Phillip Barnett (@LakersNation): His immediate impact may be determined by the collective health of the Lakers back court. Going into Friday Night’s game, the Lakers are only with one healthy true point guard, and very little ball handling depth. You can expect Steve Blake receive the brunt of the minutes at the point guard position, but look for Bryant to take on a lot of the ball handling duties when Blake heads to the bench (and remember, Blake is dealing with a hyper-extended elbow injury of his own).
Bryant mentioned at Thursday’s practice that he’s more than willing to become a facilitator for this team, and will pick his spots when the opportunity presents itself. While it’s hard to imagine Bryant going into the conjectural full-on facilitator mode, it’s a role that may best fit for the Lakers right now. Of course, as others get healthy, we can expect that role to change, but we should expect to see his pass-to-shoot ratio a bit lower than usual.
Ross Gasmer (@Ross_Gasmer12): To nobody’s surprise, Kobe Bryant announced this afternoon that he will indeed be back on the floor on Sunday against the Toronto Raptors.
On the surface, getting back Bryant is a huge boast for a Lakers team that’s shown flashes of brilliance, but also could be better than their 9-9 record. In terms of impact, Bryant will assume the role of being “the guy” and while they’ve done a great job at sharing the ball, they need a player to take over during stretches of games.
In games against the Spurs, Grizzlies and Wizards the Lakers looked lost down the stretch and that’s where his impact will be felt the most. If it’s scoring or setting up his teammates, the Lakers should be able to close out games better with him on the floor.
Welcome back, Mamba.
Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner): With Kobe Bryant making his season debut on Sunday against the Toronto Raptors, the Los Angeles Lakers will have their face of the franchise back on the floor with no telling what to expect from the five-time NBA champion.
The real question from here on out will be what Bryant can provide after missing the last eight months due to a torn Achilles tendon. Bryant will want to make an impression right out of the gate, but it’s highly unlikely he’ll be able to immediately brush off the rust and by the superstar of old.
Currently, the Lakers are sitting at 9-9 and have played much better than most anticipated. Bryant’s return could have one of two outcomes in my opinion with the team firing on all cylinders due to a boost in confidence playing alongside Bryant or the chemistry could begin to fall apart with a player that demands the ball on almost every possession.
Ultimately, I believe Bryant’s return will improve the team’s chances of competing for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Unfortunately, it will take some time to build chemistry with his new teammates resulting in the team struggling for a week or two in order to adjust to Bryant’s playing style.
Vince Samperio (@VinceSince91): Kobe Bryant’s return to the Lakers gives the team another shooter and a capable ball handler to ease the loss of point guard Jordan Farmar. Bryant’s minutes may be limited as he is eased into the rotation. The Lakers will benefit from his return immediately with an energy boost to an already energetic team. Bryant will likely slot into the small forward position and should be looking to make plays, rather than take over games.
The team has developed a nice rhythm and chemistry on the court in their rotations and I believe Bryant will be looking to pick his spots. The 35-year-old will act as a facilitator on the court and will give the team more confidence late in games. Bryant has seen the team over the weeks and has been taking account of what they need from him. The Lakers pace will slow down with Bryant in the game but will become more efficient as he will draw the attention of the defense and open up the shooters.
Overall, the team will benefit from Bryant’s return and his immediate impact will be noticeable.
Kobe Bryant Discusses Becoming More Of A Facilitator