Los Angeles Lakers superstar guard Kobe Bryant is averaging 30.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.9 steals on 47.2% shooting (31.7% three-pointers) this season while playing with several hand injuries. Are the lingering finger issues starting to catch up with him?
With Pau Gasol out, Kobe has been in a bit of a mini-slump. Nothing shocking. No reason for alarm just yet. But worth paying attention to.
Right now in the third quarter of a Lakers-Bucks game, he’s shooting 2-of-17.
These are his shooting totals in recent games:
January 8 at Portland: 14-of-37.
January 6 at L.A. Clippers: 10-of-30.
January 5 vs Houston: 9-of-23.
January 3 vs Dallas: 6-of-12.
Obviously 6-of-12 is fine, but 12 field goal attempts suggests he really picked his spots.
Now, Gasol, clearly the best player on the team not named Bryant, has been out injured and hasn’t played since January 3.
So, is Kobe just tossing bricks because that’s just what happens sometimes?
Or because Gasol is out?
Or, are his hand injuries starting to catch up with him?
UPDATE: Jeff Eisenberg of the Press-Enterprise reports:
Bryant said after the game that his recent slump coincides with his decision to remove the hard metallic splint he’d been wearing to protect the fractured index finger on his shooting hand. He put the harder splint back on at halftime, sacrificing flexibility and touch to gain some extra protection.
“The finger felt pretty good so I tried to go without the splint,” Bryant said. “I have more range and movement in the finger without the splint, but I don’t have enough strength to shoot the ball. A lot of shots were going short.”
Keep an eye on Bryant these days, even more than usual.