As part of a discussion in the comments to an open thread at Pickin’ Splinters, I offered up my quick opinion on the Lakers’ 4-game mini losing streak:
For the Lakers, I think their mini losing streak is tied to a decline in the balance of their offense. On the season Kobe has been averaging 21.1 shots per game. Over their four game losing streak he has been averaging 25.8 shots per game. He is a terrific individual scorer but he is not incredibly efficient and when he goes into that mode it makes defensive decisions way easier to make for the opponents. Over the past three season the Lakers are 135-48 for a winning percentage of 0.737. Over that same stretch there have been 45 games in which Kobe took more than 25 shots. The Lakers are 24-21 in those games for a winning percentage of 0.533. The Lakers are at the best when they spread the ball around, keeping Gasol and Odom involved. Things will certainly even out for them and their is no reason to think they won’t still be among the 3 or 4 best teams by the end of the season.
Out of curiousity, I used Basketball-Reference’s Play Index to find some context for the idea of player’s shooting taking a lot of shots but still losing. I started by looking for games in which a player took 25 or more shot attempts but their team lost the game. I expected to find Kobe at the top of the list, but was surprised to find him topped by someone I never expected. This same player also tops Kobe in the list of most games lost by their team whan a player scored 35 or more points.
Now obviously I am just looking at total losses, not win percentage. If you compare that to wins for each category you can come up with a win percentage. Kobe has a career 0.535 win percentage in games where he takes more than 25 shots. The win percentage jumps to 0.638 if we just go by games where he scored more than 35 points. The player who topped Kobe on both lists had a 0.635 win percentage in games where took more than 25 shots and a 0.728 win percentage in games where he scored more than 35 points.
For a more comprehensive and current analysis in this same area, check out Andres Alvarez’s post from today, Taking Control and Possibly Winning Games. Andres used Wins Produced to measure the effectiveness of 10 players last season in games where they had a Usage Rate above 33%. Spoiler alert: the two players who produced the most wins last season in high usage situations play on the same team this year, the Miami Heat.