After having his season cut short by a torn rotator cuff in 2014-15, Kobe Bryant has reportedly been medically cleared for all basketball activities. Bryant completed an extensive rehabilitation process in order to get back on the court in time for the start of training camp, which is less than two weeks away.
The past three seasons have seen Bryant sidelined by injury, leading many to wonder just how much his wear and tear his body can tolerate as he enters his 20th NBA season.
There is no question that his minutes will need to be trimmed down at the very least. Last season head coach Byron Scott relied on Bryant perhaps too heavily by having him log 34.5 minutes per game, just two minutes below his career average. In those minutes, he did manage to tally 22.3 points, 5.6 assists and 5.7 rebounds per game, but shot a dismal 37.3 percent from the field, including 29.3 percent from beyond the three-point line.
One thing to keep a close eye on this season will be Bryant’s role with a young Lakers roster. He is expected to slide over to the starting small forward spot to make room for Jordan Clarkson and No. 2 overall pick, D’Angelo Russell in the backcourt.
In what could be — and probably is — Bryant’s final season, it will be important for him to stay healthy to not only relieve some on-court pressure for the young players, but also to share his knowledge and mentor them. Thus far, he has been very receptive of what the Lakers have asked of him lately, which is good news for the future of the franchise.
The beginning of what could be a bittersweet final season for Bryant starts on September 29 when the team opens up training camp in Hawaii, while the team’s first preseason game against the Utah Jazz will be on October 4.