Can Kobe Bryant defend power fowards? MAILBAG

We’ve hit that point in the offseason where there is¬†really nothing going on. While players and coaches are on vacation, fans cling to any sort of news that breaks. Things have been quiet on the Lakers-front, aside from head coach Byron Scott stating he plans to have Kobe Bryant play some minutes at the power forward position in certain situations.

It has drawn opinions from opposite ends of the spectrum, to say the least. But with not much else happening in Lakerland, Ryan and I have decided to field some questions tonight about whatever you want to know about the purple and gold. Thank you to all of those who sent us questions on Twitter. Now without further ado, let’s do this.

Gary: You will see it very, very sparingly. It will completely depend on the matchups on the floor. For example, we won’t see Kobe guarding Zach Randolph and vice versa. In small-ball scenarios, though, I really like this idea. Kobe at the four with say D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Nick Young provides a ton of floor spacing for these guys to operate. But like I said, you need the other team to be small as well. Don’t expect to see Kobe at power forward very often.

Ryan:¬†I honestly do not think we will see Kobe playing PF very often. With Bass, Randle, and Kelly in the fold, and the Lakers’ being extremely thin at the SF position, I just don’t see any realistic scenarios where Kobe plays the 4. Maybe he’ll get a few minutes at the 4 here and there if the opposing team decides to go ridiculously small, but the whole thing seems a bit odd. Though I do like that Byron is willingly to at least experiment with it.

Gary:

PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Jordan Clarkson
SF: Kevin Durant
PF: LeBron James
C: Hassan Whiteside

Oh, you said realistic. My bad. There’s a number of scenarios that could play out next summer in a top-heavy free agent class, but just for the hell of it, we’ll go with Russell, Clarkson, Nicolas Batum, Julius Randle and Roy Hibbert.

Man, creating a starting lineup without Kobe in it just made me sad.

Ryan:

PG: D’Angelo Russell

SG: Jordan Clarkson

SF: Chandler Parsons

PF: Julius Randle or Steve Novak [Editor’s Note: We think/hope Ryan is kidding about Novak]

C: Roy Hibbert

 

Gary: He probably will not. Kobe, for the last several years, has a tendency to take defensive possessions off to preserve his energy for the offensive end. Plus, Bryant¬†will be in his twentieth season in the league. We simply cannot expect him to be able to defend elite perimeter players like those guys anymore. Besides, the LeBrons and Durants of the league get their numbers regardless of who is defending them. We’ll just have to hope Hibbert can pick up as much slack as possible by defending shots at the rim, while hopefully staying out of foul trouble in the process.

Ryan: He really can’t guard them, but that’s not really a knock against Kobe at all.¬†That’s like when people ask if a certain point guard will be able to guard Russell Westbrook or Stephen Curry. Nobody can guard those guys.

I’m more worried about Kobe¬†gambling too much on defense, or losing track of his man and giving up open shots than I am about him having to guard Durant or LeBron.

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Gary:¬†In Indiana last season, Hibbert averaged 39 total touches per game, which was lower than eight other players on the roster. That is without Paul George being in the mix. I would expect roughly the same amount to be his ceiling for this season. The Lakers offensive attack will be mostly on the perimeter, limiting Hibbert’s offensive role to simply attempting¬†to¬†finish off plays around the basket, with the occasional 12-15 foot midrange jumper, where he was surprisingly good last year.

His usage rate in each year of his career as been right around 20 percent, so I’d imagine it’ll either be around that number again, or drop just a bit. I would be surprised if it’s much higher than that in 2015-16.

He’ll get the occasional post-up as well, but he understands what his role is with the Lakers as a defensive anchor. Any offense he adds is just gravy.

Ryan:¬†If Hibbert did get 39 total touches per game last year as Gary said (I say “if” because you can’t trust what a person from Boise says), I think it will be very similar to what he will get with the Lakers.

I do think Hibbert will get fewer post-ups than he did in Indiana because the Lakers will have more shot-creators¬†than the Pacers had. But instead of post-ups, I think he’ll get a healthy diet of mid-range jumpers instead. I say this because Byron’s offense creates and emphasizes these shots, and also because Hibbert is quite good at making them for his position. ¬†The Lakers’ shot-creators¬†should also result in Hibbert getting more looks around the rim than he did in Indiana – whether they come by dump offs, pick-and-rolls, or through offensive rebounds and put-backs.

So essentially, I think he’ll get roughly the same amount of touches, but the manner in which they come will¬†be different. Which is for the better.

Gary: From everything that’s been reported, he¬†and the Lakers have some sort of verbal agreement on a deal, but nothing has been signed. I think the odds of him being a part of the team’s plans moving forward are very likely.

Personally, I think spending some time in the D-League would be good for him. It would give him a chance to improve his conditioning and work on his skill set in general, since he’s still a bit raw offensively. If he is on the roster this season, he probably won’t see the floor much with Hibbert and Tarik Black already slotted at center, along with¬†Robert “the GOAT” Sacre getting minutes here and there.

Ryan: Admittedly, I am a little nervous that the deal is not official yet. I’m very high on Upshaw and I’d hate to see the Lakers lose out on him. That being said, if¬†Upshaw is signed as expected, he is absolutely worthy of a roster spot. While he won’t make an impact in his rookie year since he is so unpolished, his defensive potential is something that’s hard to come by.¬†You HAVE to take a flier on a guy like that.

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Gary: Fun fact, Harrison prefers Whataburger over In-N-Out. So if you’d be so kind to report his account as spam, the world will be a much better place.

Once again, thank you to everyone who submitted questions for us to answer. We always appreciate feedback and interactions from our fans and followers. If you don’t already, follow us on Twitter and like our page on Facebook!

Ryan:¬†I think Boise is located somewhere in Siberia, but no one really cares anyway since all they do is harvest potatoes there. And the people from that place are some of the strangest people I’ve ever come across¬†(Gary is living proof of this).

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