Jackson smiled as he said it, offering a reluctant tone that conveyed that he didn’t really want to criticize Bryant outright as the honest answer might require. But as dominant a defender as Bryant can be, Jackson has awfully high expectations of him — as Jackson always has in the past when dismissing a gambling Bryant’s All-Defensive Team nominations from opposing coaches as rubbish.
“We’re trying to work with Kobe in staying inside the team framework of how we play defense,” Jackson said.
Jumping passing lanes for steals is a huge part of the Lakers’ new swarming defense based on zone principles, but Jackson said the new alignment makes it even more dangerous if Bryant gambles for steals too much.
“Because he’s such a good defensive player with great anticipation, sometimes he might take a foray into the steal market and come away empty-handed, which compromises our defense,” Jackson said. “The way we’re playing our defense now, it really does (compromise us), because we overload (one side of the court) and sometimes it leaves us naked.”
Jackson also mentioned how he’s aware of a little competition between the four Lakers among the NBA leaders in steals per game: Trevor Ariza is 14th, Bryant is 16th, Lamar Odom is 20th and Jordan Farmar is 39th.
I talked to Ariza about that in the locker room later, and he complained that he’s getting shorted by that stat crews who don’t give him credit for all the steals he has earned. I told him that I thought he was right, actually.