Was there ever any doubt?
Somehow there seemed to be some “will he or won’t he?” drama around Kobe Bryant being healthy enough and ready to play in the Lakers’ season opener Wednesday when they host the Minnesota Timberwolves. We’ve been saying for days to expect him to play, and both Kobe and coach Byron Scott made it clear Tuesday he would be out there for the Lakers’ Wednesday night. Here are the quotes of note, via Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, and Lakers.com reporter Mike Trudell.
While there will be a lot of Kobe and Kevin Garnett talk leading up to this game, the far more interesting part of the matchup is the youngsters: D'Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson, and Julius Randle vs. Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Zach LaVine. Towns looked fantastic during preseason — time to start putting the in your “this guy could win Rookie of the Year” category — while Byron Scott has not yet even committed to starting Russell. He dodged the question completely, although most expect it to be Russell.
This isn’t a knock on Russell — adjusting to playing the point guard in the NBA is hard, and it tends to be a steeper learning curve than for bigs. Russell has the tools and shows the signs of being a quality player, it’s just going to take a little longer to get there, and the Lakers need to be patient. That means you, Kobe.