EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- It's early in the season -- very early. And that's a crucial caveat when discussing any NBA statistics at this point because the sample size is relatively small, meaning the numbers aren't always what they appear to be.
But one doesn't need much of a sample size to know that Kobe Bryant, who is leading the NBA in scoring (27.6), is shooting a ton of shots so far this season.
In fact, according to the wizards at ESPN Stats & info, through Thursday the Los Angeles Lakers star has taken 122 of the team's 324 field goal attempts this season, or 28.8 percent of the total -- the highest among all NBA players this season.
That's quite a bit more than New York Knicks swingman Carmelo Anthony (who has taken 23.8 percent of his team's total shots), Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (23.7), Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (23), Charlotte Hornets big man Al Jefferson (23) and Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James (22.7).
But Bryant is also shooting 40.2 percent from the field this season -- the lowest rate of the aforementioned players.
Here are a few other statistics:
If it held up throughout the season, Bryant's 25.5 field goal attempts per 36 minutes would mark a new career high, besting the previous high of 23.9 set in 2005-06. That 25.5 mark would also be a post-merger record, topping the previous high of George Gervin's 25.4 attempts per 36 minutes, which he did in 1981-82.
Bryant is also on pace for 2,001 field goal attempts this season (assuming he plays all 82 games), which would be the second most in his career (2,173 in 2005-06).
Now, Bryant is known to shoot a lot as it is. He's the NBA's active leader in field goal attempts (24,496), has led the league in field goal attempts six times and ranked in the top five in four other seasons. (He's leading the league in field goal attempts this season, as one might expect).
But there's already a growing question of whether he is shooting way too much.
On one side of the argument is the notion that he doesn't have any teammates who are adequate scorers themselves. In other words, he doesn't have anyone worth passing the ball to anyway.
On the other side is the notion that a more balanced offense -- rather than just having Bryant fire away at any given chance -- is better suited to keep the team competitive.
Lakers coach Byron Scott recognizes that his team needs to get to the point at which the scoring load isn't all on Bryant.
"I think there was a timeout last game where I pointed at Kobe and I said, 'I know how great this guy is, but you guys have got to play basketball,'" Scott said after the team's practice Thursday. "'You can't look at him every single time and try to give him the ball. You've got to take shots that are there. You can't pass up shots.'
"They can't be afraid to fail," Scott said of Bryant's teammates. "That's the biggest thing. You've just got to be able to go out there and play."
But Bryant also has to play a role in helping his teammates.
"I think he's done his share in trying to play that role and trying to get those guys an opportunity to play," Scott said, "but they've got to take advantage of it as well."
What does Bryant think he must to do get his teammates more involved?
"Well, I think use a lot of guys, [Carlos] Boozer and Jeremy Lin, to create opportunities," Bryant said, "which means running [the offense] through them a lot and moving me off the ball and getting picks off the ball, as opposed to me initiating the offense and then controlling everything from there.
"I think it has to be Jeremy and Boozer and those guys making plays, and we're setting picks off the ball. It keeps them involved."
Of course, if the Lakers were winning, perhaps none of this would be discussed at all. Instead, the team is off to its worst start since 1957, hence the closer examination of what's working and, more importantly, what isn't.