvement of his 3 point shooting as of late, and those miraculous game winners.

Speaking of which, my buddy Chris, is a die hard Kings fan. I know watching Kobe drill that game winner — along with the schooling of Tyreke Evans on D, and nailing those clutch treys in the previous matchup — really got to him. So I asked him what it felt like to watch Kobe rip the Kings’ heart out at the buzzer. He said as soon as Kobe caught the ball, he KNEW it was going in; that watching Kobe close out a game in the 4th is not surprising at all, because he’s basically the Jordan of this generation. We Laker fans know this, but that’s some major respect coming from a Kings’ fan.

Anyway, to compound things, and make matters worse, Pau is hurt, Luke is hurt, and Sasha has actually been getting significantly more playing time. Of course this is leading to an increase in Bryant’s minutes, and with the amount of games he has put on his legs in the last two years this is not a good thing.

He’s averaging 38.5 MPG (minutes per game) this year, which scares the hell out of me! In the 07-08 run to the finals, he averaged 38.9 MPG, and in that last series against Boston, he looked a little worn down. I really don’t want to see a banged up and worn down Kobe in the Finals (assuming we get there, of course), because when Kobe is shooting 14-37 we are not winning the Championship.

This raises the question: Should Kobe sit out a few weeks, or even a month? Before I wrote this, I spoke to a friend of mine who happens to be a certified athletic trainer. I asked her what her opinion was regarding Kobe’s injury, him playing with it, and if there was a chance that it could get better during the season and she said: “It most likely will not heal, and if it’s not properly managed it can lead to permanent deformity. It doesn’t seem to smart to me, but I’m sure he has a group of doctors looking after it, whose advice I’m sure he’s going against. I hope it works out okay for him.”  Well now that was reassuring.

Look, if this injury is affecting Kobe to the point where he’s shooting .33, then his shot volume may actually be hurting us, and because of our injuries, and lack of a bench, he’s had to log massive minutes. So what we’re left with is a Kobe, who is not producing at the offensive end, but is still killing and running the hell out of his legs. Kobe will never sit out, but perhaps he should.

At first glance, the thought of the Black Mamba sitting out seems suicidal to our season, but it may actually help us out down the stretch. What are the worst things that could happen to us? Well, it can’t be much worse than what’s been happening to us now. We just dropped back to back games to the Clippers and lost once again to the Blazers in Portland (where Kobe was thoroughly outplayed by Brandon Roy). If Kobe sits out, maybe we lose that game that we won against the Kings, or that game we won against Milwaukee.

But maybe Vujacic’s re-emerges, or maybe Bynum figures out how to play with Pau. Perhaps the increased minutes that Shannon Brown and Farmar would see, would further blossom Shannon and help Jordan find his game again.

We would definitely not be a better team without Kobe, and we may drop a couple more games than we normally would, but if the bench finds themselves and it helps some of our role players re-emerge would the extra losses not be worth it? True, we are in a battle for home court, but it doesn’t appear that Boston and Cleveland are just ready to run off with it.

And when all is said done, Kobe’s finger will be stronger, his legs will be rested, and he’ll be ready to take on the post-season. I know Kobe is resourceful, and even if he doesn’t sit (which we know that he most likely will not do), he’ll find a way to still be a great player, but it’s harder to repeat than it is to win the Championship. The Lakers are going to need a full strength Kobe to beat the Cavaliers or the Celtics in a seven game series.

Put it this way: .39, .33, .38. and .19 could be Kobe’s shooting percentages in a four game stretch during the NBA Finals. If Kobe shoots like this in the Finals, does anybody like our chances?

  • JFK-analysis-at-TLN

    I disagree with this article, Kobe has lost some of his hops (comes with age) but not to the point that it affects his game. His finger is the true reason why he has not been attacking and dunking like we normally see. remember when he got blocked my ronnie in the Goolden State game? he was up way above the rim my friends.
    Leave Kobe alone, if it was not for his THREE buzzer beaters, we would have the 3rd best record in the NBA. Kobe is still the best, i hope i’m still watching this guy when he is 41. Go write about the bench, sasha, or something that actually worth reading.

    His shooting is off, but Phil already said it was because of experiments with the finger.
    Ron Ron has no hops lol, it’s funny and aggravating every time he misses and easy layup that he should have dunked.

    • ilikebasketball

      ron roon though has two broken feet. so there’s an excuse there.
      and pau is injured.
      and we still have the best record in the league(though, yes, we started off easily with all the home games, but it’s still impressive)

  • LakerFaninSanAntone

    Good for you JFK-analysis-at-TLN! Kobe has had a few rough games recently but he is gonna rip the Spurs up tonight. I promise!!

  • bad bad bad

    wow…. and you call yourself a laker fan LOL. Kobe is fine, its just his finger, you make it sound like hes done, you bad bad bad bad bad laker fan

  • LAKERMIKE247

    I REALLY LIKE THIS ARTICLE BECUASE STUFF LIKE THIS MADE KOBE THE BEST PLAYER EVER.I HOPE KOBE OR SOMEONE THAT KNOWS KOBE READS THIS AND TELLS HIM ABOUT THIS

  • deemac1

    Interesting article but I have to dissagree bout Kobe’s hops failing him. Ofcourse it looks that way if your compairing him to Shannon or Dwade or Lebron, but his hops look just like they did last year. The difference is that with a broken finger he isnt gonna be going to the hole trying to dunk the ball because he cant reall palm the ball anymore. I really wouldnt go as far as you suggest bout age cause Kobe always defies the odds and shut the doubters up. If anyone on the lakers that doesnt have ups its Ron! That guy has a 1 inch vertical! lol Kobe does need to take a few games off when pau returns tho. In order to heal that finger completely! Hopefully he does but some how I doubt it

  • LeShaq

    We should trade Kobe and Bynum for Shaq and Lebron!!!

    • ilikebasketball

      ugh. disgusting.

    • http://lakersnation showtime4eva

      lebron?who?you mean the dancing clown cheerleader for the cavs?

  • xtro

    alas. all the better that we should trade bynum for bosh. kobe needs help.

  • The Mamba24

    I’m am not worried one bit. At the end of the day, IT’S KOBE BRYANT.

  • KING BQ

    STFU man. Lakers and Kobe are okay. Erytime we start strugglin a lil, y’all start pissing me off.

    What kind of a Fan are you man? We cannot play perfcetly all day.

    We are still on the Top. so whut?

    LA 4 LIFE… no matter whut!

  • Robert

    Kobe’s just ‘learning’ what to do to compensate. It’s taken a few games, but trust me, he will learn and then you’ll see better numbers. Any time an injury occurs, one has to compensate. I injured my pinky playing a few years ago, and had to shoot with 4 fingers. It took me a few games to adjust, but eventually, my shot got better. (and these are just pickup games – not pro-B — imagine what Kobe had to do when his pinky was busted).
    .
    He’ll figure it out, and as long as the Lakers win, we’ll be ok. Other teammates have to step up.
    .
    I recall earlier in the year that Kobe mentioned that it actually ‘hurt’ to slam dunk. It looks cool – but – if you slam your fingers on that metal rim the wrong way — OUCH. You can even get injured. There’s no point in Kobe slamming with this injury, so why would he need to ‘hop’?
    .
    Also, in mentioning Ron-Ron’s missing hops – first – remember Larry Bird? Zero % vertical. Larry couldn’t jump if his life depended on it. I don’t need to recount Larry’s success in the league. Second – We all know by now that Ron-Ron has plantar fasciitis. This is Ron-Ron’s ‘adjustment’ year. He’s learning the Triangle, and adjusting to a new type of game. That alone is a lot of work. When he heals up, and learns the Lakers way – trust me, he’ll be a new force to reckon with. But they don’t need him to be that now – Kobe seems to be able to play with all of his injuries.
    .

  • ilikebasketball

    he was mvp status this year just weeks ago. his finger is obviously bothering him. and the last game he took of the splint which bothered him. the splint will be on for the next game.
    he doesn’t matter if he doesn’t have the hops he has, imagine if his fingers weren’t broken and mangled?

    i almost think that if pau comes back kobe shold take time off and heal the finger as much as possible.

    but the article makes it seem like kobe over the hill. which is far from the truth.

  • Justin M.

    Kobe is human, I know its hard to believe. He will get fatigued and be hampered by a fractured finger. I think its time to give Kobe a well deserved rest and make Pau play through his “injury”

  • blackmamba24mvp

    dZZyPzxxU6VN

  • gugy

    I know has been hard.
    We will be OK.

    Have faith biatches!

  • iamthetie

    I have to agree with the idea of having Kobe sit out for a bit to heal his finger. The bench needs to log some significant minutes to get some consistency going again. Hell, I wanna rest Ron and his bad feet too. I really don’t care if we lose games now because you can’t say you’re happy with the way they’ve been winning them either. If his finger is still hurt come postseason and Ron is still hobbled, we’re in trouble.

  • Robert

    Kobe is the only one on the team who can veto doctor’s orders. So, he won’t personally take a rest, even if ordered by Vitti, Phil, or Buss. The only time he won’t play, is if there is a ‘serious’ fracture (like when he broke his foot years ago — you just can’t play with a broken foot – but he can play with a broken finger or two).
    .
    Kobe is def. not ‘over the hill’. He’s playing through injuries and illness. He should rest, but I’m sure he won’t.

  • Popcorn

    I think Kobe got hit hard in that game against Houston and re injured the finger. He doesn’t like to talk about it but from what I can see he’s wearing a different kind of splint probably encasing that finger very good. My best guess is he is trying to keep that finger from contact as much as he can, the only way to do it is to just get in the mix shooting from short distance. Lakers should try to run some pick and run plays for Kobe during games too.

    It is not easy but Kobe will figure out to pick his shooting spots while healing that finger. There’s not much he can do even by resting doesn’t means the finger automatically will heal. It will take at least 4 to 6 weeks just to heal the bone and even more time to heal the tendon.

  • EB14

    Guys, lay off. The article ain’t bad at all, as a fan we should inquiry about our players. Yeah he’s injured and yeah he’s playing badly. Undoubtedly I’m sure he’ll decide to stay and hopefully he figures out what works, he always does. But the time off would help our bench greatly, the reason they suck so much is because they hardly get any burn at all.

  • http://vinginor@aol.com onlyone laker fan in L.A.

    Kobe is one bad dude . Thats why he is the black Momba.
    Bynum you pussy step up.
    La mar stop smoking weed for a week you will player better.
    Fisher let someone else start.
    Sasha cash out you are not NBA material

  • Robert

    Now, in SA game, Kobe has back spasms. It’s not going well for Kobe. Injuries are a part of the game. He’s really having a rough year. Good thing the Lakers have the best record now, and a good start. This will be tough, because there are a lot of road games coming.

  • lanfree44s

    ahhhhhhh… I dont worry about KOBE’s game at all… he will be there… but ron ron!

  • Penelope

    The problem is that you guys haven´t Pau Gasol. Without Gasol, Lakers fail. With Gasol, Lakers win championships.

    So learn to treat Pau like one of your star players and not like garbage which is together with Kobe.

  • LAtimes

    funny thing is that he actually took a REST from playing this summer and the year he does he gets injury after injury. Kobes had to shoulder the load a lot and needs help. If i were phil i would sit him out until they play orlando next week. I’d rather he rest and we lose them him to play injured and more roughed up and ALSO lose. Let’s face it guys, even if he plays against dallas tmrw were getting KILLED, they remember wut we recently did and w/o pau and now possibly artest it doesnt look good. Im not worried about kobes hops or anything else this piece mentioned though. In the games he shot poorly he didnt have the splint, the splint come back on against the spurs and he goes 7/10; happy? Also, would u dunk with a broken finger? right. Although i do remember wen i was at the golden state game kobe WAS going for an awesome dunk only to get blocked by damn ronny. COme on dude, a week and a half ago im sure u thought he was the best player in bball (even rick kamla said kobe is better than ever) and he has a rough stretch and now u make it seem like he should retire. We stick with our team and praise kobe wen they win and he makes buzzer beaters but in the bad times/games u abandon the guy. Have hope, some fan u are.

    Now ron on the other hand; let’s just say i really miss ariza…