Two weeks of Summer League basketball, with the NBA otherwise dormant, poses an irresistible temptation to many to reach conclusions and make pronouncements about what is and what forever shall be about the game and the players we’re watching in the 2012 Olympics.
Such as: Carmelo Anthony has turned a corner in his personal aggrandizement, er, development and will transfer his newfound teamy-ness to the New York Knicks. Or: Kobe Bryant is done.
Ahem. Bryant is not done. Not at all. He hasn’t played well in this international tournament (averaging 11.2 points on 40 percent shooting in 15.7 minutes per game). He doesn’t appear to be the same player who starred for Team USA in 2008. But his step back is due as much to LeBron James‘ step up, and Bryant surely has lots left to give the Los Angeles Lakers this season, especially with the jumper cables provided by newcomer Steve Nash.
Any concerns about Nash and Bryant co-existing have been dashed in the only ways possible until actual on-court play begins: Statistically and anecdotally. The numbers-crunching as done by NBA.com’s John Schuhmann is awfully compelling. And so are the predictions and reviews from those in London familiar with both men’s games, as compiled by Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic.
“It’s going to be interesting to see how they co-exist, him and Kobe,” said Spurs guard Tony Parker, who plays for France. “But I’m not worried (for the Lakers), because Steve loves to pass, and I’m sure loves to have Kobe on his side.”
Question is, can Bryant live without the ball in his hands? Or will they co-op, with Nash occasionally serving as the spot-up shooter while Bryant creates?
Either way, the LA story is going to be among the bigger ones in the NBA: Can Nash propel Bryant back to the top, over both James and Durant?
“I think Steve is going to have a big impact,” said former Suns forward Boris Diaw, also playing for France. “Whatever he is doing, wherever he is going, he is always getting his teammates better. He’s going to have already very good teammates (in Los Angeles), so it’s tough to make them better. But he’ll find a way.”
Mostly Bryant sounds committed to the idea, and we know how he is when he sets his mind to something. “He’s the setup man,” Bryant said in London. “He’s the orchestrator. He’s going to make everyone’s life a little easier.”
Nash has talked of Bryant’s support for the move, and how “genuine and excited” the Lakers shooting guard was. If nothing else, it plants on the L.A. roster someone older than Bryant, who can face more of the age questions.