Monday 24th June 2024,
The Hoop Doctors

Byron Scott Thinks Kobe Will Play Some Power Forward Next Season…Seriously

Kobe Bryant Byron Scott

Kobe Bryant will retire as a shooting guard. Next season, though, he’ll probably log most of his minutes at small forward. Some of his minutes might even come at the 4, too.

Wait, what?

The Lakers just have too many damn guards. Players will have to, well, play bigger than they stand. That’s the only way to balance this logjam of Jordan Clarkson, D’Angelo Russell, Lou Williams, Nick Young and Kobe. (Related: And the Lakers wanted to add Ty Lawson to this mess????????)

As such, coach Byron Scott, not one for running small lineups, plans to play the 6’6″, soon-to-be 37-year-old Kobe at small forward.

Per’s David Aldridge:

Russell played alongside second-year guard Jordan Clarkson for long stretches, a hint of what Scott plans to do next season.

Scott sees Russell, Clarkson and newly signed Lou Williams composing the Lakers’ new three-guard rotation. And he sees Bryant playing more small forward next season.

“If we don’t get another guard, then Kobe’s in that mix,” Scott said. “I’m kind of going through those scenarios. But not necessarily as far as who’s starting and who doesn’t … I think (Bryant) will play more three than two. If we can get him at the elbows and at the mid-post, the more effective he’ll be. I don’t think he needs to be using up the whole 94-foot floor. If we can cut that down some, I think that saves his legs as much as possible. But if we can get him where he operates best, which to me is elbows on each area, top of the key, at the pinch post, at the mid-post, then I think he can be real effective for us.”

It’s definitely refreshing to see the Lakers valuing offensive versatility. The logic behind signing Williams with Young already in tow is debatable, but Kobe can certainly play small forward for stretches at a time, theoretically increasing the Lakers’ offensive options, mostly because a Clarkson-Russell backcourt will be trouble for opposing defenses.

Still, Kobe has appeared in just 41 games over the last two seasons, and just six of those came in 2014-15. Scott, though, continues to speak of Kobe and his versatility as if he’s 25 years old.

Asking him to spend some time at small forward is one thing. Expecting him to be a full-time 3, as the Lakers’ roster may demand, is another.

Wondering if he can get by at power forward, even if only for a hot minute, is batshit crazy and confusing and awesome all at the same.

And, as it turns out, Scott sees Kobe as a spot-minutes 4 next season:

Kobe can play one, two and three. There’s no doubt in my mind. And there’s some games. against some teams, where he’ll probably play four. With his tenaciousness, the way he guards people and when his mind is set, if I say ‘Kobe, you’ve got him,’ he takes that as a challenge. You know how he is. He’ll compete.”

If you’re like me, you can’t stop reading the “he’ll probably play four” line. It’s gold and, at the very least, proves the Lakers aren’t chaining themselves to some outdated lineup rituals where you have two lumbering bigs clogging the paint and blocking pathways to the basket.

But can Kobe, at his age, with his health bill murky as ever, actually play the 4, even if only briefly?

The Lakers, it seems, plan on finding out.

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