The shooting guard position for the Los Angeles Lakers will be Kobe Bryant’s for as long as he remains in the game. While he could only get through six games last season, his history and work ethic give fans in LA a glimmer of hope that he might recreate the scenes of 2012. Even if he can’t, his standing on the team will remain unchanged.
Bryant has developed his game as his career progressed. One thing to expect more this season than others is the increased amount of time he spends in the post. Footwork and post play is something Bryant has concentrated on improving in recent years in an attempt to elongate his career. Now at 36, he will need to call upon all of that experience and basketball nous to have it over his much younger and more athletic opposition shooting guards.
Bryant claims to be 100 percent and trainer Gary Vitti and coach Byron Scott are preaching he will prove all his doubters wrong. It’s unlikely he will surprise people as he did in 2012 with his rejuvenated athleticism and seemingly new found youth after two major injuries, but if there’s a man who could bounce back, it’s Bryant.
He is still a 20 PPG guy and is an underrated passer. Expect Bryant to meet the career-high 6.3 assists he dished out during his six games last season and become more of a facilitator to counter his aging body.
Ready in the wings to fill in the starting spot should Bryant go down again is Xavier Henry. Coming off a year that would have gotten him a career contract with some long-term security had he also not gone down with a knee injury, Henry will be looking to build on a good 2013-14 season.
Henry was tasked with a lot of the ball handling duties as every Lakers point guard fell over around him. Known as a slasher and scorer, his ability to adjust his role was encouraging and could again be put into practice in the likely event Steve Nash misses a handful of games.
The Lakers will be happy with what they have at the shooting guard position provided they both stay healthy, but with Bryant and Henry coming off an injury plagued season, it will be a slow process getting the expected production out of the pair.
It could be a rough start to a potentially rough season for the Lakers as they adjust, but if they have any chance of making the playoffs, Bryant and Henry will be key.