Kobe Bryant is entering uncharted territory this season. It will be his 20th NBA season, the most for any guard in league history. He is currently tied with John Stockton and Jason Kidd with 19 seasons.
Bryant played in 35 games last season and, to put it mildly, it was a struggle. Before a third straight season-ending injury (shoulder), Bryant was wildly inconsistent.
HIGH FREQUENCY OF SHOTS:
Last season, Kobe Bryant shot the ball on 30.2% of the possessions in which he was on the court. The only player with a higher percentage was Russell Westbrook (32.0%).
Bryant’s effective field goal percentage was 41.1%. That was the lowest of his career and a rate 15.3% less efficient than his career average.
Bryant averaged 22.3 points per game on a 41.1% effective field goal percentage.
The last time a player averaged at least 20 points per game on an effective field goal percentage that low was in 1968-69.
This is not to say that the Lakers didn’t force the issue. Bryant was leaned on – a lot! His usage percentage was 9.7% higher than his career average. Only Russell Westbrook’s usage percentage was higher last season.
Bryant’s PER (Player Efficiency Rating) of 17.7, shows that his overall efficiency was 17.9% higher than the average NBA player.
He rebounded at a rate that was 9th among shooting guards last season. It was his highest rebounding rate in 12 years.
His assist percentage was at a rate 22.5% higher than his career average.
The bar that Kobe Bryant has set over the course of his career shows that last season was probably an outlier. A closer look reveals that the high frequency of shots he was asked to take led to a low efficiency. Bryant’s average shot distance of 15.7 feet was the furthest of his career, as he shot three-pointers at his highest rate in 11 seasons.
PER 17.7 75th
Real Plus/Minus -2.15 301st
Net Rating -12.2 436th
The overall rate metrics are not kind to Kobe’s 2014-15 season because of the high-volume and low efficiency of his shooting, but it’s all about perspective.
Peter Newmann is an analyst and writer who spent 10 years at ESPN, 8 as the NBA senior researcher working 24/7 on the league. He wrote game notes for crews, articles for ESPN.com, analysis for studio shows, and regularly assisted reporters and writers. Follow him on Twitter, and check out his Web site, www.peternewmann.com.