Bryant missing shots at historic rate

Getty Images/ Andrew D. Bernstein

Kobe Bryant is missing an average of more than 14 shots a game this season.Maybe Kobe Bryant is trying to make up for all of the shots he didn’t take while injured last season. Or maybe he’s trying to take enough shots to justify his $23.5 million salary. Whatever the reason, Bryant is shooting – and missing -- at a historically high rate.

It’s early in the season, of course, so the small-sample-size caveat is in effect. But through five games, Bryant’s 25.5 shots per 36 minutes would rank third in NBA history. The only player to average more shots per 36 minutes was Wilt Chamberlain, in 1961-62 (29.3) and 1962-63 (26.2).

But whereas Chamberlain shot better than 50 percent from the field in his seasons of greatest usage, Bryant is shooting 40.2 percent.

On Tuesday night, Bryant attempted 37 field goals (and missed 23). His usage rate exceeded 40 percent for the third time in five games this season. His season-long usage rate of 38.6 percent rivals his career high of 38.7 in 2005-06, when he averaged 35.4 points.

And the Lakers are 0-5.

Heading into Sunday’s game against the Hornets, Bryant is 25 missed shots from tying the NBA mark for most misses in a career. Former Celtics great John Havlicek missed 13,417 shots in 1,270 games (10.6 misses a game). Bryant has missed 13,369 in 1,250 games (10.7 per game). This season, Bryant is missing an average of 14.6 shots a game. At this pace, the record will be his Nov. 11 at Memphis.