Can Kobe make transition to small forward for Lakers? 'I can do that'

With the emergence of Jordan Clarkson and the potential of rookie D'Angelo Russell, the Los Angeles Lakers have their backcourt set for the future. The Lakers lineup of Russell and Clarkson looks promising, but it does force Kobe Bryant to play at small forward, which is not his usual position. However, Bryant sees no problem shifting from the shooting guard position.

From a Los Angeles Times profile on the retiring Lakers’ head trainer Gary Vitti:

Vitti is often an emissary between players and management. He recently met up with Bryant, with whom he shares a longtime bond.

"He was asking about our young kids, and I said, 'You cannot believe how quick and athletic Jordan Clarkson is. He looks fantastic,'" Vitti said. "I said I personally thought D'Angelo Russell is going to be a star. He makes hard things look easy when he has the ball in his hands.

"Then Kobe said to me, 'Well, then who's going to play [small forward]?' I looked at him and I said, 'You.' And with absolute, 100% confidence, he said, 'I can do that.'"

Playing at small forward shouldn't be a challenge for Bryant from a size and skill standpoint -- he matches up well with other small forwards. Just like the Golden State Warriors showed during the NBA Finals, teams are now more willing to play their five best players, regardless of position. Also, it would be beneficial for the Lakers to have a lineup with Bryant at the three since Clarkson and Russell should play with each other at every opportunity so they can develop a bond playing together.

The only real question about Bryant is if his body will hold up for another season. His last three seasons ended in injury, and with him turning 37 soon, his body is clearly showing signs of slowing down. It isn't surprising that Bryant is ready for another challenge next season. We'll just see if his body is up for the challenge. But this is something Bryant is well aware because after all, he isn't Benjamin Button.


Kobe Bryant is ready for another challenge next season.
Kobe Bryant is ready for another challenge next season. (USATSI)
CBS Sports Writer

Ananth Pandian has been writing about all NBA-related things including the social and lifestyle aspect of the sport for CBS Sports since 2015. His name is actually easy to pronounce, just remember it is... Full Bio

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