How Much Blame Does Kobe Bryant Deserve for Los Angeles Lakers’ Pathetic Start?

It's easy to pin this on Kobe Bryant.

Watching this Los Angeles Lakers team—its league-worst defense, its players standing around dejectedly on offense watching a 36-year-old hijack possessions with comically low-percentage shots—it's tempting to single out Kobe, to blame the star going supernova and black hole all at once.

The part of you that viscerally understands what good basketball is supposed to look like, the part that catches a case of the warm fuzzies watching the San Antonio Spurs hum around in harmony, wants to look away. But it's easier to point an accusing finger at Bryant and shout, "You're the problem!"

There's a good reason for that: To a large extent, he is the problem.

Los Angeles plays better without him on the court—demonstrably so.

According to, the Lakers post a net rating of minus-13.2 with Kobe in the lineup and a plus-7.1 with him on the bench. Granted, anyone logging huge minutes for a team this bad is bound to have some ugly plus/minus figures. But the fact remains that the Lakers play their absolute best without Bryant slacking on defense and slinging on offense.

Bryant's off-court net rating is the highest of any Lakers player.

It's not hard to understand why. With Kobe gunning at a sub-40 percent clip, the Lakers are easy to guard. There's a ceiling on how effective their offense can be, and it's low.

Quantitatively, Kobe is bad for the Lakers, but he might be even worse when we factor in his harder-to-measure impact.

It's difficult to gauge how much his individualistic, "I got this; get out of the way" approach (note: language in video may be NSFW) to a team sport hurts. We can't know how damaging his poor defensive example is to the rest of his teammates, all of whom look up to him even as they may grow frustrated with the way he marginalizes them.
Article Source: Bleacher Report - Los Angeles Lakers