Kobe Bryant has not had the strong start he and fans of the Los Angeles Lakers had hoped for to start the 2015-16 NBA season. Averaging 16.5 points on just 32% shooting with 2.7 assists and 1.5 turnovers, Bryant has played far below his own standards, even admitting "I freaking suck."
This sub par start to the season has not stopped the 37-year old from hoping to get one last chance to represent his country among the best players in the world this summer when Team USA heads to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to defend their gold medal from the 2012 London games. "It would mean the world to me to be around those guys," Bryant told Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press.
Could the mightily struggling future Hall of Famer help Team USA? "How I feel now is that I feel like I can add value from a leadership perspective and a defensive perspective," Bryant told Reynolds of how he believes he can aid Team USA. "I can still move extremely well defensively."
If Bryant can still move "extremely well defensively," it has yet to show for the current Lakers, who are ranked second to last in the NBA in defensive rating (allowing 108.4 points per 100 possessions*, equivalent to facing the third ranked offense in the league every night). The Lakers are even worse during Bryant's floor time, allowing 112.3 points per 100 possessions, which is actually better than the league leading Golden State Warriors (111.3) are allowing every night.
If Kobe wants a spot on Team USA, his contributions to their gold medals in 2008 and 2012 that helped turn around the program probably still warrant a legacy spot. It would also be nice to get to see Kobe contribute to a winning team one last time before (most likely) hanging up his sneakers for good.
All stats per NBA.com