From Ryan Ward, Lakers Nation: At 34 years-old, Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers sustained the most severe injury of his NBA career. With a torn Achilles tendon, Kobe was sidelined for the remainder of the last season while the team was attempting to lock up a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Ultimately, the Lakers played their way into the postseason without Kobe in the lineup, but were swept by the San Antonio Spurs and faced a lot of uncertainty heading into the off-season. The major concern was Kobe’s health and whether or not he’d be able to return at some point next season or if he’d be able to continue playing at an elite level. While making an incredible recovery from surgery to repair the torn Achilles, Kobe has been doing his best to prove to all the doubters that he’ll be back to form much earlier than anticipated. One of Kobe’s attempts to prove he was making considerable progress in his recovery was jumping off a 40-foot high dive into a pool.
From Eric Pincus, LA Times: To make the playoffs, the Lakers need to be better than seven teams in the Western Conference. In the first three of 14 entries, the Lakers were ruled better than theNew Orleans Pelicans and Phoenix Suns but not as good as the Oklahoma City Thunder. Are the Lakers better than the San Antonio Spurs? Tony Parker is often be overlooked on the list of top point guards, but he shouldn’t be. The Lakers, like most of the league, always seem to have problems covering Parker. The Spurs were seconds away from winning the NBA title last season and Parker was a major reason why. Last season he averaged 20.3 points a game with 7.6 assists. San Antonio also has Corey Joseph and Patty Mills behind Parker. Steve Nash, at his best with the Phoenix Suns, was almost always stymied by the Spurs in the playoffs. The Lakers have better depth at the point than they did last year with Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar — more than the Spurs can boast.
From Kelly Dwyer, Yahoo Sports: Earlier in the offseason, we fretted over the prospect of Kobe Bryant returning too soon and shouldering too heavy a burden as he recovered from his Achilles tear from last April. Bryant is no stranger to playing through significant pain, few NBA players in history have gutted through more, but a tear like this (especially at an age like Bryant’s) is a significant departure from the broken fingers and fluid-filled knees that Kobe has had to deal with in seasons past. Second to Kobe, only one man knows Bryant’s body better. Lakers trainer Gary Vitti has been a Kobe confidante since his rookie season in 1996-97, and despite some misgivings over Bryant’s social media-related offseason choices, Vitti says Bryant is taking an exacting, intelligent approach to what will be a career-altering rehabilitation.
From J.M. Poulard, Bleacher Report: Steve Nash did not play up to his capabilities in 2012-13 with the Los Angeles Lakers. There are a couple of things he can do to bounce back in Mike D’Antoni’s offense. The biggest obstacle Nash faced in his first season in Los Angeles was a lack of touches. D’Antoni ran the offense through Kobe Bryant and tasked him with most of the playmaking responsibilities. That meant Bryant was responsible for setting up Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol. Thus, because Bryant handled the ball most of the time, Nash was relegated to the role of floor spacer. Synergy Sports tells us that 17.8 percent of his field goals came in spot-up situations. That is the highest share of these types of shot attempts Nash has recorded since Synergy Sports began tracking the stat in 2009-10.