How Steve Nash Will Allow Kobe Bryant to Play His Natural Game

It's hard to remember a time when Kobe Bryant wasn't the No. 1 option on the Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe was second to Shaq for the first two titles the Lakers won in 2000 and 2001, and 2002 was a pretty interesting 50-50 split between the two. After that, it was Kobe at the top of the team. 

Kobe will continue to be the top option for the Lakers until he's ready and willing to hand over the keys to the team, but with the addition of Dwight Howard and especially Steve Nash, Kobe is going to be able to relax a bit and slide into a more natural position.

For as long as I can remember, which comes to 11 of the past 13 years, Kobe has led the Lakers in both assists and usage percentage, meaning he was the No. 1 option in more than one way. Not only did the Lakers expect Kobe to lead the team in scoring, but he was also the main distributor in the offense.

Some of Kobe's assist numbers can be chalked up to the triangle offense, which often led to Bryant getting more touches and sort of being the neck of the funnel that was the Lakers' offense under Phil Jackson.

Things changed a bit with Ramon Sessions taking over the point guard duties halfway through last season, but Sessions is an average point guard at best. He ended up taking over the lead in assists for L.A. and allowed Kobe to slip into a different style of play.

Admittedly, Bryant never really adapted well to playing off the ball more often (there were moments where he was effective), but there were also some points where the Lakers' offense fell into a lull where they couldn't do anything but settle for a jumper. A bit of that can be blamed on the lack of creativity in the offense, while some is probably due to the Lakers trying to get used to playing through the point more often than they had in the first two-thirds of the season.

One thing that can be said for Kobe playing with a point guard is that his three-point percentage actually increase...

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