Bryant was right back at it on Wednesday, misfiring on 18 of 28 attempts in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 109-102 road loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.
With one of the worst Laker supporting casts of his career, Bryant is carrying an enormous amount of the load on offense. Through eight games he’s responsible for 196 of the team’s 676 total field goal attempts, or 29 percent.
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Considering Bryant is 36 years old and in his 19th season in the league, it’s no surprise that his field goal percentage is lower than ever before. For his career it’s .453. As a rookie it was just .417, and last year it dipped to .425.
After Wednesday’s 8-for-28 performance, Kobe’s 2014-15 field goal percentage stands at .388. It’s among the 25 worst in the league for players who’ve started at least five games.
When you combine the most attempts per game with one of the lowest percentages, the end result is going to be a whole lot of missed shots.
It’s still very early, but to this point in the year Bryant’s 24.5 FGA per game is the second highest average of his career. In 2005-06 Kobe took 27.2 shots per game, the 12th highest single-season average in league history for players not named Wilt Chamberlain.
Bryant attempted 2,173 field goals that year (the sixth highest total in NBA history in the non-Wilt category), missing a career-high 1,195 of them.
Kobe is currently averaging 15 missed shots per game this season. At that rate, if he plays in all 82 contests he’ll finish the year with 1,230, more than he’s ever had before. That total would also be the seventh-greatest of all-time (fourth outside of Chamberlain, who holds the record with 1,562 in 1961-62).
But, does anyone actually think Bryant will suit up 82 times this season? Kobe only played in 80 games in 2005-06, averaging a nearly identical number of misses (14.94) as he is now.
However, there is another metric for missed field goals in which 2014-15 Kobe Bryant is nearly certain to exceed anything he has done previously. Baxter Holmes of ESPN Los Angeles wrote:
"Bryant entered the game [on Tuesday] having missed a shot about once every 3 minutes, 25 seconds [for his career]. That’s the sixth-fastest rate since the merger. (Carmelo Anthony entered Tuesday missing about every 3 minutes, 24 seconds. Michael Jordan missed about every 3 minutes, 19 seconds. Allen Iverson missed about every 3 minutes, 17 seconds, same as Dominque Wilkins, and Freeman Williams topped them all by missing a shot about every 2 minutes, 57 seconds.)"
Kobe missed his 15 shots per game while playing 41 minutes a night back in 2005-06. In that season he missed once every two minutes, 44.5 seconds. This year Bryant is missing 15 shots in just 35 minutes per game on average–once every two minutes, 20 seconds.
The league’s new all-time leader for missed field goals appears headed towards his most prolific season yet in that category.