With the Los Angeles Lakers heading to the lottery for the third consecutive season, one of the major issues has been balancing Kobe Bryant’s final season and developing the team’s young core.
Although Kobe has recently played well, he still leads the team in field goal attempts (17.2) and second in minutes (30.4). With the five-time champion dealing with a sore shoulder, general manager Mitch Kupchak talked about how this season is about celebrating his career, via Baxter Holmes of ESPN:
“This [season] is really a justified farewell to perhaps the best player in franchise history. And, God-willing, he’s going to want to play every game and he’s going to want to play a lot of minutes in every game, because that’s just the way he is.
“And as long as that continues, which it should, then that’s 30-35 minutes that you might give to a young player that you can’t. How do you get a feel for your team going forward when you know that your best player is not going to be there next year? So it’s really hard to go forward until he’s no longer here.
Heading into the new season, there was optimism of finding a balance between Kobe and the young core. While it has been a difficult situation, Kobe has made some adjustments to his game and the Lakers have started to make some progress.
With this season being about celebrating Kobe’s career, it will be interesting to see how the young core develops moving forward. While Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell are coming off the bench, Larry Nance Jr. and Anthony Brown have had opportunities to play major minutes as starters.