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Kobe Bryant still needs to pace himself during 2011-2012 season

November 27, 2011 |  9:30 am

Kobe Bryant

The prolonged NBA lockout may have granted Kobe Bryant some extra rest. But that doesn't mean he won't need any during the shortened 2011-2012 season. 

Bryant received an innovative procedure on his surgically repaired right knee, and teammate accounts suggest the Lakers star appears healthy. But that doesn't mean Bryant's immune from future injuries. 

Bryant remains a stubborn and determined force, willing to find any nuance or edge to maintain dominance. But that doesn't mean he won't continue facing his physical decline. 

The Lakers' star isn't done. He has the goods and a healthier body to put together an MVP-caliber season. For Bryant to reach that point, however, Coach Mike Brown must decide how he should play Bryant in the 2011-2012 campaign without seriously compromising his body.

It remains unclear if Bryant will prove healthy enough to engage in full practices, something he missed the past two seasons. That's why Bryant still needs to limit his minutes similar to the 33.9 he averaged last season. It remains unclear if Bryant's rest and procedure can help restore the explosiveness he once had. That's why he still needs to act selectively with attacking the basket. It remains unclear if Bryant has enough stamina to carry the Lakers on his own. That's why he needs to ensure through his leadership and facilitating that he has the supporting cast he needs.   

Yup, there's plenty of uncertainty Bryant faces despite physyically benefitting from a prolonged offseason. But that only makes one thing clearer. To what degree Bryant manages and paces his body will largely dictate whether his 2011-2012 season becomes worthy of any footnote attached to his storied 16-year career. 


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-- Mark Medina

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Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant took a measured approach during the 2010-2011 season because of his injuries. Credit: Mark D. Smith / US Presswire