Kobe Bryant is off to a horrendous start in what could be his final NBA season. Bryant is averaging 15.8 points per game (his lowest since 1997-98) on a career-worst 32.3 percent shooting from the floor. His legs just aren’t there, and neither is his ability to go off.
It’s only been four games – the Lakers are 0-4, by the way – but hasn’t there been a sizable drop-off in Bryant’s game?
“Yeah, we haven’t seen him since January 21 when he tore his rotator cuff earlier this year in New Orleans, but even then, he was still pretty disciplined about getting to the right spots on the floor and kind of forcing his will to get to the baseline, to get to the elbow,” Orange County Register Lakers beat writer Bill Oram said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “And again, (it’s been) four games. I think we do need to little bit cautious about broad analysis at this point, but through four games he’s not getting to the spots where he can get easy shots where it’s going to reduce the load on him. He’s firing up these off-balanced threes that aren’t even hitting the rim. He’s really looked almost disoriented, like he’s not sure how to do it with what’s almost this new body of his, this body that just doesn’t quite respond like it has throughout his career. So maybe that’s something he figures out, but for now, he seems almost as lost as any of the Lakers out there.”
It’s clear that the Lakers are going nowhere this season. It’s also clear that Bryant, at 37, no longer has what it takes to lead a team to the playoffs, much less a championship. There are some who feel Bryant could accept a smaller role on a championship-caliber team, but Scott Ferrall isn’t buying it.
After all, who would want him? He looks old.
“Yeah, I don’t see it at this point,” Oram agreed. “Even before this season, I might have thought that was a greater possibility. But I think we’ve seen almost the assurance that Kobe won’t be able to play beyond this season. His legs are not there. Even that edge that he’s always played with really isn’t there. He’s kind of just another player that gets lost on the court a little bit. But I think there are teams that probably like him on a certain kind of contract. I think Dallas has always really fantasized about landing Kobe. Mark Cuban would love to have him. He could go do that on a one-year deal and chase a ring and play a limited role.
“But in terms of being the guy on a championship team – or even a starter on a championship team – unless he just severely alters the way he plays or approaches the game, I don’t see it either,” Oram continued. “Look, Kobe is one of the great champions in NBA history. I think both of us would real enjoy watching him chase one more ring, but unless something just dramatically changes, I don’t see that happening.”