Early on into the season Kobe Bryant saw the bright white light, Bryant announced that his storied 20-year career would be over after this season and so began Kobe’s farewell tour. Many applauded the decision, as Bryant was shooting one of the lowest percentages in the league, and seeing his own mortality, Bryant decided to make this his last season in the Association. The announcement also gave all NBA fans a final chance to see and appreciate Kobe, knowing that this was their final chance. The Lakers are doing all they can to cash in on their golden goose, playing Kobe the second most minutes on the team at roughly 30 a game even with his struggles. The Lakers moronic approach to this season is a blatant sabotage to the development of the Lakers young, talented players and slows the team rebuild for the future.
Mitch Kupchak And Kobe’s Farewell Tour
Kobe is an all-time great, but he’s hurting the Lakers with his play and by not willing to accept a diminished role with the team. Coach Byron Scott has said multiple times that Kobe will remain a starter and a key player no matter how bad the Black Mamba plays and Mitch Kupchak, the Lakers GM, recently reiterated the team’s position on their once franchise cornerstone.
“Under normal circumstances [in a season like this], at some point, you would probably concentrate on just developing all your young players,” Kupchak told ESPN on Tuesday. “But we can’t do that right now.”
To be fair, the Lakers are a bad team no matter what, and putting all their eggs in the Kobe Bryant basket might be good for business and Kobe, but it is awful for their basketball team. Two top-10 picks in Julius Randle (7) and D’Angelo Russell (2) have seen their minutes fluctuate and both have lost their starting roles in part to service Kobe and his 35% shooting from two point land and 26% from behind the arc. Russell and Randle may be young and will make mistakes, but both shoot better than that and if they were given a larger role on the team, it would lead to wins for the Lakers and more growth and confidence for Russell and Randle. But, because Kobe used to be Kobe, the Lakers have decided to act like it is 2008. Only the 76ers at 4-35 are worse than the Lakers (8-30) and the team’s strategy for this season is only making things worse.
In his conversation with ESPN, Kupchak went onto say, “We have to figure out a way when he does play to play with him, get him the minutes that he wants, get him ready for the next game, hope he plays the next game, and if he doesn’t, we have to get our lineup in such a way that we can compete and develop the young players. It’s not a perfect scenario, but there’s no way to plan this. There just isn’t.”
Sorry Mitch, but you don’t need a plan to see that Kobe is hurting his team, even with his improved play of late. Having Bryant play five or ten less minutes a game would lead to more wins and better development for players like Russell, Randle, Larry Nance Jr. and second-year player Jordan Clarkson. While the plan from the brass of the Lakers is part of the problem, Kobe himself could facilitate a move to come off the bench or decide to become a playmaker instead of continuing to act like he’s still an elite scorer. However, as simple as it sounds, you can’t expect Kobe, who was once amazing, to do that so it falls on Scott and Kupchak to put Bryant in his place.
Bryant’s offensive win shares are the lowest on the Lakers roster at -.07, and his true shooting percentage is also lower than anyone not named Metta World Peace, Robert Sacre, or Anthony Brown. Bryant’s player effienciey rating is also below league average, not the numbers you want from a player making 25 million. Kupchak knows the Lakers aren’t good, but neither is Kobe Bryant anymore. There is no good reason to sabotage your entire season and hurt your future just so a by gone star can get a little more time in the spotlight.