Remember the 2010-2011 season where Kobe couldn’t even practice and played the lowest amount of minutes he’s played since his second season (an average of 33 per game)? That was the same season where he was admittedly playing on one leg and had to have a procedure done in Germany to rejuvenate his degenerating knees.
Yeah, in that season he still managed to average 25.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.7 assists.
I’m willing to bet that Kobe will be a little bit better off next season than he was in that season.
Sure, he was younger then, and he may not average the 27.3 points, 6.0 assists and 5.6 rebounds he did last season, but he won’t be as limited as he was in that 2011 season, in my opinion.
Basically what I’m saying is this. Kobe had one of his best seasons in recent memory because his health allowed him to, but even when he’s not healthy, he’s still extremely effective and certainly an All-Star caliber player.
Next season, barring any other injuries, Kobe should be able to practice normally and play significant minutes.
Surely, the Lakers need to find a solid backup for him and play him less minutes than they’ve been playing him, but I don’t see as much limitation for Kobe as he had in that 2011 season.
I see him possibly having a little bit less explosion and less speed, but that’s about it.
Obviously, I’m not a doctor, but orthopedic surgeon Dr. Robert Klapper believes Kobe’s will and determination will propel him back to an elite level and claims that his explosion will actually return in time.
Take it from Kobe himself, who said in his exit interview, via Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:
“The worst case is what, I lose some of my athleticism and I lose some speed. I see a lot of guys that are not athletic and don’t have speed that are still pretty damn good. And I think I’m a little better than them. So I think I can adjust.”
That’s exactly it. If there’s one thing Kobe is amazing at, it’s adjusting his game to compensate for almost anything.
Remember the torn ligaments in his wrist, the broken fingers, etc.? He’s always found a way to adjust to whatever his body may throw at him. He always finds a way.
Additionally, that’s just the art of him battling his injuries. That’s not even taking into consideration the level of basketball IQ he possesses.
The combination of the two is one reason that Kobe Bryant is a great player. With his IQ, he doesn’t need the athleticism or speed to be effective. It helps, but it’s always been the fundamentals that he’s relied upon–not his athletic ability.
He’s even come to grips with the possibility that he may have to become more of a facilitator next season and less of a scorer due to the injury, which is certainly something he’s capable of doing because of his skill level. In fact, he had a stretch of games where he exhibited this last season.
So to say that Kobe won’t be the same player would’ve been one thing, but for Charles to say that he’s going to just be a “Good player. That’s it,” is simply absurd.
He obviously has no idea the kind of will and passion that Kobe Bryant trains and plays with, nor the multiple ways he can affect ballgames.
Kobe has always been one of the best players in the league season after season, and even when he’s not at his best, he’s still a top 10 player according to ESPN. I’m convinced he’s going to remain a top 10 player next season, even after the Achilles injury.
That would certainly make him more than just a “good player,” wouldn’t it?
That would even consider him to be an All-Star caliber player, right?
It would also designate him as being a dominant player, no?
Charles Barkley is known to say some ridiculous things, but to say what he said about the Black Mamba is at the top of the list.
It’s all good though because Kobe feeds off of the critics who doubt him, and he’s always managed to shut them up in one way or another.
I’m sure shutting the mouth of Sir Charles will be just one more thing the Black Mamba is looking forward to next season.