Young guards D'Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson started alongside one another in the backcourt for the Los Angeles Lakers Las Vegas Summer League team, but some were worried that one of the two would have to come off of the bench during the regular season, given that there is a certain Hall of Fame shooting guard set to return to the Lakers' lineup in the fall.
According to NBA.com's David Aldridge, that worry is unfounded, because Lakers head coach Byron Scott "sees Bryant playing more small forward next season." In addition to the Lakers young backcourt needing reps alongside each other, such a move also makes sense in order to save the older Bryant's legs as he ages and begins to lose some of his quickness. A similar shift down in position has helped some other aging veterans in recent years. For example, Paul Pierce shifting from small forward to power forward helped him play his most effective basketball of the year in the playoffs last season for the Washington Wizards.
Scott envisions a similar invigorating effect for Bryant:
"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."
The Lakers are short on wing depth, with their only other small forward options on the roster being second round rookie Anthony Brown and Nick Young after the departure of Wesley Johnson in free agency, so Bryant moving primarily to the three is partially necessitated by their depth chart as well.
Whatever the reasons, watching the Lakers' most notable guard of the last 19-years start alongside the hoped for backcourt of the future should be a fun sight for fans of the purple and gold.