Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant is without a doubt one of the greatest NBA players of all time. But he is also without a doubt on the decline relative to where he was earlier in his career, which is inevitable when you play as many years as he has. But Bryant’s current state and how it affects the Los Angeles Lakers has made it completely impossible not to question whether or not Kobe Bryant should have ended his career prior to the start of this season.
Kobe Bryant Playing Poorly
This NBA campaign is just four games old for the Los Angeles Lakers. Admittedly, that isn’t a large enough number of games to come to any sure conclusions, but Kobe Bryant has been a shell of his former self through those four games. He has failed to score over 25 points in a game, but is still taking a disproportionately large number of the Lakers’ shots so far this season. That is a very troubling sign.
Kobe Bryant has always been a player who prefers to keep shooting when his shots are not falling, rather than deferring to his teammates who may be in better form at the time. But with this many games under his belt and with the condition Bryant’s body has to be in by now, it has only become more challenging for Bryant to shoot his way out of slumps.
But more importantly than Kobe Bryant’s field goal percentage, though, are the other areas that his presence on the Los Angeles Lakers has hurt the team.
Younger Players Stuck Waiting
In recent years, years that have seen Kobe Bryant miss large numbers of games due to various injuries, the Lakers received high draft picks in exchange for those losing seasons. With those draft picks they have taken skilled players such as guard D’Angelo Russell and forward Julius Randle. And while Bryant absolutely has the potential to provide wisdom to those players, his style of play when healthy is truly harmful to the development of those young players.
Chief among the reasons that Kobe Bryant is hurting the growth of his less experienced teammates is a result of just how many shots he is taking. When the shot clock runs down for the Los Angeles Lakers, they give the ball to Kobe Bryant and hope he makes a play. This prevents the younger players on the team from gaining experience in those areas, and delaying their development into complete players with experience in all facets of the game. In order to be the focal point of the offense, those players have no choice but to wait for Bryant to retire.
Now, add in the fact that Kobe Bryant is making more money than any player in the NBA, and you remember that he is taking up so much space in the Lakers’ salary structure that the team can’t afford to bring in other big name free agents. So not only is Bryant hurting the Lakers’ ability to develop young players, but he is also hurting their ability to bring in top notch players who have already established themselves as great. That is a disastrous combination for the Los Angeles Lakers for this season.
By: Jason M. Sanin