Friday, June 6, 2008

Very Interesting

Here’s something that every critic of Dirk ought to read:

Career Regular Season Averages:
Kobe: 25.0 points, 45.3% FG, 5.3 rebounds, 4.6 assists
Dirk: 22.4 points, 47.1% FG, 8.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists

Career Playoff Averages:
Kobe: 24.2 points, 44.6% FG, 5.0 rebounds, 4.6 assists
Dirk: 25.3 points, 44.7% FG, 11.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists

Career Finals averages:
Kobe: 23.3 points, 41.2% FG, 5.4 rebounds, 4.9 assists
Dirk: 22.8 points, 39.0% FG, 10.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists

Now, obviously Kobe is better than Dirk, and with the game on the line Kobe is perhaps the most valuable player in the NBA, while Dirk usually chokes at the end. However, the stats reveal that Dirk is the one who steps up his game when the playoffs come around, while Kobe slips a little bit when compared with the regular season.

But what’s more than that, people such as my brother criticized the way Dirk played in the Finals a couple of years ago against Miami, because Dirk had a couple of bad games, while Dwyane Wade played phenomenally. But how about this: Kobe Bryant has been the the Finals four times now (before this season), and his Finals numbers are only slightly better than Dirk’s. If Dirk was mediocre for one series, Kobe has virtually duplicated those scoring and shooting numbers over the span of four series.

And for the record, in game one of this year’s Finals, Kobe scored 24 on 9/26 (34.6%), with 3 rebounds and 6 assists.

Anyway, all this points to the argument I’ve tried to make again and again: the only real reason people hate the Mavericks and Dirk is because they lost to Miami. People can talk about how they lost, but the fact is that Dirk’s numbers were just fine, and no one thinks particularly less of Kobe, even though Shaq was the MVP of all three championships Kobe won, and even though Kobe’s numbers in the Finals are only slightly better than the numbers Dirk put up when Dallas lost.

I feel the sting of the losses, and I think criticisms for that are completely fair. What I don’t like are smoke screen arguments, such as criticism of Dirk’s stats. With the game on the line, give me Kobe. But don’t tell me that the Mavericks lost the championship a couple of years ago because Dirk’s shooting percentage was kind of low.


Justin Burton said...

Okay, okay. I'm not a Dirk hater at all. I think he has a tremendous skill set that doesn't translate to run-of-the-mill isolation plays that invariably decide close games. I certainly resent the Mavs for being the team that lost to the Heat and gave Shaq bragging rights (though not as much as I resent Phoenix for not having the courtesy to show up for their butt-whipping in the WCF this year), but I don't hold it against Dirk personally.

I am a Kobe guy, though, and now I've got to give him a defense.

1. Those numbers aren't much to be ashamed of, which is kind of your point.

2. You're comparing the most important player on the Mavs to the second-most important player on the Lakers (with the exception of last night, of course). The Lakers played the Pacers, Sixers, and Nets in the Finals in each of their championships, and they won by abusing their opposition down low.

3. In the years the Lakers went through the Spurs to get to the Finals, Kobe was in charge of those series because Duncan played Shaq better than anyone else in those days. So, Shaq gets the Finals MVPs, but Kobe would've deserved a Reason They Made It to the Finals MVP, if there were such a thing.

4. Kobe's regular season averages have risen sharply since Shaq left, but he's played fewer playoff games as the head honcho during that time, so it isn't actually accurate to say that his numbers drop in the postseason. Most of those postseason stats were accrued as the second banana.

I don't have much of an excuse for last night. The offense ran out of rhythm most of the night, there were few slashes to the basket from Odom, and Kobe started missing shots when he should have passed in the fourth quarter (though, to be fair, when he hits his shots, everyone's nuts for him, and when he misses, he's selfish; could we at least be consistent?). Sometimes guys are a little off - even Kobe and even Dirk.

Now that I'm completely off-topic, three more things:

1. As lousy as the Lake Show played last night, that was a tight game.

2. Pierce didn't injure anything. He's a phony.

3. I had forgotten how intensely I disliked the C's.

jeremy said...

Another problem with the comparison is that the Miami series came when Dirk was playing at the highest level of his career. How old was Kobe during the finals? 23?

Celtics-Lakers should be interesting for judging a number of so-called superstars as they play under the klieg lights. The smart money is still on Kobe, but Pierce and Garnett may surprise.

scoots said...

Kobe is in his fifth Finals right now, so he played at several different ages. So let's look at 2003-04, when Kobe was 25, and in his 8th season, clearly after he was well established as one of the best in the league. His scoring was admittedly a little bit off that season (perhaps because he was accused of rape and was feuding with Shaq). Still, though, he had put on his fair share of brilliant performances.

Anyway, Kobe's playoff averages for the first 3 rounds of 03-04 were 25.1 points on approx. 42% FG, 5.3 rebounds, and 5.8 assists.

In the Finals, though: 22.6 points on 38.1% FG, 2.8 rebounds, and 4.4 assists. Shaq and Karl Malone both had a bad series too, and the Lakers lost to Detroit.

jeremy said...

Kobe was brilliant last night. Especially on the defensive end, where he held Pierce to 2-14. That last number is the one that doesn't figure into his stat line.