LA Lakers Star Kobe Bryant Must Adjust Game to Compensate for Aging Body

Joshua SextonSenior Analyst IISeptember 5, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 26:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts from the bench at the end of the first quarter while taking on the New Orleans Hornets in Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 26, 2011 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, 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 Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Is he too old to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to another championship? Is he still considered one of the game’s elite players? Have the nagging injuries he has suffered the last couple of seasons finally caught up to him?

These are some of the questions currently surrounding Kobe Bryant.

The answers to these questions vary, depending on who you ask.

But as much as fans of Kobe may hate to admit it, unless he somehow finds the fountain of youth somewhere around Los Angeles, Kobe’s overall production is only going to decline going forward.

Not only is Kobe’s aging body an issue, he is also nursing nagging injuries suffered the last few seasons, whether it be his knee, finger or foot.

So, how can Kobe adjust to compensate for his aging body?  Let’s take a look.

Remember those nagging injuries I mentioned Kobe having to deal with the last couple of seasons? Given his competitiveness and penchant for playing through pain, he has missed very few games (a total of nine the last three seasons) in order to rest his ailing body parts.

The Lakers are obviously better with Kobe in the lineup and every game can be considered important, but one has to wonder if Kobe will be able to hold up without sitting out a game every now and then.

Would it suck for Kobe to sit out 10-15 games a season? Sure. But it’s better than him pushing his luck and having to miss a substantial chunk of the season.

It could be time for No. 24 to take a night off a couple of times a month, in order to prevent suffering a more serious injury or making a current one worse.

While Kobe has had plenty of help in the frontcourt, with the formidable trio of Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, he has been forced to do the majority of the scoring from the perimeter the last couple of seasons.

Kobe’s two best perimeter teammates are Ron Artest and Derek Fisher. Not exactly the types of players who are going to score a lot of points on a consistent basis.

While it’s somewhat out of Kobe’s hands, the team needs to look for a player who can consistently fill up the hoop from the outside, whether it’s a fellow starter, or a player who comes off the bench and provides instant offense.

It wouldn’t be fair to expect Kobe to provide the majority of the team’s perimeter scoring if he was in the prime of his career more or less at the end of it.  Which is all the more reason to hope the organization surrounds Kobe with the right players in the coming seasons.

Kobe has already showed his ability to compensate for his aging body the last few seasons by picking and choosing times to dominate the game, instead of going pedal to the metal for the entire game like he did when he was younger.

Kobe will have to continue to find ways to leave his mark on ball games without exerting himself too much or too often.

While we likely won’t notice any drastic drop off in Kobe’s production for a while, it could be sooner than everyone wants and expects, unless he continues to find ways to have an impact on the game while protecting his aging body at the same time.