As reported earlier today, Kobe Bryant will be out for 6 weeks with a knee fracture. The fracture is expected to heal fully and not affect him after he returns. We wish him a speedy and easy recovery.
Initial gut reaction would lead us to believe that this is a devastating blow to the Lakers. That without Kobe Bryant, the team will fail and flounder out of contention and into the desolate wasteland of irrelevance. But, that it not necessarily the case. There are more than a few reasons that Kobe’s injury is NOT that big of a deal for the Lakers:
1. The Lakers were 10-9 without him, 2-4 with him:
The Lakers played well without Kobe earlier in the year. The team posted a 10-9 record without him and was seemingly on an upswing. Mike D’Antoni had the offense working efficiently and quickly. When Kobe returned, the team turned into a slower, post-up offense, often featuring ineffective 1-on-1 play. Kobe’s presence made Pau Gasol better, but probably had a limited, or even negative, impact on the rest of the personnel.
2. Better ball movement:
The Lakers can expect a much more D’Antoni-esque offense without Kobe in the lineup. D’Antoni is one of the best in the league at making mediocre players look like stars with good, quick ball movement. The team will return to getting every single player involved, and in turn, increase confidence and aggressiveness from almost every player. The ball movement will lead to quicker and better shots.
3. Many more 3-Pointers:
The Lakers are 2nd in the NBA in 3PM at 9.7 per game. However, during the 6 games of Kobe’s short return, averaged only 6.6 3PM per game. This was the most effective part of the Lakers’ offense, but has suffered since Kobe’s return. In his absence, the Lakers will return to a 3-centric offense that can catch fire against any team in the NBA. The improved ball movement will lead to open looks from beyond the arc, and Nick Young, Jodie Meeks, Wesley Johnson, Xavier Henry, and eventually Jordan Farmar will benefit significantly by the change in offensive strategy.
4. Jordan Farmar will be back in a week:
Speaking of, there is a lot of speculation that the Lakers will look to sign a PG with (starting PG?) Kobe Bryant going down. That will not be neccessary though, as Jordan Farmar is expected to return in the next few games. When the true PG returns, the offense will flow much better, and we will not see as many of the unforced turnovers we saw when Kobe or Xavier were playing point. Splurging for a PG now when it could affect the future cap of the Lakers is not a good move, especially because….
5. The Lakers aren’t a contender anyway:
The Lakers are currently the 11th seed in a Western Conference that is stacked this year. If they were in the East, where a 12-13 record would mean a 6th seed (seriously, a SIXTH SEED), it would be a different story. But, the Lakers are not contenders this year with or without Kobe, and we all knew it before the season even started. The Lakers are busy planning ahead to the next few offseasons to restock the roster. They are currently in position for the 14th pick in the draft, which would be the easiest and cheapest way to restock the roster with talent. Since they aren’t anywhere close to championship ready anyway, the team should not sacrifice draft position, money, and flexibility to push for the 8th seed.
These are my reasons for sticking with the roster we have and not overreacting to Kobe’s injury. Besides, he will probably be back in only 4 weeks anyway.
What does everyone else think about the shocking news?