Rarely in the history of any franchise will you find a player that holds down a position like you have with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. For 17 year, Bryant was been the Lakers shooting guard, no questions asked. You could expect a high level of intensity and dedication to winning night in and night out.
That is, however, until last season, when Bryant played a mere six games. In his place stepped a hometown boy who didn’t have quite the same level of intensity nor dedication to winning, but made up for it in swag.
This season, the Lakers get a mix of both. After Nick Young filled in admirably sans Bryant last year, the duo will hold down the two-guard position.
With Bryant, for the first time in his career, you don’t really know what to expect. After two serious injuries, there is doubt surrounding his expected production level. While reports from those who have seen him working out this summer are positive, but individual workouts and NBA games are two totally different levels.
We know Bryant is going to give 100% each night, and he will demand the best out of his teammates, two things the Lakers missed last season. He’ll bring leadership and a calming presence when things get rocky, more which the Lakers lacked.
It’s hard to bet against Bryant, and if I were a betting man, I’d expect a near return to “old” Kobe Bryant. No one has the work ethic and drive of Bryant. If anyone would defy the odds one more time, it’d be Bryant.
Fortunately for Bryant, there’s a backup who is arguably the most capable backup Bryant has had in his career. Young, who will likely come off the bench as opposed to starting aside Bryant, will bring instant offense any time he’s on the court.
Much like last season, Young will be the anchor off the bench. In large part to him, the Lakers will likely feature a strong bench. And also in large part because of him, they will certainly have an adamant amount of swag.
These two could possibly start side-by-side, with one at shooting guard and one at small forward. However, with Young’s success of the bench last season and Bryant’s return, it’s easy to see the Lakers starting one Xavier Henry or Wesley Johnson at small forward and bringing Young off the bench.
In the end, here’s the stats I expect from these guys:
Kobe Bryant: 28.0 minutes, 23 points, 5.5 assists, 5.5 rebounds
Nick Young: 25 minutes, 19 points, 3 assists, 3 rebounds