In the month of April, Kobe Bryant played an average of 45.2 minutes per game as he willed the Los Angeles Lakers into the playoffs before suffering the season-ending Achilles injury.
Many attributed the injury to the minutes Bryant was playing at the age of 34, but he felt it was his responsibility after guaranteeing the team would make the playoffs earlier in the season.
At the “Kobe Up Close” event hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, Bryant hopes he’ll be able to play less minutes with the additions of Wesley Johnson and Nick Young:
“That’s the goal. That’s why we went out and got younger and picked up a couple of wing players in Wesley Johnson and Nick Young. We’re really looking for them to carry some of that offensive load.”
This past season, Bryant expended a lot of energy trying to guard the best perimeter threat on the opposing team to cover for Steve Nash’s deficiencies. It was admirable to watch for a stretch of games, but it wasn’t sustainable or an ideal solution.
This off-season, Bryant stressed the importance of adding young, athletic wing players to shrink the floor on the defensive end. The Lakers responded and were very fortunate as Johnson and Young were willing to take pay cuts to join the purple and gold for the veteran’s minimum.
Both players are expected to provide great energy on the perimeter and it sounds like Kobe has high expectations they will be able to contribute. Bryant will turn 35 before the start of the season and will need to conserve as much energy as possible during the regular season to make a push towards his sixth championship.
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