Reason 6: How much is left in the tank?
Back in ’96 when a young 18-year-old Bryant stepped on the NBA hardwood, little everyone know he would go on to become the face of the Lakers for the next decade and more. He was able to earn his rings alongside Shaquille O’Neal for a few years before being recognized as the league’s best scorer. In 2006, Bryant was the sole offense of the Lakers, averaging a staggering 35.4 points a game— he was 28-year-old at the time. Now in 2011, the 33-year-old Bryant may be searching for answers. His game is savvier than ever, and while most of the speed and flash is gone, Kobe can still lead his bunch into the playoffs, with or without Pau Gasol.
The main question facing this franchise going into this season is the team’s chemistry. Preseason games don’t say much, but last night’s loss to the rejuvenated Clippers proved how the competition is growing right next door. It looks like the Lakers will head into this season with high hopes behind their prospects, and the leadership of their veterans. But this team needs something more. Not a ridiculous trade, but something fresh, something new, something to change the vibes in this locker room.
Chris Paul was minutes away from becoming the Lakers’ new pulse, but after the nixing of that trade, it seems as though the franchise was put on a stand-still. Pau Gasol can still put up the numbers and Artest can change his name, but there’s nothing to look forward to here. The team will, once again, put the load on Bryant to take them places, but how much more can this guy do? Bryant has scored 27,868 points in his career, the most of any active player in the league today. But that’s not the concern, the aged shooting-guard has amassed 40,145 minutes of playing time— putting him fourth on the list among active players. Times are changing quick, how will the Lakers take the load off KB24 this upcoming season? That’s something we’re waiting to see in the next few months.