If you want to get the most out of Kobe Bryant, put a big obstacle in front of him. Like trying to come back from a ruptured Achilles at age 34.
Kobe has been working out diligently on his recovery, in fact holding himself back and letting it heal has been the hard part, he has said.
Lakers co-owner Jim Buss was in Las Vegas to watch his team play in Summer League and was interviewed by NBA TV and said this about Kobe.
“Well, we’re in Vegas, and I would bet a lot of money that this guy comes back probably in preseason. He’s real sharp in taking care of himself and he’s not going to rush anything just to get back and prove a point. He’s going to come back when he’s right. He’s a machine. He’s inhuman. I see him coming back at the beginning of this season. I can’t believe how much he’s progressed so far.”
The normal recovery time would have had Kobe back somewhere in the middle of the season. But you knew Kobe would be ready sooner than that.
When he returns he will not be the same player — he will lose some athleticism, some explosiveness. Not even Kobe can deny father time.
But over the last five years Kobe’s game has evolved from using that explosiveness to get his shots to using his footwork, his moves, his crafty play to get the shots he wants. He’s moved more into the post at times. Give him the ball at the wing and he’ll make a couple of jab steps, create a little m room then drive to the elbow area where he can pull up for a jumper. He has become very good at getting to his spots on the floor.
Which is to say, Kobe is still going to be good when he comes back. Just not the same.
The Lakers have a preseason game in China, I’d be surprised if he’s back for that. But Game 1 of the regular season, that would not be a surprise.