Kobe Bryant is entering the 2014-15 season with the odds stacked against him. He’s on a Los Angeles Lakers team that isn’t exactly loaded with talent. But more importantly, he’s now 36-years-old and is coming off back-to-back seasons in which he suffered a season-ending injury.
However, Lakers legend James Worthy told Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times that Bryant will remain a top player next season.
“I still think Kobe has a very dominant game left in him,” Worthy said. “It may not be above the rim as we remember it, but he’ll get into the savvy game of the bump and fadeaway or the post-up game. He’ll become more of an assist guy, more of a guy who throws [out of] a double team.”
Bryant himself echoed similar sentiments to Chris Ballard of Sports Illustrated, suggesting that his basketball intelligence will allow him to still have tremendous success in the NBA.
“I’ll be sharper,” he says. “Much sharper. Much more efficient in areas. I’ll be limited in terms of what you see me do, versus a couple years ago. But very, very methodical, very, very purposeful.”
So when I hear the pundits and people talk, saying, ‘Well, he won’t be what he was.’ Know what? You’re right! I won’t be. But just because something evolves, it doesn’t make it any less better than it was before.”
Bryant might put up big numbers next season because the rest of his Lakers squad isn’t that talented, but it’s hard to imagine him being able to affect a game like he used to because of his deteriorating body. This isn’t a guy that’s going to be able to single-handedly take Los Angeles to the postseason anymore.
The NBA is a better place when Kobe is an elite player, but unfortunately his days at that level are likely over, despite Worthy’s confidence in him.