Why L.A. Lakers Should Seriously Consider Moving Kobe Bryant to Small Forward
However, it is blatantly obvious that the Lakers' biggest issue at the moment is creating a cohesive rotation that will take full advantage of the talent on their roster.
On paper, the most obvious starting line up should be the most effective as well. Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, and Dwight Howard should start, because they are all the best players at their respective positions on the team.
Unfortunately, with the delayed debut of Dwight Howard and the continual degradation of Metta World Peace's offensive and, to an extent, defensive ablities, the Lakers may need to shake it up in order to be fully efficient.
One possible starting line up could shift Kobe Bryant to the SF position, Metta World Peace to the bench, and Jodie Meeks to the starting lineup.
To be clear, this roster shake up should only be in effect while Dwight Howard rehabs his injury. Once he is able to return, there is no doubt that Kobe Bryant should be playing the shooting guard position.
Keep in mind, lineups and rotations are flexible for a reason. Thus, at any time, Metta World Peace could be inserted back into the starting lineup.
The main reason for this is a need for a solid bench. With Jodie Meeks starting at shooting guard, Pau Gasol filling in for Dwight Howard at center and Antawn Jamison starting at power forward while Howard is out, the Lakers need Metta World Peace to anchor the second unit, like he has been doing for a major segments of the past few seasons.
A concern for this pre-Howard rotation could be that the second unit lacks offense, which has been a problem for the Lakers since Odom's departure. However, if a player like Jordan Hill starts in Howard's place at power forward while Pau shifts to center, having both Antawn Jamison and World Peace coming off the bench could keep the second unit more competitive on offense.
Plus, when Howard returns, there's no need for an adjustment, as Jordan Hill won't get a huge share of minutes anyway, while Antawn Jamison would be used to his bench role. The one adjustment would be shifting Jodie Meeks back to the bench and Metta World Peace back to the starting line up, which would be a welcome change for World Peace in any event.
There are some drawbacks to this rotation that could make life a little difficult, but could further team chemistry as well.
As an average to undersized player at the small forward position, Kobe Bryant won't be able to post up as much and be as physically dominant as he is over the smaller shooting guards in the league.
There is no doubt that Kobe Bryant is one of the premier perimeter defenders in the league; as a small forward, he'll have to double his effort on the defensive end to contain bigger and more physical small forwards.
With Kobe more preoccupied on the defensive end, he will not be able to allocate all of his focus to the offense. This will allow Steve Nash to orchestrate the offense, utilizing all the other weapons on the court and building team chemistry in the early going.
Of course, when a big time talent like LeBron James or Kevin Durant goes up against the Lakers, Kobe Bryant can shift back to shooting guard so that bigger players like Metta World Peace can attempt to cover the much bigger small forwards.
Kobe Bryant is arguably the best offensive player in the NBA, though Kevin Durant and LeBron James are favorites for the spot as well. Thus, he is often guarded by the best defenders of every team. He has vast experience scoring on bigger, stronger guards, and this change to small forward should not hinder his ability to score.
The only reason Kobe's scoring efficiency should drop is from the stronger defensive effort it would take him to guard players of a different position.
However, against the majority of the small forwards, Kobe's defensive savvy should keep him competitive defensively against his matchups.
This temporary position change for Kobe Bryant will bolster the progressive team chemistry in the early going and that's the second reason the Lakers should consider this line up move.
By developing younger players like Jodie Meeks by giving them more playing time, they'll grow more comfortable in the system. Furthermore, Kobe Bryant's possible reduction in shots as a result of more effort being spent guarding bigger small forwards could allow for a more cohesive offense before clutch time.
Of course, during the clutch moments of the game, there is no doubt that the ball will still fall into Kobe's hands.
Kobe Bryant switching to small forward is definitely a move to consider during Dwight Howard's absence due to injury. However, once Howard returns, a starting line up of Nash, Bryant, World Peace, Gasol, and Howard has the potential to be the most dangerous, versatile force in the NBA.
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