After two games, it seems pretty clear that the Los Angeles Lakers aren’t very good. The Lakers blew a big lead at home against the Minnesota Timberwolves before losing 112-111, and then Los Angeles proceeded to get destroyed in a 132-114 loss to the Sacramento Kings.
But while the Lakers have looked pretty rough early on and may lose a boatload of games, this season won’t be a total loss if the young core develops. For that to happen properly, Kobe Bryant will have to take a step back, which is something he acknowledged after the Kings debacle. However, he also admitted doing that will be difficult, according to ESPN’s Baxter Holmes:
“It’s difficult,” Bryant said. “But it has to be done.”
It’s certainly proved to be easier said than done through the first two games. In the Wolves game, Bryant shot 8-of-24 in just under 29 minutes of action, including 3-of-13 from three. 14 of those shots were contested, and far too many possessions devolved into a Kobe iso that ended in a difficult shot:
This possession consisted of one pass to Kobe and then a contested long two that missed with 14 seconds still left on the shot clock. An occasional tough shot like this is fine because it’s Bryant’s bread and butter, but they happened far too often:
On this possession, Kobe grabbed the defensive rebound, dribbled up court, dribbled to the corner and launched up an ill-advised three with, again, 14 seconds left on the shot clock. No ball movement. Nothing. Just Bryant hijacking a possession to take a bad three.
Things didn’t go much better against the Kings, as Bryant missed four threes in the first six minutes and went 1-of-8 from deep for the game (he was a respectable 5-of-12 overall). Here’s one of those four early misses:
In a vacuum, this wasn’t a terrible shot. Kobe got a little space here thanks to a dribble hand-off with Julius Randle, so it’s not like he was being smothered by a defender. However, in the Lakers’ previous three possessions, two had ended with missed Kobe threes (that were good shots). So chucking up another one with 16 seconds still left on the shot clock wasn’t great, even if the Lakers were already in an early hole.
Now, Bryant certainly isn’t the only problem in Los Angeles. The defense appears to be a dumpster fire, the coach isn’t any good and the youngsters have been inconsistent at best. But if that young core is going to develop, Kobe absolutely must heed his own advice, take a step back and limit the bad shots.