There are nine games remaining in Kobe Bryant’s career with the Los Angeles Lakers. With everyone hoping for vintage performances during this final stretch, the franchise has done well in preparing for the post-Kobe era.
In the last two drafts, the Lakers have been able to select Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, D’Angelo Russell, Larry Nance Jr. and Anthony Brown. With each player showing their potential at different points of the season, fans are looking for one of them to emerge as the next face of the franchise.
Following the loss to the Washington Wizards, Bryant was asked if he will pass the torch to any member of the young core according to Bill Oram of the Orange County Register:
Bryant: “Torches never get passed. You’ve got to earn them.“
— Bill Oram (@billoram) March 28, 2016
After Michael Jordan retired from the Chicago Bulls in 1998, the NBA was looking for their new face to carry the league. Despite stiff competition from players like Allen Iverson, Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady, Bryant earned his place with individual and team accomplishments.
For the Lakers, they are hoping the young core is able to carry the torch. While it may take a couple seasons for them to develop, each player has the work ethic and confidence to take on this challenge.
Heading into the off-season, the Lakers have an opportunity to speed up their rebuilding process. Along with a top-three protected pick as a result of the Steve Nash trade, the franchise will be armed with a projected $65 million to pursue two max contract players.
The Lakers will take on the Utah Jazz on the second night of a back-to-back at 6:00 PM PST.