In a recent interview, LeBron James has indicated that he believes, despite Kobe Bryant's recent predisposition toward sharing the basketball, it is all a facade. James said he believes that at Bryant's core, he is a scorer and that this facilitation phase is a passing trend.
Although James may be right, Bryant will have to prove James wrong if he hopes to lead his Los Angeles Lakers back to the playoffs.
There is no doubt that in his prime, being a scorer was the most effective way for Bryant to lead his team to a successful playoff run.
However, with a supporting cast that can't establish cohesion and chemistry, Bryant must be the facilitator and mediator between his teammates in order for the team to make any sort of regular-season push.
Of course, being the primary facilitator still means Bryant has to score when the occasion calls for it.
Elite point guards like Tony Parker and Chris Paul have found a balance between distribution and scoring. While Parker is more of a scoring point guard and Paul is more of a creator, there is no doubt that they can switch between the two roles in a manner that most benefits their respective teams.
However, both Parker and Paul have the benefit of playing with supporting casts that can consistently generate offense.
Bryant has to find that scoring and facilitating balance balance in order for the Lakers to thrive during the entirety of a 48-minute game. Although Bryant's passing may lead to more opportunities for his less-talented squadmates during the first three quarters, Bryant needs to retain his clutch gene down the stretch.
In fact, during the last 10 games when Bryant has collected at least eight assists, the Lakers have won seven. During those seven wins, Bryant has scored in double-digits in all but one.
Although it's hard to ask Bryant to continue being a facilitator given the lack of complementary scorers on the roster, the only way the Lakers are going to succeed is if Bryant creates opportunities for his supporting cast.
Perhaps this is the main issue that has made it hard for James to believe that Bryant is truly a facilitator. The best facilitators, such as LeBron himself, are able to create opportunities for players around them and help them play better than they actually are.
Not only does Bryant need to prove that he is capable of doing this to James, he needs to prove it in order for the Lakers to make the playoffs with a roster that is loaded with aging veterans, injured superstars and an egotistical center.