Kobe and Nene are selfish and could take a lesson from Melo

Over at the NBA Geek, Patrick Minton (@nbageek) recently made a great post — Mike Brown, Kobe and Lessons from the Movies. The highlights include:

  • Mike Brown saying Kobe is MVP is like sucking up to your boss. Office Space shows that Brown could excel if he would stop caring so much.
  • Kobe is like Sally in When Harry Met Sally. He’s a high-maintenance player that thinks he’s low maintenance.
  • Like every sports movie ever Kobe is that selfish player the coach turns around….except he’s never been turned around.

Patrick also makes the excellent point that this season Kobe is actually a slightly above average shooter — for a shooting guard — but he plays on the same team as two much better shooters.

  • Kobe Bryant – 24 FGA/G, 8 FTA/G, 52.5% True Shooting Percentage
  • Pau Gasol – 13.4 FGA/G, 3.9 FTA/G, 55.3% True Shooting Percentage
  • Andrew Bynum – 12.1 FGA/G 5.2 FTA/G, 59.2% True Shooting Percentage

Despite playing on a team with two bigs that shoot much better than he does, Kobe insists on taking almost as many shots as the two put together. In recent losses he’s shot the Lakers right out of the game. We’re not claiming Bryant should stop shooting. However, he’s taking the second most shots of his career. Can anyone claim giving 2-3 extra shots a game to his talented bigs would really hurt his team?

Maybe when Bron made his surprise move to South Beach Kobe knew his odds of hitting Jordan’s six titles or Magic’s three finals MVPs dropped. Maybe he decided to start just focusing on individual records that didn’t require a great team. Oddly Kobe could take a lesson from Carmelo Anthony and his time on the Nuggets.

Nene is selfish and Melo is a team player

Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony are popular names around here. We use them as examples of overrated scorers that shoot too much. In 2006 though something was a bit different.

In 2006 Melo was the primary scoring option on the Nuggets. Here’s how it broke down. (team rank in parentheses)

  • Carmelo Anthony – 19.7 FGA/G(1) 8.9 FTA/G(1) 56.3% True Shooting Percentage(1)

Melo took the most shots of any Nuggets but guess what? He was the best shooting option on the Nuggets! Being high usage when you are the best option is fine. Let’s make another Nugget comparison. In 2009 here’s how a finally healthy Nene looked. (Team rank in parentheses)

  • Nene – 9.2 FGA/G(5) 4.8 FTA/G(3) 64.5% True Shooting Percentage(1)

When Melo was the best scoring option on the Nuggets what did he do? He took a lot of shots. Now ironically in 2006 Melo was being a team player with this strategy. In 2009 Nene was one of the top five scoring options in the league and what did he do? He took the fifth most shots on his team! Nene was hurting his team.

Being a team player is all about what team you are on. Kobe being the primary option when he was younger and on a weaker team was fine. Now that Kobe is older and has great options to defer to he is being selfish. Perhaps, we can actually say Kobe isn’t the only selfish one and maybe Bynum is to blame as well. Of course, it’s not possible for Bynum or Nene to take more shots in a game unless another player decreases their shots per game. As Jason Kidd has said before “anybody in an NBA uniform” will take the shot if you give it to them. So a better way to put it is that players like Kobe are too selfish and players like Bynum and Nene aren’t selfish enough.


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