Kobe Bryant has already found motivation for next season as he continues to recover from the torn Achilles tendon that ended his season in 2012. After returning from his annual tour of Asia on Monday night, Bryant noticed that ESPN has predicted his Los Angeles Lakers will finish 12th in the NBA’s Western division next season.
Around three hours after returning from his tour of both China and the Philippines, Kobe Bryant Tweeted “12th I see..”
ESPN sees a 36-46 record for the perennial contenders, despite the return of Kobe Bryant. The sports giant must believe that the losses incurred by the Lakers this offseason will be too much for them to overcome. Losing players such as Dwight Howard to the Rockets must trump the return of a 35 year old prolific scorer who is coming back from a major injury.
The Lakers top three players this season, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and Pao Gasol are all well into their 30s. Age isn’t everything, as Bryant has proven throughout his career, avoiding the drop off in play that comes with reaching the twilight of a career for many athletes. In a league that is almost entirely getting younger, the Lakers are the old man on the block.
If able to remain healthy, these Lakers probably have the ability to finish better than 12th. Probably not a title contender, they have the ability to put together a nice season and surprise many by making the playoffs. It’s the Lakers after all, how strange would it be if they actually finished as poorly as predicted.
A 12th place finish would shock Lakers Nation, who conducted a poll in which 84 percent of voters felt Kobe Bryant and company would finish better than their ESPN prediction.
Kobe’s recovery is going well in his mind, “my tendon feels really, really good. I was really lucky,” he said earlier this week. If he is able to go he is still one of the best players in the NBA and could easily carry his team to the playoffs. After all, his Lakers have missed the playoffs just once since he came into the league in 1996. Kobe and the Lakers have five NBA titles in that time.
Follow me on Twitter @CharlieGille
Senior Sports Editor
The Guardian Express