Fortunately for them, he could be ready to do so pretty soon.
At the 8:30 mark of a video shot during a promotional tour in the Philippines, Bryant expressed that his Achilles tendon is healing well:
This is not the first time he has stated that the rehab process is going along well. While traveling in Shenzhen, China, Bryant said that he and his medical team have “shattered” the normal timetable for recovery, per NBA.com’s Jonathan Hartzell:
The normal timetable for recovery from an Achilles, we’ve shattered that. Three-and-a-half months I can already walk just fine, I’m lifting weights with the Achilles just fine and that’s different. So we don’t know what that timetable is going to be. It’s kind of new territory for us all.
Certainly, hearing Kobe repeatedly say that he is ahead of schedule has to be music to Lakers fans’ ears, for in order to crack the top eight of the Western Conference, the Lakers will need Bryant’s presence as early as possible.
Without question, Bryant is the engine that makes the Lakers go. When Bryant ruptured his Achilles during the final minutes of the team’s contest against the Golden State Warriors in April, Bryant got up and made two free throws before leaving the game.
His go-getter mentality and never-phased-by-the-moment approach to the game are fine examples for his teammates. Without that, what would the Lakers do?
Yes, Steve Nash is one of the best floor generals and leaders to ever step on an NBA court; however, he cannot force a teammate to step up and perform when needed like Bryant can, for the fear of disappointing him moves a player to up his game at the right time.
In addition, it’s no secret that without Bryant, the Lakers’ offensive attack would suffer mightily.
According to Basketball-Reference.com, the Lakers scored 7.0 less points per 100 possessions when Bryant was not on the court.
Likewise, having Bryant on the floor forces defenders to pay close attention to every move he makes, which in turn lessens the defensive pressure applied to the other players on the court.
Really, to get a clue of how huge Bryant’s absence would be, one does not have to look any further than the thrashing the Lakers received during their first round matchup against the San Antonio Spurs in the 2013 playoffs. Simply put, it would be an extremely hard road to travel without him.
The Lakers cannot survive without Bryant leading the way.
In a conference that features the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Clippers, coming out of the 2013-14 regular season with a playoff berth will be a task that will require all men on deck to be primed and ready prior to the start of the season for any shot at achieving such.
Nonetheless, if anyone can come back and lead a team toward success, it’s Kobe.