Los Angeles Lakers legendary guard Kobe Bryant will be on the floor in the preseason opener as a key cog in developing early chemistry with a revamped LA roster.
Bryant has been in the news recently with a right foot injury, but he will play against the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night according to a report by ESPNLosAngeles.com's Ramona Shelburne.
Also mentioned in Shelburne's report is that superstar center Dwight Howard isn't likely to make his LA debut. Head coach Mike Brown will likely start one of the Lakers rookies at the position.
Lakers.com reporter Mike Trudell explains the rationale behind Brown's decision more specifically:
Expect 1 o/t 2 reserve rookie centers (Sacre or Somogyi) to start for Dwight. Brown wants to keep bench rotation as is (Hill, Jamison etc).
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) October 6, 2012
Robert Sacre was drafted out of Gonzaga with the team's second-round pick, but he is most likely a developmental prospect who won't make the final roster. Greg Somogyi is gigantic at 7'3", but his odds of making the team are even longer as an undrafted free agent.
This is a savvy lineup strategy for Brown. Not only will it give both youngsters a chance to showcase their abilities with Bryant on the floor, but it will keep forward Pau Gasol at his natural position, and the rest of the rotation intact as well.
More notably, though, starting point guard Steve Nash will be able to get a feel for how Bryant plays very early on in game situations.
The starters will likely only play for one half, maybe slightly more, but Bryant is a tone-setter defensively. With nine All-NBA first team selections, it's important that Bryant is on the floor to instill Brown's defensive philosophy to the new players. That's especially true in the case of Nash, who is considered a liability on that end of the floor.
Golden State isn't a team that will come out playing a stagnant, half-court brand of basketball. The pace of their offense hasn't slowed too much under second-year coach Mark Jackson, and their additions in the draft and free agency provide more scoring help.
According to Marcus Thompson II of the Oakland Tribune, stud guard Stephen Curry may not play, but his backup Jarrett Jack has proven himself to be a viable scorer from the point guard position.
The Lakers' matchup against the Warriors is ideal for Bryant to establish early rapport with his new teammates. Their interstate rival will provide a stiff test for LA on the defensive end, but they have a reputation for allowing a flurry of points.
Brown is known for leaving the offense in the hands of his assistants and star players, which happened in Cleveland with LeBron James and has happened in LA.
The health of Bryant will be key for Nash to determine how he'll control what should be a more explosive offense in 2012-13. It wouldn't be devastating if Bryant were held out of the lineup to start the preseason, but his presence will benefit everyone on the court.