Rodgers Report: Running on Empty

Rodgers Report: Running on Empty

Postby trodgers on Sun Jan 27, 2008 8:06 pm

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Running on Empty: How Much Fuel Remains in Kobe's Tank?
Travis Rodgers

Fuel or Fumes?
Kobe Bryant has logged 29947 minutes of regular season play during his career. That is 104th most in NBA history. Add in 5084 playoff minutes. Add in 265 all-star game minutes. That gives Kobe 35296 minutes (excluding preseason) in his professional career. That includes 966 career games (again, excluding preseason). That is wear and tear.

Although Phil Jackson has tried to keep him fresh by playing him roughly three fewer minutes per game this season than last, Kobe's minutes have crept into the danger zone since Andrew Bynum's injury. Kobe has responded admirably to the demands of carrying a good deal of dead weight (Luke Walton, Lamar Odom have been atrocious since Bynum's injury; Trevor Ariza is gone; Vlad Radmanovic, Sasha Vujacic, and Ronny Turiaf have struggled with injuries; Kwame Brown has struggled with conditioning; DJ Mbenga has struggled to learn the triangle on the fly), but fans around the league must be wondering how long Kobe can continue at this pace.

Since Bynum was injured on January 13th against Memphis, Kobe has logged 42, 39, 39, 45, 45, and 43 minutes. That is an average of 42.1 minutes per game, which is simply too much to ask of someone who plays as physically as Kobe, who is asked to be the primary scorer, primary ball handler, primary defender, do all this on a team that is competing for elite status, and who has as much wear and tear as Kobe has.

Fuel
42 minutes per game. 32.8 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, and all on 140 shots (69 connections, for a 49.3 FG%). These numbers are staggering in all facets. That includes the amount of time Kobe spends on the court. It is true that such a load is nothing new for Bryant who has averaged 40 or more minutes per game in four of the last five seasons. He has missed only seven of his last 205 games, including two (I believe) the result of suspensions, not his inability to play. The all-star break comes in just three weeks' time and Kobe will have time to rest during those festivities. That is all true, but one has to wonder if the three weeks will be too much. And if it is not, what of the month afterward during which the Lakers will still be without starting Center Andrew Bynum and arguably their best defender Trevor Ariza?

Fumes
No one outside the AP could pretend that Kobe's effort since Bynum's injury have been less than electrifying. Yet with a 2-4 record over those six games, including four losses in the last five games, the emotional wear and tear on Kobe becomes every bit as important as the physical. Given that the Lakers took over the top spot in the West on the day Bynum was injured, spirits were undoubtedly high. That kind of momentum can alleviate the stress that comes with day to day physical pounding. While still 27-15, the Lakers have fallen to the sixth seed in the West. They are now just three games away from being out of playoff seeding in a very competitive Western Conference. That amount of mental strain takes its toll on even the greatest.

Being Kobe
This is just more of the same for Kobe Bryant. His fans can explain away 40 field goal attempts in a game, not passing to an open teammate to take a contested jumper, coasting on defense. His critics honestly believe that he does not deserve an MVP award despite being the uncontested best player in the NBA for years now. They believe he is over the hill, selfish, a complainer, gets foul calls handed to him like no one except Dwyane Wade.

If Kobe has another good player on his team, he is only part of the success of the team. If Kobe has to shoulder the burden on his own, he is not a winner. Yet night after night Kobe puts his body on the line, his ego on the line, and when he leaves the court, he leaves nothing unexpressed. His actions speak louder than any explanation he could offer for the Lakers' 98-95 loss at the hands of LeBron James's Cavaliers, for instance. But if you do not believe that losses like this, where it is accepted as a fact that LeBron "outplayed" Kobe (Kobe rarely covered James), where Kobe failed to hit the game winner (he did not even have the ball in his hands for a shot until 0.3 seconds remained), where the Cavaliers proved themselves the better team, will take its toll, there is little to be said. Kobe cannot win even when he does (LA outscored Cleveland 89-84 while Kobe was on the court; during the 5 minutes he was off, Cleveland outscored LA 14-6). Even the most ardent fan has to be concerned that his psychic energy will fail at some point. When it does, his physical wellbeing could follow.
Last edited by trodgers on Sun Jan 27, 2008 8:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Daloyalfan18 on Sun Jan 27, 2008 8:34 pm

Excellent report Trodgers. I didn't realize Kobe is averaging 32 8 and 6 on 49% over the last few games. :man4: The last part made me feel bad for him, at the rate he is playing I am very scared he may get a serious injury. Hopefully the extra rest earlier this season pays off now.
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Postby nicehair911 on Sun Jan 27, 2008 8:38 pm

Before I read the article I'll say this:

If you say Kobe doesn't have much longer you'll get bad reviews

If you say he'll be good for a while you'll get good reviews
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Postby kray28 on Sun Jan 27, 2008 8:39 pm

29947 + 5084 + 265 = 35296
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Postby AVH on Sun Jan 27, 2008 8:43 pm

Travis Rodgers,

Your blog/post put tears to my eyes.

Im a Kobe zealot and im proud of it. One thing is amazing though. Kobe only needs one or two competent players on his team to succeed in a way that only the ultimate truly have.

To Think wiht JUST simple little Andrew Bynum. Not even an allstar, Kobe had the lakers the best record in the West.

Imagine a real TEAM.

Imagine Kobe with Kareem, Worthy, Byron Scott, Michael Cooper, AC Green, Mychael Thompson.

Just give him 2 competent players who play each game like its their last and have the talent to do so and I'll show you a champion unlike any other in the HISTORY of this game my friend.

In the HISTORY of this game!!!!
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Postby kray28 on Sun Jan 27, 2008 8:44 pm

To tackle the main thesis of your article:

If it weren't for Drew, I could see it. But I think Drew has convinced Kobe that the rough patch is worth weathering and waiting out.

There'll be about a month left in the season when we get the critical players back (Drew and Trevor)....and I think Kobe likes their chances, regardless of seeding.
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Postby trodgers on Sun Jan 27, 2008 8:55 pm

kray28 wrote:29947 + 5084 + 265 = 35296

Thanks, gov. Not sure how I botched that.
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Postby BDG on Sun Jan 27, 2008 9:23 pm

Excellent writeup trodgers.

kray28 wrote:To tackle the main thesis of your article:

If it weren't for Drew, I could see it. But I think Drew has convinced Kobe that the rough patch is worth weathering and waiting out.
The bolded is really what it comes down to. This team has a completely different look to it when they're fully healthy.

Bynum and Ariza are two of our best defensive players at two crucial positions in terms of our particular team needs.

I will be optimistic about our chances if they get back healthy and we can start clicking again.

It's a shame that they both went down before these past few games (and the 9 game road trip) because it really would have shown where we stand as a team. I know Phil Jackson agrees with me there.
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Postby blakeruns on Mon Jan 28, 2008 12:12 am

great write up trav :bow:
keepin it fresh eight days a week
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Postby Weezy on Mon Jan 28, 2008 2:21 am

Great read Trodgers, great read. The part about him not being able to win is so true, Kobe either does too much or not enough. I think even if we win a championship it'll be 'because of Bynum' and Kobe will never get full credit for carrying this team for years.
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Postby 2Pacalypse on Mon Jan 28, 2008 2:30 am

Travis J. Rodgers is back! :jam2:

Great read.... like I told you before, you should definitely start blogging more. :bow:
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Postby trodgers on Fri Feb 01, 2008 5:12 am

Just wanted to say that the ridiculous onus continues to be placed on Kobe.

In his last two games, he has played nearly 91 minutes.

Without Bynum, in 8 games, Kobe's numbers:
43 MPG
32.5 PTS
6.1 AST
8.3 REB
1.0 STL
0.5 BLK
11.4-23.3 FG (48.9%)
1.5-4.3 3PT (35.3%)
8.3-10.9 FT (75.7%)
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