Earlier in the week we talked about recent improved play from Kobe and him embracing the type of player he did not envision he would hold on to become late in his career. The last couple of games, however, Kobe has even exceeded that level of play.
It may be too early to say that this is the new norm, but we’re approaching the point where those who buried him as being “done” might do well to re-evaluate those firm statements and call them premature. Again, the sample needs to get bigger, but the fact that there’s a sample at all is encouraging.
The latest evidence of a revival came on Thursday night, where Kobe seemed intent to give us a game version of the #throwbackthursday hashtag:
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 18, 2015
The highight’s speak for themselves — especially that dunk over a surprised-he’s-about-to-dunk-on-me Clint Capela — but his boxscore does too. 22 points on 9-16 shooting, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and a block. His scoring would have been even better, too, if he’d not uncharacteristically missed 5 of his 7 free throw attempts.
We’ll see if Kobe can keep it up. Like his poor play earlier in the year, though, there’s actually not a lot to tell me his current level is some sort of fluke.
His legs do look fresher. His game does look more controlled. He’s got more burst off the dribble and with his jumper falling a bit more, defenders are playing him more honest. This all creates a domino effect of small things that add to his ability to make any given play at any given time. This creates an uncertainty in defenders that, as a 20 year HOF caliber player who has seen it all before, Kobe can capitalize on.
Time will tell, of course. But, for now, I’m just going to enjoy this. After all the hits Kobe took earlier in the year for being terrible, it’s nice to see him recover some and deliver some of those hits back.