Kobe Bryant appeared in just six games for the Lakers last year, after recovering from an Achilles injury only to suffer a fractured knee which once again prematurely ended his season.
While there were moments when he looked like his former self, it was clear he needed to get reacclimated to the pace of the NBA game to find some measure of consistency. Whether it was due to still being bothered by the previous injury or just needing to shake the rust off, Bryant turned in single-digit scoring performances in three of his six games back.
He wants to avoid that part of the comeback this time around, so Bryant plans on using the preseason to the fullest extent possible in order to be ready for opening night on Oct. 28.
Lakers coach Byron Scott said Kobe plans on playing in all 8 preseason games to get the rust off, get his timing and get his legs ready.
Bryant was a full participant in the team’s first practice on Tuesday, going hard for two hours and 15 minutes before Scott asked him to shut it down.
He had to be asked to leave the court. For his own sake.
“Basically, I had to ask Kobe to, you know, ‘Why don’t you shut it down? We’ve got another one tomorrow,'” Lakers Coach Byron Scott said, encouraging Bryant to sit out end-of-practice conditioning.
Kobe is going to go as hard as he’s allowed to by the coaching staff, that much is clear; we saw this tenet pushed to an extreme under Mike D’Antoni in the latter part of the 2013 season, just before Bryant suffered that Achilles injury. Scott seems to have more juice with Bryant, however, at least in the early stages of their new relationship.
Bryant wanting to play in all eight preseason games is fine, although there is a back-to-back in there that might be worth missing the second night of simply to not overextend himself needlessly. It should help expedite his return to form, which the Lakers will need if they’re going to be competitive for the bulk of the upcoming season.