There are a lot of aspects of Kobe Bryant’s game which have made him one of the greatest shooting guards of all-time. Like him or not, you have to give Kobe his due for putting hours upon hours in the gym and devoting himself to the fundamentals of the game.
What I am going to show you in these next two video clips is something I feel has elevated Kobe’s game in the second half of his career – footwork.
As the Lakers took a 2-0 lead in their series with the Thunder, Kobe finished with 32 points in Game Two. Let’s take a closer look at four of his 32.
The first play came off a sidelines inbounds in the first quarter. Kobe started out in the ball side corner with Artest the in-bounder. After throwing it to the top of the key, Artest stepped onto the court and set a short down screen for Bryant to come off. As seen below:
Now, once Kobe receives the ball on a curl is when the real footwork begins. Kobe catches and comes to a one-two stop, left-foot first, then right-foot.
This allows Kobe to do a few things: first it keeps him under control. Thunder center Nenad Krstic is there helping off Bynum and waiting for Bryant in the center of the lane. Kobe undoubtedly knows that Krstic (having only blocked 47 shots this season) is far more likely to attempt to take a charge than he is to block his shot. By coming to a controlled stop, Kobe is avoiding making himself vulnerable by flying the through the lane off one leg. In the first quarter of a playoff game, Kobe’s jump-stop may have saved him from picking up an early foul.
Jumping off two-feet also gives Kobe great balance and power. Finally, it is giving Kobe the ability to be a decision maker. As you can see, all five Thunder defenders are in the lane, and Bryant in this position can be an effective shooter or passer.
Kobe finished this play with a one-handed floater over Krstic (Full video at end of post).
The second play we are going to talk about too came in the first quarter. This time it was out of a timeout and Kobe working out of the mid-post in a post up situation, something Bryant did about 22% of the time this year. Kobe apparently worked on his footwork and back to the basket game with Hakeem Olajuwon this offseason and it seems to have worked.
Notice as Bryant is posting up Thabo Sefolosha he has a wide and strong base, while using his off arm and hips to seal off Sefolosha. On the catch, Bryant uses a textbook inside pivot (which you will see in video) to create a little bit of operating space for himself. He then uses one hard attacking dribble which gets Sefolosha moving backwards, before pulling up again with perfect balance and knocks down a soft jumper.
Take a look at the video ending this post to see both of these plays live, as they happened. While these are just two plays, I hope it illustrates the fundamentals which Kobe plays the game with.
Justin DeFeo is a contributor to SirCharlesInCharge.com .
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