I get it, Los Angeles Lakers fans.
You think Byron Scott has officially lost his mind. Or, perhaps it was simply confirmation of that fact when he recently stated that Kobe Bryant would see some time at power forward.
Scott’s reputation as a head coach in the NBA is in tatters, in the eyes of the Laker faithful at the very least. In his first year at the helm he pulled moves like starting Ronnie Price, benching Ed Davis for Robert Sacre, and, my favorite dead horse to beat, starting Ryan Kelly as anything other than a stretch big.
The head coach was not perfect when it came to dealing with Kobe Bryant, either. In the early going, the offense was simply “Kobe-Or-Bust”, leaving the fragile veteran to chuck horrific shots as time ran out on his tentative teammates. Bryant’s minutes were uncapped, adding to his already tremendous workload.
The result was an early exit from an already breaking-down legend. Kobe Bryant would end his 19th season with the Los Angeles Lakers after only 35 games played, the victim of a torn rotator cuff.
It’s easy to imagine the amount of eye rolls, guffaws, and WTFs when Byron Scott said that his soon-to-be 37-year-old shooting guard would be playing power forward at times this season. It’s easier to hate the notion, given the one-year track record of the guy proposing the idea.
But you really should love it. The reason is two-fold.
First, the idea is not all that outlandish. Most know by now that Kobe Bryant projects as the Lakers’ starting small forward to begin the season. He would likely only be playing power forward in small-ball situations a la Paul Pierce with the Washington Wizards last season; a strategy that paid off situationally for that group.
It’s not as if Kobe would be asked to square off against players like Zach Randolph or Blake Griffin — guys that would rip him to shreds in the post. He would be taking on guys like DeMarre Carroll or Draymond Green, tough guards, but less-so than those punishing bigs mentioned earlier.
As a general theory, Kobe Bryant as the Los Angeles Lakers’ small-ball power forward makes some sense.
But the main reason that I am all-in with the notion of Byron Scott being open to playing small-ball with Kobe Bryant has more to do with the big picture. Perhaps it’s a signal that Scott is ready to join the modern NBA.
I support the concept of a lineup featuring four shooters and Julius Randle in a five-out situation, terrorizing opposing defenders who try to match up with him as he bullies his way into the paint.
I embrace the opinion that the Lakers could toy around with a lineup featuring three point guards, punishing teams in transition with their skill and speed.
I welcome the thought of less mid-range jumpers, and more three-point attempts.
Kobe Bryant at power forward is a modern idea. On it’s own, it’s a usable strategic concept. But, in the grand scheme of things, it signals the potential for a different line of thinking for a franchise that seemed stuck in the past as of late.
And that’s why I love the idea.
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