What We’re Reading: Kobe Returns

From Flickr via NSNewsflash

From Flickr via NSNewsflash

We at Bulls by the Horns realize that you’re busy and don’t have the time to go searching through website after website for some interesting, NBA related reads. So, from time to time, we’ll gather the articles we’ve found interesting and put them together for you in one place.

There are two things you should read every Tuesday: this column and Zach Lowe’s Ten Things I Like and Don’t Like.  Each week, Lowe will take an in-depth look at a topic and then talk about 10 different smaller topics.  This week, Lowe broke down how the Nuggets are attempting to rebuild their roster while remaining a playoff contender.  The smaller topics in the end typically cover some trivial things Lowe enjoys, but also some great looks at the X’s and O’s and this week is no different with an interesting look at a new set from the Warriors.

With that declaration out of the way, we’ll move on to the biggest stories of the weekend.  There was no bigger story this weekend than the return of Kobe Bryant and everyone wrote a story about it.  Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo! Sports wrote about Bryant’s return and the self-doubt Bryant had regarding the comeback.  The piece serves as a sappy reminder of the Bryant many have come to love and is chalked full of hyperbolic Bryant quotes.  While Wojnarowski focused on the individual, Ken Berger took a look at how Bryant could help out the Lakers as a team and help push the team towards the playoffs.  This was another story that focused on how Bryant may be able to prove some of the pundits wrong, but focused on the team’s perspective.

Andrew Sharp at Grantland talked about Bryant’s return and called him the NBA’s crazy uncle.  His greatest point might have been that we all knew that Bryant likely shouldn’t even be on the court, yet we all watched because we thought Bryant would somehow magically put on a show.  Matt Moore agreed with this point in saying that no matter what Bryant might look like in his return, basketball fans win because Bryant draws the eyes of every basketball fan on Earth.  Finally, Bill Reiter argued that Bryant’s return will be about one thing and one thing only: catching Kareem Abdul-Jabaar’s scoring record.  Reiter explains that the record will not be just Kobe’s quest, but rather the quest of the Lakers.  He believes that catching the scoring record will be what drives the team in the coming years, not competing for championships.

The other story over the weekend was the Sacramento Kings acquiring Rudy Gay from the Toronto Raptors.  Tom Ziller wrote about the trade and took an interesting look at Rudy Gay’s usage rates throughout his career.  Ziller explained that though Gay has only been an efficient player when his usage rate is 25% or lower, he also hasn’t been the same player since his shoulder injury in early 2011.  Thus, he is unsure if Gay will actually improve upon joining the Kings.

Another interesting perspective on the trade came from Tim Bontemps at the New York Post as he took a look at the perceived hatred the analytics community has for Rudy Gay.  Gay has been demonized over the years by the analytics community and Bontemps examined whether or not that is actually true.  Some players, including Gay, David Lee, and Monta Ellis, have been made out to be these awful basketball players just because they are good exemplars for specific stats and this is what Bontemps takes a look at in his piece.

Speaking of advanced analytics, Nate Duncan at HoopsWorld examined Stephen Curry’s struggles in the clutch.  Though Curry has hit some big shots and gone on scoring barrages in the last few seasons, most of that scoring has come before the end of games when defenses aren’t trying quite as hard.  When defenses become more focused at the end of games, Curry has struggled and Duncan does a great job looking at the stats as well as using game film to prove his point.

Another player that has had some struggles this season is Victor Oladipo.  Though Oladipo has struggled at point guard, Tyler Lashbrook explained that Magic fans should have patience with his progress because it will only make him better in the long run at his natural position of shooting guard.  He then goes on to show that Oladipo has been great as a shooting guard and also talks about one of the league’s most underrated players, Aaron Afflalo.

On the other hand, one player that has gotten a lot of attention this season is Paul George and Kevin Durant has had enough of that.  On Sunday, Durant put on a show as the Thunder reminded everyone that they are still one of the best teams in the league while dismantling the Pacers 118-94.  During the post-game interviews, a few Thunder players said that Durant was excited about the opportunity to quiet George’s growing legion of fans and that is exactly what he did.

The Pacers will face another tough test tonight as they play another one of the league’s top teams, the Miami Heat.  The Heat should have no trouble bringing their best effort tonight against the Heat, but it is something they’ve struggled with the rest of the season.  James Herbert examined how the Heat have attempted to play games within games to stay focused.  They will a close look at the stat sheet after games in an attempt to figure out if they are doing the things they need to be doing as a team both defensively and offensively.

That’s all for today.  Remember…reading is FUNdamental.

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