As we discussed last night, Kobe had an okay outing in his season debut showing flashes of the playmaking the Lakers need from him while also having several moments where he was sloppy with the ball and looked out of sorts with his decision making. This was to be expected as he seeks to regain the timing and game legs that will allow him to do more on the court.
The timing, of course, should come back with more game reps. It’s hard to go from practice to game action, especially after being out as long as Kobe has, and find your groove immediately. The activity players show in games and the quickness in how they move and react simply can’t be duplicated in practice — even in scrimmages.
The game legs, however, may be a different story. Kobe is attempting to come back from the type of lower leg injury that used to end players’ careers entirely. Medicine and training techniques have advanced so seeing him back on the court isn’t a surprise, but whether or not he can regain a level of explosiveness in his movement that comes close to approximating what he had pre-achilles tear is something we don’t yet know the answer to.
What may help Kobe get there, though, is dropping a few of the extra pounds he’s carrying around. Don’t take my word for it, however, take his:
When looking at Kobe last night, I must admit he did look a little bit bigger than normal. It was nothing outrageous, but it was noticeable.
At the Lakers’ official site, Kobe is listed at 205 pounds and while that’s probably not entirely accurate — player weights can fluctuate while players often get listed at the same weight from season to season even if that’s the case — the fact that he admitted to being a full 20 pounds over his listed playing weight should be a bit of a concern. Not a big one, but one that is worth noting as one of the factors that may contribute to how he’s able to perform physically — especially in areas that relate to quickness and agility.
It’s not like Kobe was awful in those areas last night. In fact, on several plays he looked just fine and after the game he noted how he was pleased with how he was able to get into the lane in his first game back. That said, he also noted that he could stand to lose a few pounds. I’m sure once the latter occurs, the former will get even better. All of this takes time, however.
How much, of course, remains one of the major keys to Kobe (and the Lakers’) season.