It is only a matter of time before Kobe Bryant makes his return to the floor. And with a player like Bryant, changes will have to be made by everyone on the court in order to mesh better with Bryant. The most important change, however, will be made by coach Mike D’Antoni.
The Lakers have a plethora of guards and wing players, many of whom have been playing extremely well in Bryant’s absence, but all of their minutes will decrease in some capacity. The question is, who’s will disappear completely.
With that being said, this edition of Lakers Nation Roundtable asks the question: With Kobe’s impending return, which guard/wing is most likely to see the largest decrease in minutes?
This is what they had to say:
Suki Thind (@TheRealSuki): I think Xavier Henry’s minutes will become virtually nonexistent and Jodie Meeks’ will decrease. Nick Young will likely get his minutes at the three, so Wesley Johnson’s minutes may become limited as well — even though he will likely remain a starter.
Steve Blake’s minutes should remain pretty constant until Steve Nash returns. Even then, I’d hope he continues to get minutes ahead of Nash, as he’s performing really well right now. Jordan Farmar’s minutes haven’t been significant as of late anyway, so I’d expect his to stay about the same.
If Mike D’Antoni decides to play Kobe more as a small forward, then Wesley Johnson’s minutes will reduce quite a bit, and Nick Young’s may decrease as well. With all the lineup shifts and rotation dilemmas so far this season, it should be very interesting to see how the team will adjust to the Black Mamba’s return.
Ramneet Singh (@RamneetSingh24): With Kobe Bryant on the verge of his return, one of the players in the rotation will have to take a back seat to the five time NBA champion. For the most part, the guards and wing players have done a great job filling in the void as Bryant recovers from his Achilles injury.
The Lakers knew they needed to bolster the roster with Bryant out for an extended period of time, but now that he is ready to make his return someone will be losing minutes. At this point, it appears as though Nick Young and Xavier Henry’s place in the rotation is safe, but I do see Wesley Johnson’s role diminishing.
Henry and Young have been reliable and productive for the team so far, whereas Johnson has struggled a bit to find his niche on this team. Although Johnson does bring a lot to the table with his speed and athleticism, the coaching staff will likely diminish his role once Bryant returns.
So far in 12 games, Johnson has averaged 7.8 points and 3.9 rebounds per game, numbers expected to decrease in the next few weeks.
Dan Duangdao (@DanD_NBA):When Kobe Bryant returns from his Achilles rupture, changes will naturally have to be made to the rotation. While all the players have earned their playing time this season, the player who will see the largest drop off in minutes is Shawne Williams.
Williams started at power forward alongside Pau Gasol early this season, but has only be re-inserted into the rotation due to the injury of Steve Nash. With a number of effective wing players, D’Antoni is likely going back to the rotation that has Wesley Johnson as the backup power forward.
While having Johnson at power forward isn’t ideal, he has surprisingly played well at that position and it has enabled D’Antoni to play all of his wing players.
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