Will Ray Allen be Kobe's Waterloo?
Not since Napoleon escaped from Elba and made it back to Paris have we seen a comeback as astonishing as Kobe Bryant's. After the incident in Eagle he had fallen to the depths of public hell yet he has slowly and steadily scratched and clawed his way back to the pinnacle. Its been inspiring. Now he is just one step away from his recoronation as the New Michael Jordan.
But standing in his way might be his own personal Duke of Wellington... Sir Walter Ray Allen.
In 16 meetings since the Bucks errantly traded Allen to the Sonics, Sugar Ray has completely dominated Kobe Bean in their one-on-one matchups. In fact, it hasn't even been close. By Win Contribution standards (where +0.000 equals the WC that would be expected from the average player), Kobe has had only 5 "good" games. Ray Allen, by contrast, has had 13. Allen's average Win Contribution to his team has been an incredible +0.938. Kobe's has been a slightly subpar -0.152. (Note: For the uninitiated, Win Contribution is based on how much the player's Win Score is above the average that would be expected from the player's position and is therefore akin to baseball's "Replacement Value over the Average Player" with the average player in this case being represented by +0.000. Here's a fuller explanation if you care.)
Granted, in many of those matchups, Kobe has scored a great deal of points. But its how the points are scored that matters, and in that area Kobe has been quite inefficient. Think about it this way. In most games, every team will score 70+ points. The question is how many possessions it takes them to score those points. And, when facing Ray Allen, Kobe has needed far too many possessions to get his points, and that effectively hurts (not helps) his team's win.
Will the trend continue? Its hard to see why it won't. 16 games is not a fluke.
Yet Kobe seems like a fundamentally better player this postseason than he has ever been before in his career. But he hasn't met Walter Ray Allen yet. We'll see.