Improving From Within: Kobe Bryant

Darius Soriano —  May 19, 2011

As we slog through the off-season, the questions about how to improve the Lakers are plentiful. A repeat of this season’s disappointments will not be acceptable for this group next season. However, nearly every conversation about how the Lakers can improve next season is focused on some sort of major change that needs to occur. Whether it’s finding a replacement for Phil Jackson or trading current players for other pieces that help this team get better, our instinct is to find that new shiny toy that will improve the 2012 version of the Lakers.

However, what I’ve found to be true more often than not is that when you have a championship caliber team (as the Lakers do), sometimes the best way to improve is from within. After the 2008 loss to Boston, the Lakers came back with nearly the exact same roster and claimed the championship the following season. The reason that they were able to win the next year had to do with the fact that Pau Gasol got stronger, Andrew Bynum got healthy (for the most part) and improved his game, Trevor Ariza worked on his shooting, etc, etc. The same Lakers that lost the year before got better the next season and reached their goal.

With that in mind, my thoughts drift to what this current group of players can do to improve their individual games to come back next season as better, more productive players. We start off looking at Kobe Bryant.

This past season was an interesting one for Kobe as he played fewer minutes and practiced less as a result of dealing with the residual affects of nagging issues with his off-season knee surgery and his in-season ankle sprain. Plus, whether he’d admit it or not, the ongoing problems with his arthritic index finger on his shooting hand remains an everyday impediment to his ball handling and security (and, potentially, his jump shot).

That said, going into this off-season Kobe is as close to 100% healthy as he’s been in many seasons. There will be no off-season surgery that limits his workout regimen; no deep playoff run that requires a longer recuperation period or pushes back when he can begin his off-season program. This summer Kobe should be able to put in a lot of work to strengthen his body and be in prime physical condition for the start of next season (whenever that may be). In his exit interview, Kobe stated that:

This is a good summer for me to train and get strong. There’s a difference between feeling healthy and feeling as strong as I know I can be … there’s another level I can get to.

With a stronger Kobe, the hope is that he can once again assert himself on both ends of the floor to be the difference maker that he’s been in the last two championship seasons.

Understand that despite first team honors for both All-Defense and All-NBA, Kobe didn’t have one of his trademark years on either side of the ball. While I support Kobe’s inclusion on the All-NBA 1st team (I believe it was a toss up between Kobe and Wade and would have been okay with either being selected), Kobe’s inclusion on the All-Defensive team isn’t something that I can defend easily. His knee issues at the beginning of the year and ankle problems near the end of the season affected Kobe’s defense more than many are willing to admit. The hope is that if he’s fully healthy next season, we can see more of the tenacious defender that has the ability to impact the game on D the same way he does on O.

Offensively, Kobe can also take a step forward this upcoming season just by being a bit healthier. When looking at his shot location data at Hoop Data, Kobe took nearly 1.5 less shots at the rim this past season than he did the year before. And while some of his inside scoring was supplemented by the fact that he shot a higher percentage at the rim and also took more shots in the 3-9 foot range, the fact is that Kobe did not drive as much and instead worked more from the post or shot pull up jumpers and runners when he did get by his man. This next season, a Kobe Bryant that has his legs under him may be able to turn some of those short jumpers and runners into lay-ins and dunks at the basket.

A stronger Kobe can also be more effective in the post this year than he was this past season. So much of establishing good position in the post is lower body strength and ability to quickly cut and reposition in order to be available for a post entry. This past year, Kobe depended much more on dribbling into the post to earn his position or relied more on his upper body strength to ward off defenders before giving up some of his position to go and meet the ball. With better leg strength, Kobe should be able to move better off the ball to earn position and better hold that spot when fighting with a defender before making the catch. With Kobe’s tremendous footwork, any inch in better positioning can lead to an easier shot attempt – be it a turnaround jumper or a step through for a finish at the rim.

Beyond any strength improvement from extra training or a more refined skill set based off his renowned work ethic, don’t discount how hunger and drive can also produce a better Kobe Bryant next year. This is a player that’s long took slights personally and used failure as a strong motivator to come back even more focused and prepared to dominate. With the Lakers 2nd round ouster fresh on his mind and people questioning whether this team’s window is closing (which could be construed as a dig at his own ability to be the best player on a championship team) I anticipate Kobe being a better player next year than he was this past season.

And if you’re looking for a way to improve this team the fastest, a better Kobe is nice place to start.

Darius Soriano

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36 responses to Improving From Within: Kobe Bryant

  1. I’d love to see Kobe off the ball more. It seems like he handled the ball a lot more this year. Kobe’s arsenal of moves makes him deadly off the ball. One of the things that made the Triangle so potent (particularly in 2008-2009) was Kobe being doubled off the ball on the wing. It opened up so many options. Heck, that is why Trevor go so many wide open threes. Teams knew all Kobe had to do was catch the ball, jab step, turn, and the ball was in the bottom of the net. Whatever Kobe may have lost regarding his ability to slash I know his post game still as good as ever.

  2. First I completely disagree with Kobes first team all defense selection because far to often he didn’t play any defense. That doesn’t mean he’s wasnt or able, I just believe he tried to preserve his energy for the post season. But guys like Tony Allen, Aaron afflalo, and thabo sefelosha really deserve to be acknowldge for what they do on that end.

    But I think the extra rest will do Kobe wonders this off season so I’m not to worried about Kobe getting better as much as I am with Shannon, Blake, artest, and Gasol(mentally).

    If the rest of the guys don’t improve it’s not goin to how good Kobe is. Kobe is still a superstar but he can’t just carry the lakers though and entire series anymore. I still believe the lakers should try to mix their roster up a little because the really need more athleticism. But I do agree that if the roster remains the same, which we all have to assume it will, they are still a championship caliber team.

  3. Anytime the ball didn’t move, it was a bad thing.

    Kobe handling it too much, Brown over dribbling, Pau taking way too much time to decide on a move.

    Whatever player has the ball, make the quick decision and go shoot or pass.

    That was a big problem with the offense. YES, the offense.

    Defense was a problem too, but that’s another story.

    Bye.

  4. I was confused about Kobe this season. Kobe had bad ankle, the next game, he came out and dunk the ball over Okafor of NO in round 1. After the series with Dallas, Kobe said he has to have better leg strength in the summer. Phil and Kobe knew that, why they didn’t make any adjustment in the offense ? Why did Kobe continue to guard Jason Kidd ? Did Kobe run out of gas after guarding C.Paul in round 1? If it’s true, this a serious mistake.
    Lakers organization and Kobe should ask themselves a question, how many good years left in Kobe ? The last two years, this team was lucky, Orlando and Boston gave Lakers homefield avantage. This season, Kobe said the Chicago Bulls had to win on the road in NBA Finals, same to this Lakers team, Kobe found out now it’s not easy.

  5. Kobe has to come back physically stronger and also needs to have a different cerebral approach. He must realize that coming back and trying to go 30 a game is not gonna win us the title. Finding a way to be a diverse and adaptive offense will be one of the most important things for us next season. Step one is less iso, less forcing.

  6. No concerns about Bryant whatsoever. But I’ll wake up when you get to Blake/Brown. *smile*

  7. Speaking strictly of the Physical Aspect, there is very little that Kobe can do to improve. He’s already stated that he will not have corrective surgery on his arthritic finger, which means that his ball handling (which, imo, is his biggest detriment) will not miraculously improve. No amount of rest (@ this point n his career) is going to alleviate the wear n tear on his thrice surgically repaired knee. Lets keep it 100, physically, he’s definitely on the Downside of his career.

    The only adjustment that Kobe has to make has to take place between his ears. He has to truly and sincerely learn to trust his team-mates. That is the only way that this Lakers Team will improve. We can bring n Adelman, Shaw, Sloan, Dunleavy or my preference, JVG and it won’t make a difference as long as Kobe still has that same stubborn state of mind. That is the main reason why everyone from Phil, on down to Rick Fox, has stated that the next Lakers Coach better have the intestinal fortitude to deal with Kobe.

    From day 1, its always been Mental over Physical. Mind over Matter. And that’s the predicament that Mr. Kobe Bryant finds himself n at this present time.

  8. It’s time for Kobe to ascend to the next level. He can feel, we can feel it. There’s a level beyond the Super Kobe level he’s reached before. A year’s worth of training in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber might do the trick.

    Extremely interesting post on why we should abandon the triangle offense. Haven’t finished it yet and not sure if I agree with it, but it’s definitely a good read and offers some food for thought. Some of it borders on “conventional wisdom” blasphemy:

    http://www.silverscreenandroll.com/2011/5/19/2178861/like-united-states-lakers-stand-on-the-precipice-of-change

  9. Darius,
    I will politely disagree with your post. The Lakers added two starters to the team that lost to the Celtics in 2008. Bynum and Ariza both were hurt in the 08 Finals with Bynum not playing at all and Ariza only playing a few minutes in game four after missing the entire second half of the season with an injury. That’s adding forty percent to your starting lineup from one year to the next. That’s a major overhaul.

    Regarding Kobe improving… That just doesn’t happen to players in their mid 30′s. Yes with major knee surgeries like ACL or MCL surgery a year can help add strength back to the knee… But not when it comes to minor knee surgeries like the one Kobe had. The only way Kobe improves next year is if he like some aging superstar athletes get on HGH. And that might happen. Kobe doesn’t like to not be the best and will do anything to stay on top.

    Do I think we need to replicate the 08 offseason where we added two new starters to the team that lost in the Finals? No I don’t. The Lakers have the second best SG in the NBA. They have the second best Center and arguably the second best PF. They have the best 6th man and the second best defensive SF in the world who is in the upper half of starting SFs. Currently they have the worst starting PG in the league. By bringing in an average PG the Lakers will greatly improve and no doubt will be the favorites to lose to the Heat next season. Now to beat the Heat? Kobe will have to get with that Suns training staff ;)

  10. Winning is an acquired taste, not easily abandoned. One of Kobe’s taste buds is labeled “Winning” say that in Charlie Sheen’s voice! Particularly distasteful is the fact that the Lakers could have and should have been the first team since the 80′s to make it to the finals 4 straight years. That in its self would have catapulted this roster into a stratosphere that will not be easily replicated.

    Why is it so difficult to get players that improve profoundly from year to year? The lack of improvement for others on the team has nothing to do with Kobe, but everything to do with the man in the mirror.

    Matt Barnes deserves another shot with the Lakers, he was everything that we dreamed of for the team when he was healthy. He was an energy guy, he was athletic, he finished at the rim, he played defense, he hit the open 3! He will improve with another year in the triangle and a deeper understanding of more options (if the triangle is the Lakers offense, which I believe that it will). I know this guy’s trainer and he works on his game EVERY summer. He’ll do no less this summer!

    Steve Blake should be given another year, also, the triangle is complicated and this was the first time that he played on a team with so much expectation. He should be the 2nd or 3rd guard (alternating with D. Fish) off the bench depending on match-ups.

    More emphasis needs to be placed on playing Caracter and Ebanks and any of the 2nd round picks that manage to make the team.

    The Lakers have been in need of a small fast or quick point guard ever since Tony Parker joined the Spurs, yet, draft after draft and trade after trade this need has not been addressed.

    Kobe will be ready, and will do whatever it takes to win next season.

  11. I think the level that we see Kobe Bryant playing at next season before the All-Star Break will answer all the questions of how much of a step he has lost.

  12. CHearn,
    “Kobe will be ready, and will do whatever it takes to win next season”

    If he actually does do whatever it takes, the Lakers will probably win the title again.

  13. Funky Chicken May 19, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    I’m with Aaron on this one. 2008 was an entirely different animal. What is disappointing (and scary) about this time is the fact that this year Bynum was healthy and very good during the playoffs. Gasol sucked, of course, but was coming off an all-star regular season. Odom had the best year of his life (but reverted to his inconsistent form come playoff time). I don’t see how those three guys can meaningfully improve–and by that I don’t mean improve their games but improve in ways that change the team’s outcome.

    However, I also agree that the Lakers don’t need the same kind of overhaul that occurred after 2008 (and replacing 2 of 5 starters is an overhaul). Derek Fisher is clearly the weak spot on this team. He adds next to nothing on offense, and his defense is maybe the team’s biggest liability because not being able to stop the ball exposes all the other problems.

    I don’t see any way that Lamar gets better, and if history is any guide, he’ll probably get worse. Pau is likely to be better in next post-season, but not the regular season. Andrew is under direct orders from the boss to “get in line” as the third option, so I don’t see how that translates into a better Laker outcome.

    For me, it is the backcourt. Replace Fisher and hope and pray that Kobe actually stops being Kobe for once and doesn’t spend the season trying to “prove to all those …er’s that I’m not done.” I am not holding my breath on that last one….

  14. Ha. If Kobe does whatever it takes (which I will interpret as forcing the issue), we probably lose. Let’s not forget lessons past, to let the game come to you, and play hard, but not force it.

  15. Games that are played prior to the All-Star game will be indicators as to what the Lakers did during the off season. Too many Lakers tend to do other than basketball during the off season. For Kobe to transcend being “The Mamba” will hinge entirely upon how his team mates develop over the summer. Kobe has not been opposed to passing the ball to his team mates when they have shown a high affinity of actually making the layup, the elbow jump shot, the corner 3, the dunk.

    Unless and until his team mates put time in the gym during the off-season, and actually work on their jobs like its a career as opposed to a hobby; I am all for Kobe going into Mamba mode.

  16. What scares me is the lack of youth. As has been noted, the 2008 to 2009 transition included the return of Bynum, the eventual move of Ariza into the starting lineup, and the benefit of Pau becoming more familiar with the system.

    Unless Ebanks can take a big step forward, the only viable youth on the roster now is Bynum. Through aging and roster moves, the Lakers have shed the young up-and-comers who brought hunger to the that 2008-09 lineup: Ariza, Sasha, Farmar, etc.

    A healthy Barnes will make a big difference, and amen to all who said an upgrade at the 1 will be key. Let’s see what Mitch can pull off this offseason.

  17. ReignOnParades May 19, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    Darius all “Kobe knows his body best” aphorisms aside do you think he should go under the knife for his finger issues?

    I mean if nothing can be done than so be it but I’d hate to think Kobe’s just reluctant to undergo surgery because it would detract from his workouts or because he’s made it a machismo issue

  18. kehntangibles May 19, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    I’m sure someone’s done this before here, but once again – anyone have any statistical evidence one way or another on how Kobe’s finger may have affected his ball-handling? I’ve definitely noticed some seemingly random turnovers he’s had in playoff games, and it would seem that his bum finger is a factor but that could just be the confirmation bias speaking.

  19. #17. I’d lean towards no just because the finger is now arthritic and there’s no guarantee that it will help him at all. This isn’t a knee scope or an operation on a busted shoulder where all signs would point to a full recovery with nearly guaranteed improvement on the injury. If that were the case, I’d say he surely should have the procedure done. But with the time he’d have to take off to heal and with uncertain results, I’m not sure it’s worth it. That said, it’s a tough call as I do feel it hurts his ball handling – not only off the dribble but in controlling the ball in traffic when he’s attacking the basket.

  20. #1 – I much agree and would love to see Kobe at the wing more next season. The three-guard set provided some of the better moments in that series that we prefer not to talk about too much.

    #17 – at this point, surgery on the finger would be very tricky and would have a low success rate. Avulsion fractures aren’t particularly good candidates even when operated on early and there’s been a lot of subsequent damage.

  21. I really just don’t see it. Unless Kobe can improve his jumpshot (from Distance) considerably – I think we all can tell he is on that downward slope of his career.

    I watched today how Harden just absolutely destroyed JTerry on both Defense and offense, because he is a bigger and better player than him. But Kobe either didn’t, or did a very bad job of, defending Terry in the last series, and the Lakers were toast.

    Maybe his ankle was just bad, and NO couldn’t exploit it. But, he couldn’t lock down Jason Terry. What would he have done in the finals against DWade, or in the Conference Finals against both Westbrook and Harden. It’s not like Shannon Brown has ever been renowned for his defense. The Lakers started giving up wide open looks once they eliminated any guy that could cover bigger guards through the pick and roll.

    Small guards (like Barea) always destroyed them, but the bigger guards – Billups/Westbrook, etc- were defendable on this team because they were worn out by Kobe on O and at times, hounded by Kobe on D. Where is that hounddog defense gonna come from.

    And by the way – the same thing has happened to Garnett as well. Kobe will undoubtedly have some very good games next year (provided there is one), but it will be more like good games from Shaq (2004 edition) with some major gaps in between games, than the monster 40 point MONTHS a la 2006 Kobe.

    The book to defending the Lakers this year was pack the paint and hope they jumpshoot. On rare nights the Lakers would hit those shots. Other nights, the perimeter stuff got ugly.
    The Lakers need legitimate shooters on the outside, especially at the PG position, because if they are going to play Artest on D, and Kobe’s fingers are mangled and legs are dead by the 4th quarter, if their is no threat at the other guard position the Lakers will struggle to finish big games.

  22. Jerry West to join Golden State FO as per Marc Stein.

    This off-season really bites so far.

  23. What everyone seems to be missing is that there are bigger problems brewing here.

    Bynum’s first comments after Phil retired were back to the old Drew. He should get more shots!!! Someone is back in his head talking that scoring crap that Phil had stressed to him “Is not in the team’s best interest”. Granted he is an extremely effective scorer, but as with Kobe’s ISOs, it slows the game down when they do so. We need easier opportunities at the basket. Therefore, we need to become more athletic. That would entail a younger point guard and/or small forward who can push the ball and score earlier and easier in the play. That means less reliance on the Triangle, replacing Fisher (MOST IMPORTANT) and maybe even Ron Ron. Getting Kobe to change his mind and see the big picture is like getting water to run upstream so good luck with that. The next coach is going to have to be strong (he will be challenged) and a leader that can motivate the minds of our fragile group. These guys just don’t see things as a team should. Too many individuals and they just don’t jell.

    Blake is scared to rock the boat, Barnes has never had to deal with a major injury before, Fish is OLD, Shannon wants to shoot like Kobe but can’t (he shoots on his way down though), Lamar shoots too many threes and has lost his rebounding ability, Ron is Ron, Kobe won’t let age beat him (it’s winning), Drew is ready to burst on the scene (at the cost of the team), Paul is in a female funk, Luke is a worthless albatross, and no one knows how to box out on rebounds.

  24. Renato Afonso May 20, 2011 at 7:09 am

    I don’t have many positive things to say about Kobe, specially nowadays. I never liked the ballhog SG that now seems to rule the NBA and Kobe, like it or not, can be a ballhog (we just call it “hero mode”). I believe that, for all his hard work on improving and conditioning, Kobe has a salary that cripples the Lakers in the near future since he is not the player he once was nor will he revert back to being such player.

    Ideally, Kobe would become more of a spot shooter receiving pick after pick to free himself from the defender and knock down the open jumper. If he did that and still used his low post moves on smaller defenders, I would be happy. He could score 20 per game while being extremely effective and still get his 5 rebs and 5 assists by simply passing the ball to our bigs. But I don’t believe that Kobe will ever acknowledge his decay and will become less and less effective and thus hinder our chances of winning it all (specially when his salary is near 30mil per).

    Who I would love for the Lakers to sign as a FA in two seasons is Arron Afflalo. He plays serious D, shoots the open 3 well, never demands the ball, plays tough… Afflalo and Tony Allen were better deserving of the all-defensive 5.But I digress. This is about Kobe…

    Kobe should:

    a) not bulk up. He isn’t as fast as he was and anything that could hinder his speed is not recommendable.

    b) use his dribble less. Try to catch and shoot more often when coming out of the curls in the strong side of the triangle.

    c) use the low post moves he has only when LO is on the floor and can drift away from one of the two inside positions in the triangle.

    d) ditch that “free safety” defense he likes so much

  25. Renato,
    Totally agree. Kobe moving without the ball, with the passing abilities of Bynum, Gasol, and Odom, would be very effective. Kobe would end up getting higher percentage shots and it would keep everyone involved in the offense.

    Busboys,
    “We need easier opportunities at the basket.”
    They already have that with Bynum and Gasol. They just haven’t utilized that to it fullest extent yet.

  26. #24. Just as an FYI, Kobe’s most successful as a scorer as a player coming off cuts, screens, in the post, and in isolations. His spot up shooting numbers are actually a bit lower than Gasol’s on the year (this is all per Synergy). I don’t have the exact numbers, but throughout the year I tracked these things just to stay on top of it all.

    So, I agree, Kobe needs to work off the ball more. The only issue with making that happen is surrounding him with players that can be trusted to initiate the offense and go where they’re supposed to in order to advance the offensive set. Triangle or no triangle, this will be true. In the context of the Triangle, this is where having SF’s like Ron and Barnes who aren’t initiators make it more difficult to run the more nuanced aspects of the Lakers sets. Theoretically, the Lakers had 5 wing players that they could really rely on to be ball handlers and initiators in their sets: Fisher, Kobe, Blake, Odom, and Walton.

    When looking at that list understand that only Kobe and Odom are more than one dimensional threats on offense (though I think Blake could do more if he tweaked his mindset and simply chose to be more aggressive) and Walton rarely played while Odom is a PF. So, yeah, I’d like Kobe to work off the ball more but to do that you also need the other players to be comfortable and effective in roles besides just spot up shooting.

    Granted, the Lakers could run their offense through their bigs more and I think we’d all like to see that (for a variety of reasons). But in the end, lets not bury Kobe as if he’s become Michael Finley. #24 did have a very strong year, just not a year that was other worldly that also ended in a championship. I wouldn’t be so quick to say he needs to solely be an off the ball player that spots up for jumpers and cleans up the scraps that others leave behind for him. Kobe will need to create offense for this team to be successful, whether fans like it or not. I happen to think he’ll still be quite good at it too.

  27. Mr. Bean is not going to change, if he is still having problems trusting teammates that have went to three NBA finals in the last four years(winning two) he never will. Father time is catching up to one of the best the game has ever seen, with his age and countless injuries over the years, no amount of offseason work can turn back the hands of time. I hate to see a great player struggle too come to terms with their own mortality.

    Why do I see this ending in a Brett Favre manner, distrust, mud slinging, and teammates taking sides. Bynum is not going to back down from aging Kobe, I bet Drew remembers how #24 took shots at him a couple years ago. With a healthy off season Bynum wants to prove that he is not option 3, but option 1, this could get ugly in a hurry . I must say I am very nervous about this upcoming season and the future of this franchise if no one is able to talk to Kobe, Phil wasnt able to saddle him. The next LA coach is toast, a walking deadman.

  28. I think the Kobe vs. Bynum stuff is overblown. Bynum rightfully noted that he needs to touch the ball more. When you have two skilled seven foot players on the floor there is no reason for your 6’6″ guard to be taking 25+ shots a night. It hurts even more when those are mostly contested jump shots.

    I don’t think Bynum is demanding control of the team. He is asking to be included in the offensive scheme. He has probably figured out, as we fans have, that Kobe’s heroics don’t get the job done anymore. A more balanced approach is needed. It is no coincidence the Lakers best postseason game was the one where there was offensive balance.

    With that said, Bynum seems to be the only Lakers other than Fisher that doesn’t tip toe around Kobe. He clearly is not intimidated by #24. That’s actually a good thing.

  29. Renato Afonso May 20, 2011 at 11:55 am

    Darius,

    When we talk about initiators, we’re refering to the guy who makes the first pass and then decides where to he is cutting (effectively starting the rest of the offense). That job usually relies on the person carrying the ball to our offense and that usually relies on Fish, Kobe, Blake and Odom. However, after that first pass, if the ball switches sides (depending on the option), the initiator can receive a pick or a double pick from the strong side and make the small curl which leads to a mid-range jumper. The pass that leads to that jumper can come from the top (a wing player) or from the opposite big (rarely do the Lakers go that far in the offensive scheme, but it’s there). When I say that I want Kobe to rely more on his jumpshooting I’m talking about taking them within the context of the offense.

    The good thing about the triangle is that once a team tries to stop that midrange jumper it will open the path for a drive to the rim (defensive assignement swarming the shooter) or for a pass to the big inside (defensive big helping on the shooter). Kobe would be perfect to play this role due to his multidimensional threat. Obviously you need other players comfortable in their roles, but don’t you think that they’re uncomfortable in part due to Kobe? (demanding more shots, stagnating the offense)

    Also, while Kobe can work off the ball and it is desirable that he would, there’s still the weak side pick and roll option which can be done with almost everyone on the floor. The options are there, he just needs to adapt and decrease the number of shots.

    Now, when it is time to go in depth about the triangle I’ll talk about the other guys who are not doing what they’re supposed to. Or maybe when we address them individually…

  30. I really, truly think that Kobe’s ankle was the reason for his surprisingly lowkey effort against Dallas (not that he played bad, but that he picked his spots and never really went in to Hero Mode for any length of time). So, while he has certainly lost speed and explosiveness, he is not as limited as he looked over the last 5-6 games of the playoffs.

    That said, he’s not getting any younger, and his susceptibility to lingering injuries is not going to lessen. It’s a fact – as you age, your body recovers slower. Barkley talked about this on yesterday’s BS Report (which was a great listen) – he knew he was on the downside of his career when he stopped being able to recover quickly from game to game.

  31. trade kobe for cp3

  32. Is it just me, or are we just overreacting a wee bit to the premature “news” of Laker demise? For from it that I have rose-tinted glasses on, but I do feel that Kobe’s been upbraided waaay too much. While I agree that he has slipped, I’m not so sure the slippage has been anything like we’ve seen from the other SG’s of Kobe’s era a la Vince Carter, Finley, AI or T-Mac. I guess what I’m trying to say KB’s not chopped liver and we should acknowledge that while he’s definitely not top-5 All NBA anymore, he’s still arguably top 2 at his position. And we should bear that in mind before we start treating him like post-Malice Reggie Miller!

  33. I believe Lakers????

  34. I TRULY BELIEVE KOBE WILL COMEBACK HEALTHY FOR THE 1ST TIME SINCE 07 SOMEWHERE AROUND 225 AND SCORE 30 A GAME 6 AST AND 6 REBOUNDS BUT ITS NOT HIS FAULT WE LOST ITS THE BENCH AND GASOL AND ODOM BUT TO GET BACK TO THE TOPIC KOBE WILL BE BETTER THEN HE HAS BEEN IN A ALONG TIME EVEN BETTER THEN HE WAS IN 08 1 BECAUSE HES HUNGRY 2 HE GETS TO TRAIN REMEMBER HE DIDNT OR SHOULD I SAY WASN’T ALLOWED TO 3 HES THE BEST PLAYER SKILLWISE IN THE GAME

  35. Time to pass the torch from kobe to a younger leader. With the line up of LA he’ll have, andrew, LO, and Pau, Artest, it’ll be easy. get CP3 for kobe