Trae Young is working with Kobe Bryant on his mid-range game

AP
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The NBA offseason only has 3 storylines. They are as such:

  • Player X has gained a bunch of muscle.
  • Guard Y has worked out with Kobe Bryant.
  • Big Man Z has worked out with Hakeem Olajuwon.

That’s basically it. Sometimes these stories hit two of these pillars at the same time. This, my friends, is one of those stories.

According to The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner, Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young is heading into his sophomore season a bit heavier and with some dictation on how to play the game by the former Los Angeles Lakers guard.

Of course, #MuscleWatch nothing new. Just about every player adds a bunch of weight in the offseason because they are superstar athletes and they are more prone to adding muscle. They have both the time and the top notch training and nutrition to go alongside it.

So Young is getting bigger. That’s good, because he’s small and on defense he’s going to need to find a way to not get absolutely torched.

But about that Kobe talk…

Now that Bryant is retired, he has popped up as one of the players willing to work with young disciples. That didn’t work out great last year for Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum, whose mind appeared to be poisoned by Kobe after working out with him in the summer of 2018. Remember, Tatum said that Kobe told him to, “Shoot every time.”

In 2018-19, Tatum shot an additional four percent of his jumpers as mid-range shots, seeing his FG% slightly decline, per Basketball-Reference.com.

Tatum also, somehow, became less aggressive at the rim as his free-throw rate dropped and his 3-point shooting caved.

Should we be worried about the 3-point shooting Young moving in that same direction?

Via The Athletic:

As with Roland, Young’s maturation is the noticeable change Bazzell has seen, plus Bazzell said Young has gained 12 to 16 pounds this offseason. Just based on the eye test, Young’s muscle mass certainly has improved from where he was at the end of the season.

The plan is for Young, after he’s finished with his Team USA training camp obligations at the start of August, to travel to Newport Beach, Calif., before he has to report back to Atlanta on Aug. 19 and work on his midrange game with Kobe Bryant. Last summer, Bryant worked with Boston’s Jayson Tatum before the start of his sophomore season. Twenty-two percent of Tatum’s shot attempts this past season were considered long 2-point shots, ranking him in the 95th percentile.

Atlanta ranked 28th in midrange attempts because Lloyd Pierce’s offensive philosophy in Year 1 focused on getting as many 3-pointers up and as many shots at the rim. It’s not that Pierce is harshly against midrange jumpers, but he prefers either 3s or shots at the rim.

This is, and I cannot stress this enough, one of the funniest 1-2 punches any two paragraphs of NBA writing has packed this summer.

Kobe, who essentially purchased himself an Oscar last year with a self-congratulating animated short bolstered by former Disney bigwigs, is on a post-career re-writing tear. He’s tried to rebrand himself as a “storyteller” which is how Millennial social media marketers describe themselves when Silicon Valley brandspeak infiltrates their everyday lives.

Bryant is doing a good enough job of this, by the way, right in the vein of his hero Michael Jordan. MJ didn’t need his legacy re-written, naturally. But Kobe wants to keep his shoe brand going until he’s part owner of the Seattle SuperSonics in 12 years, just like the old man, so here we are.

The comedy comes from the fact that everyone seems to be lamenting the idea of Bryant working with their favorite young stars. This is a guy whose Stans flood Twitter (and will undoubtedly angrily comment below until their finger bursae are bruised) praising and over-inflating his position among other NBA hall of famers. These diametrically opposed views — one side seeing him as the best SG ever, the other regarding Bryant as basketball plutonium — will never not be funny.

Love Kobe or hate him, a clear view of his basketball acumen alone and short but obvious track record suggests that Young working with him this offseason might not be the first thing the Hawks would like him to do.

If Young starts shooting 30-dribble contested 17-footers in October, you know who to look toward.