Chillbongo wrote:Regardless, from a strictly numbers vantage, LeBron is only averaging 1.2 more assists, and 1.5 more rebounds than Kobe. I assure you that if Kobe was on this current Heat team, his assist numbers go up. Does that make him a better ball handler, defender, and more efficient scorer than LeBron? Of course not.
But think about this....as EFFICIENT as he is would LeBron be shooting 57% without his 40% 3PT shooters spacing the floor? Without D-Wade to take the scoring pressure off? Without the bangers down low getting rebounds? Without the all-around defensive effort that creates transition opportunities for Miami?
I think 1.2 assists per game over the course of a season, is more substantial than we might think. For instance, this season Kobe tied his season best for assists with 6. If he averaged just 1.2 assists less this year, that would make it the 5th lowest in his career not counting his first 2 seasons off the bench. It seems like a smaller number but it's the difference between the 5th worst and the absolute best. Meanwhile, Lebron had his second best season in assists with 7.3. If you drop that by 'just' 1.2 assists, then you're looking at his 3rd worst ever (one of which was his rookie season). So that difference is the difference between 2nd best and 3rd worst for Lebron. If you look at it a different way ... every time Kobe goes out there and plays, whatever assist total he produces, no matter how high, Lebron always produces one more assist than Kobe. And then, every 5 games, he produces 2 more assists than Kobe. I know that's not how it really pans out, but I think it makes it easier to visualize. Also, what 1.2 assists doesn't tell you, is how many possessions were spent trying to get a teammate that made basket since not all passes lead to a made basket and it also doesn't tell you how many incremental turnovers are produced trying to get that basket. In Kobe's case, that could be substantial because for every 5 assists he produces, 3 possessions were also lost in the process to turnovers. (In LBJ's case that's 2 lost possessions for every 5 assists). Again, you can view that as every time Kobe gets 5 assists, Lebron gets 6 and he gets another free possession to score or dish that Kobe doesn't. So the value in playmaking comes not only in the additional assists, but also, in limiting the turnovers that often come with trying to make plays for others.
I personally do not believe Kobe's assist numbers would go up. And here's why. Prior to this season with the Heat, Lebron was averaging 6.9 assists per game for his career. They reloaded, got all these shooters which you're using as your basis for your argument here, and Lebron's assist number for the season went up 5%. And that's for a player we both admit is a better and more naturally gifted playmaker. So why should I think that a player who is more of a scorer than playmaker, would see even an equal increase, let alone greater. I'd expect Kobe's assists to be slightly above his career mark but definitely lower than his career high. As for why, that's mainly because they have another playmaker to share the duties with in Wade (which explains Kobe's higher usage rate over LBJ) and so that's fewer opportunities for Kobe to get those assists. In other words, Kobe wouldn't (and shouldn't) be handling the ball nearly as often with Dwayne Wade by his side, as he has had to with our team to get those 6.0 assists.
If having 40% 3pt shooters could cause a player to shoot north of 57% from the field, then why isn't that happening in Golden State? Harrison Barnes is shooting like 45%, why isn't he at 57% also? He's playing with arguably the BEST 3pt shooter and maybe even another top 5 three point shooter over there. Look, playing with those guys is going to help Lebron, there is no doubt, but how much do you think it is helping? You can't think Lebron would otherwise shoot 43% or something right? If he's shooting 57% with those guys, maybe he'd shoot 55% without them. I mean, Kobe had the most dominant player in the history of the game, Shaq, drawing double teams all day long and he has never shot above 47%. Ever. Oh, and back then, he actually shot fewer 3pters than Lebron did this season (I mention that because less 3pt shots means even higher FG%). So would removing Shaq have hurt Kobe's FG%? Definitely. Would it change from 47% to 40%? I don't think so. Maybe down to 45% over the course of a season. And if you look at his post Shaq years, eyeballing it, he was right back to 45%-46% even playing with a bunch of clowns. Plus, I think you're looking at it backwards. You make it seem like defenses are completely smothering Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis leaving LBJ wide open. That's not what happens. What happens is the other way around. Defenses are committed to stopping LBJ, which leaves open a Ray Allen or Rashard Lewis. So yes, to your point, many of the things you brought up help his FG% but it's not a night and day type difference. 65% of his shots are still jump shots. 20% of his shots are still 3 pointers. He's on his 7th consecutive season of improving shooting percentage from the field. The guy is just freakishly good and he continues to get better.