p>17 years into his NBA career, having logged just a hair under 45,000 regular season minutes and 8,641 more in the playoffs, having suited up for 1,448 games in all and played to the very last day of the year seven times, when it comes to shooting and scoring Kobe Bryant is playing.
His 46.8 percent mark from the floor is basically a wash with his career high (46.9). Bryant”s true shooting percentage (a measurement reflecting 2″s, 3″s, and free throws) and effective field goal percentage (one adjusting for the increased value of 3-pointers) are both as high as he”s posted, at 57.2 and 51.1 percent, respectively.
There are reasons, ranging from general awesomeness to changes in diet to work ethic and will power, but as Grantland”s Kirk Goldsberry notes in great feature (it went up last week, but is still worth posting now — read the whole thing here), the big leap for Kobe can be attributed to shot location, and the elimination of some of his less-efficient areas, particularly from mid-range:
For years Bryant’s shot chart wasn’t very interesting. There wasn’t much to glean from it other than Kobe shoots a lot from everywhere, and he shoots pretty much at league average. His skill was the ability to get a decent shot anytime he wanted. Bryant used to be the least finicky shooter in the league, but this is no longer the case. Contemporary Bryant’s charts feature clear clusters of activity and newfound asymmetry. Whereas in past seasons his shots have been equally distributed on both sides, Kobe is more of a right-side player this season. His favorite 3-point shot is clearly that right wing shot, and his favorite midrange shot is obviously near the right elbow.
Moreover, Goldsberry illustrates (literally — the pictures are great) how Kobe has not only made his way to the rim more frequently, but is converting at a higher rate once he gets there.
While I haven”t asked him directly, I suspect none of this is an accident. Bryant is an information fiend, and I find it hard to believe doesn”t know what he”s shooting from different spots on the floor and wouldn”t work to eliminate those areas dragging down his game.