Many times this season, and in seasons past we have seen and accused Kobe of sagging off his man on the defensive end of the floor , disrespecting him , daring him to shoot or just plain being lazy to defend ,and thus, said player (usually a non star player) goes off for 20+ points on us, while his normal output per game is less than half of that.
It is extremely frustrating to watch at times and makes one wonder, how in the world a defender like Kobe, who preaches and takes pride in defense, lets his man do this to him. Kobe can, and should hold his non star opponent to less than his average points per game, so why the lazy attitude?
Many point out the fact, which I partially agree with, that Kobe is just saving his legs for the offensive side of the ball. Others say that Kobe is not the same defender he once was, or that he can’t keep up, stamina and speed wise, with the young players of today’s game. Every single one of these arguments has merit, but more than anything I believe that Kobe’s ‘’lazy’’ defense is part of the Lakers defensive scheme. It’s a defensive strategy and it’s brilliant. Hear me out on this one… it’s going to be long.
I will use as example the last game the Lakers played against the Wolves but I am sure there are plenty of other opponents this strategy is implemented.
Kobe, in that game was assigned to guard Wes Johnson and we all saw the same old thing. Kobe sagging, Johnson scoring..so where does the ‘’strategy’’ thing comes in.
Wes(or almost every opponent) Kobe is guarding , is the fifth scoring option on the Wolves starting unit with the lowest fg% of them all, so daring him to shoot (not drive) is not the worst thing to do in the first place. If he misses, mission accomplished, but what if he starts heating up? Do you still sag off him and dare him to shoot? My answer is yes.
Wes is accustomed to use only so many possessions of their offense, and he shoots the ball 8.7 times a contest making 3.6 of them which is not very good to say the least. In the game against us he shot 18 times. For a player not used to do that in a game situation it is, a) Very taxing on your body and especially on your elbow, thus making your shooting motion less than optimal later in the game(especially if you have to guard Kobe yourself on D) and b) It makes you start thinking and doubting. If you are missing it is rather obvious what will you be thinking about. If you are hitting and you have say, 20 points in the game instead of your 9ppg average, you may( and I realize that this maybe a stretch) start thinking that you have already more than doubled your production so there is only so much you can do to help your team win. Or the fact that you are hitting can make you over confident and encourage you to play ‘’hero-ball’’ and shoot your team out of the game.
The psychological factor, to make a player think, whether hitting or missing is pure speculation on my part, it cannot be measured or seen but from my own experience in sports I do believe it exists and I do believe it can be detrimental to a teams success.
But what about the opponents coach. I only talked about our strategy and what we are doing to force x player to take a large amount of shots believing it will help us win. Surely I am not the only one who thought about this so how does a coach counter this strategy?
Well… he doesn’t.
If you think about it there really isn’t much you can do. I haven’t seen or heard any coach to tell his player not to shoot if he is open. Imagine what that would do to a players confidence. ‘’Hit or miss shoot the ball if you’re open’’ is what we constantly hear coaches preach, so that is what we (Lakers) wanted in the first place isn’t it?
If the player misses open shots what can the opposing coach do other than replace him? If he hits and becomes (we’ve seen this many times) his teams leading scorer during the game he has to keep shooting right? But wouldn’t this make the 5th scoring option on that team the 1st? And wouldn’t that team’s offense become a one man show while riding the hot hand? How often does this kind of strategy wins games? We know that if you have Kobe on your team that percentage is maybe 50%.
In post game interviews after a game is lost due to our good defense, opposing coaches often say that the Lakers took away some of their offensive options, or ‘’took us out of our game plan’’ or something similar. Making the 5th scoring option the 1st is exactly that , it’s a strategy implemented by the Lakers in the regular season with pretty good results. If that x player stays hot during the game and wins the game for them , then so be it.
This also not only saves Kobe’s legs for the long run, but it does so for everybody else. The rest of our guys on the floor don’t have to run ,bang or fight through screens if their man is ball watching.
Playing the percentages that a non-star player will go off and might cost you a game or two is ok by me. It certainly has nothing to do with Kobe’s willingness or ability to defend, or with any sense of pride on his part that someone is ‘’torching’’ him.
It’s simply a strategy. We ‘ve seen other teams trying to do that to us by leaving Ron open to double on Kobe, Pau or Drew and it sometimes pays off. We are one of the very few teams in the league that have the personnel and the offense to counter that strategy with success. Besides how many time did we see Kobe playing ‘’lazy’’ defense (daring them to shoot) on Manu , Allen, Wade or Lebron ?
Again this is regular season defensive strategy mostly and it is paying off.
Other than on Rondo , which is only one among other reasons why he does that, I do not for one second believe that Kobe is being lazy on D.
This contradicts everything I know and seen of him during his career.
Of the many things and words I could say to describe Kobe , the word lazy, is not in that vocabulary.