Kobe says the Lakers are going to ‘surprise a lot of people’

Kobe Bryant thinks that the Los Angeles Lakers are going to surprise a lot of people this season.

“The Lakers are going to surprise a lot of people,” Bryant said, via the Undefeated. “Rob [Pelinka, the Lakers’ general manager], has smartly built a team of physical players. Big, versatile, fast, physical players. He understands that if you want to challenge Golden State, you can’t challenge them with shooting. That’s what they do.

You’ve got to beat them somewhere else. You have to beat them with size. Chippiness. Feistiness. Strength and speed. And he has a team that has that. He has a mixture of vets that are still in their primes and young kids that are hungry and open-minded and willing to learn. A team that can compete and challenge. That is a dangerous mix.”

When asked if the Lakers were a playoff team this season, Bryant didn’t hesitate.

“Oh, God, yes,” Bryant said. “C’mon.”

Bryant thinks that the lack of one-dimensional players is a good thing for the Lakers.

“I think they’re building the team smartly,” Bryant said of the Lakers in a recent interview with ExtraTV. “They’re building strong, physical players that play the game with pace and are basketball players. What I mean by that is, they don’t have players that are one-dimensional.”

Bryant thinks that the versatility of the Lakers as currently constructed could help them to challenge the defending champion Golden State Warriors moving forward.

“They have players that can handle the ball, shoot the ball, pass the ball, defend the ball,” Bryant said. “So when you’re building a team with that kind of versatility and physicality, that’s something that can challenge Golden State. ‘Cause you can’t beat Golden State by playing Golden State–style. That’s just not going to happen.”

One of the main reasons for Bryant’s confidence in the Lakers is the presence of LeBron James on the roster – an offseason addition that Bryant helped to facilitate.

“I’ll tell you, when [Lakers owner] Jeanie Buss came to me and said, ‘I really want to go after [LeBron],’ I said, ‘Jeanie, he’s not coming here until you clean up this s— here,'” Bryant said. “The last thing LeBron wants to do is come to an organization that has a lot of infighting, a lot of the stuff going on. I said, ‘Jeanie, it’s time for you to take ownership of this franchise. He’s not going to come if you don’t.’”

The verdict is still out on exactly how good the 2018-19 iteration of the Lakers will be, but one thing is for sure: there hasn’t been this much excitement entering a season for the Lakers since Kobe himself was suiting up.