By Justin Becker, owner of FantasyBasketballMoneyLeagues.com. For more of his basketball insights, follow Fantasy Basketball Money Leagues at Google+
After two games into the 2013-2014 and as many losses, Kobe Bryant can only be optimistic and satisfied with his output. Despite the losses, the 35-year old megastar proved to himself and to the rest of the NBA world that it’s only a matter of time before he gets it going once again. After a mediocre performance in his season debut, Sunday night against the Toronto Raptors, Kobe was slightly better on a Tuesday night game against the Phoenix Suns.This time, he didn’t commit eight turnovers. This time he used some of his signature moves to score, and he even threw down his first dunk of the year. Of course he was not at 100 percent. However, he was very energetic and very aggressive.
The Black Mamba finished the game with a team-high 20 points on a 6-for-11 shooting night. He also missed both of his shots from beyond the arc and made all eight of his shots from the charity stripe. The most important fact was that he reminded us a little of the prior-to-the-injury Kobe–the dominant superstar, who can score almost at will.
Bryant gave a “B” overall grade to his performance. He acknowledges the fact that he has much more work ahead. He needs to work on his conditioning, though it’s obvious that it gets better and better every day. So does his confidence, and that’s why we will most probably see him taking more shots and using more of his skills as the season progresses. We will most probably see him playing more minutes, too. During Tuesday’s game, Kobe stayed on the floor for 29 minutes.
The Lakers fell to the Suns eventually, with a final score 114-108, but that was a good game for them. In general, LA has shown very promising signs even during the time Kobe was sidelined. Several role players like Xavier Henry, Wesley Johnson, Jodie Meeks and Steve Blake stepped up and made Mike D’Antoni feel optimistic. Now, all the Head Coach has to do is to utilize Kobe’s strengths the best way and blend him with the rest of the productive supporting cast.
Kobe commented on his progress, saying that it’s a process. Each night he tries to take a step forward and play better. Given that he won’t experience any setbacks in his rehabilitation process, he is expected to return to his MVP-caliber performances within the next few weeks.
Certainly, the Lakers will need some time to adjust to Bryant’s presence. For a team that saw so many changes this year, it’s difficult to build chemistry within a month. Now, Kobe’s return only came to shake things up and force the Lakers to change their game again, especially on offense.
Bryant is still expected to be much of a facilitator and distributor for the Lakers this season, not just a scorer. He knows that especially this season, his team will need his full powers in every aspect of the game.
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