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Kobe Bryant returns to practice, but are expectations too high?

Nov 20, 2013, 12:29 PM EDT

In Los Angeles, it apparently is illegal to use the words “temper” and “expectations” in the same sentence. At least when discussing the return of Kobe Bryant to the court.

As you likely have heard, Kobe Bryant returned to practice on Tuesday with the Lakers and above you see the video as proof (courtesy the fine folks at LakersNation.com). Kobe knocks down a few shots, makes a few poor decisions and generally looks pretty good but rusty.

Yet listening to people around Los Angeles you’d swear Kobe circa 2002 is going to walk on the court next week (most likely) and transform the Lakers.

Temper your expectations here people.

To start with, he will have a minutes limit at first. Plus, he’s not going to be the “put the team on my back and carry you” Kobe anymore, and if he tries to be it will not go well.

As Chauncey Billups told PBT — and he had the same injury at pretty much the exact same age — it is hard to get the same level of explosiveness back. Because of that it takes some time to learn how to get your shots off again and get what you want on the court. Yes, even for Kobe Bryant and his great basketball IQ and fundamentals (Billups isn’t too shabby in those categories, either).

Still, anything Kobe brings is going to help a struggling Lakers offense.

The Lakers are 25th in the league in points per possession, and one of the biggest issues is they are 28th in the NBA in free throw rate — they don’t get to the line that often. That’s one thing Kobe will help change. He’s going to be the same aggressive Kobe and he’s going to draw fouls and get some buckets. He will get to the line.

If Kobe, even at 35 coming off a ruptured Achilles, can make some plays and lift the Lakers offense up to around the league average, suddenly this can be a .500 team or a little better that can play for one of the bottom playoff spots in the West (it’s going to take 46 wins or more to make the playoffs in the West, that may be too high a bar for Los Angeles).

Kobe will have a positive impact on the team, just temper the expectations a little.

  1. harshedmellow - Nov 20, 2013 at 2:28 PM

    He’s gonna get TORCHED on D… and discover that the difference between All-Star and chump is a few milliseconds of reaction time… a few inches of elevation… etc.

    Ok, “chump” is putting it too strongly, but Kobe was one of the great athletic freaks of his era and that is simply done. Kaput. Finito.

    • psung26 - Nov 20, 2013 at 2:37 PM

      If you mean his days of All-Star defense are over, your statements make sense. But its far from true on offense / overall game.

      He may discover the difference between superstar and all-star to be a few inches / milliseconds of reaction time, but he’s not declining from all-star to “chump” or whatever sustitute you allude to.

    • antistratfordian - Nov 20, 2013 at 5:04 PM

      “He’s gonna get TORCHED on D…”

      So… he’s going to be the same as he was before?

  2. asimonetti88 - Nov 20, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    It looks like he is there physically but needs to get his rhythm and timing back.

  3. lakerade - Nov 20, 2013 at 2:58 PM

    Championship or bust! Back to back! Dynasty! We’re #1!

    It’s going to be great to see Kobe back out there, whenever that may be as he surely still believes there is at least one more run in him, even if it’s not this season. Kobe has indeed gotten us so used to presumed excellence that it’s hard to temper expectations, but it will just be great to see him on the court with the team. How he fares is another question, one that can be overanalyzed once he’s actually playing in games. Until then, just happy for the dude.

    • asimonetti88 - Nov 20, 2013 at 6:27 PM

      This team isn’t winning a championship. It’s a fun team to watch, but we do not have the talent this year. You can’t win it every year, they’ll be back soon enough.

  4. katra2logic - Nov 20, 2013 at 4:36 PM

    I have no doubt he can overcome his injury. But father time will catch him soon no matter what. He is already 12th on the list of total minutes played in the NBA (45390 minutes). Only 4 players have played more than 50,000 minutes, even the Pharaohs turn to dust….

  5. jhop86 - Nov 21, 2013 at 7:52 AM

    Torched kobe is far from chump he will be back and will play mamba defense

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