Will the Los Angeles Lakers make the NBA playoffs this season after missing the last two postseason? Nope. But Kobe Bryant seems to think they will.
Delusional? Confident? Arrogant? Simply trying to set high goals for the young players on the team? All of the previous combined? Probably something like that. He was asked, so he gave a straight answer: Absolutely. But when talking more into specifics about the progress this brand new team is making, he made it seem a little bit more obscure.
We are going to camp trying to piece this together just like every other team does. We have to figure out what our strengths are, figure out what our weaknesses are. And every time we step on the court we are going to try to hide our weaknesses and step up to our strengths. We have talented players in their respective positions. We have some really young players. How exactly will the pieces of the puzzle fit? We really don’t know. They have really set themselves up for a promising future going on years. I think they drafted very well. The free agents that we picked are extremely solid. Hibbert, Bass, Lou. We have a very good mix of young and veteran leadership. The challenge is going to be blending the two and cutting down the learning curve.
The Lakers have a young nucleus that might develop into something special not too long from now. But it’s only promising, nothing more. There will be two rookies in D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle (played one game last season before going down with an injury). There’s Jordan Clarkson, who showed promise and flash last season, but only if he isn’t a point guard, and is allowed to get enough touches, something Bryant usually gets in the way of.
Bryant has done so much in his career that at least through interviews he makes it seem like it’s difficult for him to accept that the Lakers of the past – the team that won five championships from 2000 to 2010 is no more, with Bryant and Phil Jackson being the link that connects the two periods. He’s not the same player, despite waving his five championship rings at anyone doubting him. The Lakers are in the wrong conference to expect some sudden boost in their status.
This is probably the last season for Bryant, a player who can still score 20-25 points a night but with declining efficiency, and usually causing more harm to his team when forcing his offense down his teammates throat. A nice way to say goodbye to the league and the franchise would be stepping aside and not getting in the way of the inevitable future. From what we’ve seen of Bryant over the last few years, it might be the most difficult thing he’s had to do in his NBA career.