How Many Games Played Would Be a Good Season for Kobe Bryant?

Maxwell OgdenCorrespondent IIIOctober 25, 2012

FRESNO, CA - OCTOBER 07:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers controls the ball against the Golden State Warriors at Save Mart Center At Fresno State on October 7, 2012 in Fresno, California.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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According to a report via Ramona Shelburne and Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant is currently sidelined with a foot injury. The injury occurred when Bryant tripped over rookie Thomas Robinson in the third quarter of the Lakers' 99-92 preseason loss to the Sacramento Kings.

As a result, Bryant will miss the Lakers' final preseason game and may be sidelined for the regular season opener.

I don't know if he'll be ready, [Lakers head coach Mike] Brown said after the Lakers' 97-91 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday. So yeah, I guess there is question. I'm just going to wait for [Lakers trainer] Gary Vitti to tell me he can play, because there's nothing I can do about it until they release him anyway.

Chances are, this injury won't have as severe an impact on Bryant as most have projected. Even if he misses a few games throughout the regular season, Bryant has proven to be one of the most competitive warriors in NBA history.

Fighting through injuries is routine for The Black Mamba. The question is, how many games should Kobe Bryant be subjected to playing?


Discovering the Proper Balance

There is no greater task for Mike Brown in 2012 than finding the proper balance of rest and playing time for one Kobe Bean Bryant. Although this appears to be an easy task considering Bryant's will to fight, it is not.

An improper treatment of this situation could be severely detrimental to the Lakers' title chances.

Clearly the postseason is all that matters for Bryant and company. Such a fact suggests that rest would be beneficial for the 16-year veteran, as he prepares for the long stretch of fighting through a deep Western Conference.

With that being said, resting Bryant too often during the regular season could lead to his lacking the necessary momentum or energy to thrive come the postseason. There isn't much time to get this one right.

There also isn't much room for error.


82 Games an Impossibility?

In 2011, Kobe Bryant played all 82 games of the regular season and an additional 10 in the postseason. This came after after Bryant played 201 games in the span of the two prior seasons, making it to and winning the NBA championship in both 2009 and 2010.

As a result, Bryant attempted less shots, 18.6, scored less points, 22.8, than he had in any season since 2000. This led to the Lakers being swept for the first time since 1999.

All who claim Bryant should shoot less can now walk away in shame.

What is most important to note is that Bryant also played his least postseason minutes, averaging 35.4, since 1998. The wear and tear of an 82 game season can take its toll on anyone, even an all-time great.

What this suggests is that Bryant would benefit from resting at some point in the regular season. Although he will fight to play all 48 minutes in all 82 games, Kobe needs to see his games played number sit somewhere between to 70 and 75.

Rare one-game absences could be what saves Bryant's energy enough to take over the 2013 NBA postseason as we know he is capable of. After all, Kobe did just spend his offseason playing for Team USA at the London Olympics.

Rest is critical.


70-to-75 Regular Season Appearances

The last time Kobe Bryant played between 70 and 75 games was 2010, when he appeared in 73 regular-season contests. Later that year, Bryant led the Los Angeles Lakers to an NBA championship.

Worth trying again? I believe so.

Without Bryant in the lineup, the Lakers remain an elite regular season team. Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol can pace this offense to 100 points a night on their own.

Howard and Metta World Peace, meanwhile, can anchor a top 10 defense. They cannot anchor a title winner on their own, however, and that is why Bryant must be healthy.

With a solid roster that can maintain a winning pace, Bryant now has to rest.

For instance, the Lakers play seven out of their first nine December games on the road. That road trip ends with a return home for a battle with the Charlotte Bobcats on December 18, only for the team's next game to be at the in-state rival Golden State Warriors on December 22.

Sitting Bryant out for the Bobcats game prepares Bryant for a run in which the Lakers play the New York Knicks, Denver Nuggets, Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Clippers.

It also provides Bryant with six-day rest should he take the Bobcats' game off after a December 16 showdown with the Sixers.

Allow Bryant time to rest and heal his body. In turn, you will be preparing him for the most important games of the regular and postseason.

You will also be assuring yourself of the return of the Kobe that has made the postseason his to own. Don't believe me? Check the history.

With one more NBA title and 347 postseason points, Kobe Bryant would tie Michael Jordan. The postseason is his to own.