Laker fans can’t be blamed if they seem a bit glum at the moment as their cross the hall rivals have clearly improved yet again this offseason while the rest of the Western Conference has found ways to strengthen in the wake of their losing Dwight Howard.
But fans of the purple and gold got a bit of a boost this week after seeing that star guard and future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant is able to jump into pools off a high dive platform. Bryant’s Twitter account posted this photograph a few days ago showing the five time champion on a platform with “If I can run, I can jump” tweeted alongside it.
The Tweet just fuels the speculation that Bryant’s recovery is going even better than planned and could allow him to be ready to return for the season opener in November, giving the Lakers the much needed All-Star presence that is going to have to lead them to the playoffs.
Under Mike D’Antoni, the Lakers have shown an inability to play defense and struggled just to make the playoffs at all last season. After the loss of Howard, most NBA fans and analysts alike agree the Lakers could be headed for a much more disappointing season this year. But if the Lakers have one hope to cling to, it’s Bryant and a successful return to the court.
Bryant has been the heart of the franchise for some time now, but this year more than ever he will be required to do the lion’s share of the heavy lifting. Pau Gasol and Steve Nash have not aged as well as Bryant and cannot carry the scoring burden that Bryant is capable of. Outside of him, the Lakers lack the threats they need to be a real competitor in the west, but it’s not just his career average of 25 points per game that they’re going to miss.
Bryant is a solid defender and an important perimeter presence to have alongside Steve Nash on the defensive end. For his career, the veteran guard averages 1.5 steals per game and will undoubtedly be the crucial voice for Mike D’Antoni’s Lakers on that end of the floor.
While his career has often been surrounded by debate on whether or not the team is better when he shoots a lot or doesn’t, one thing that can’t be argued is that the Lakers this year will most certainly be better with him in the lineup. Whether or not he can return to his old form is questionable after such a major injury, but Laker fans can at least be a little more optimistic to start the season knowing their iconic shooting guard is healthy enough to play.