Does Kobe Bryant Need Carmelo Anthony To Succeed?
Caught up in all the hype of the Los Angeles Lakers possibly obtaining Carmelo Anthony and some point in the next couple of weeks through a trade with the Denver Nuggets is Kobe Bryant. With five rings to his name, the drive and the competitive fire to get a sixth, and a team around him that’s clearly capable of helping him along once the playoffs start, it must be a little frustrating to hear that the Lakers are considering bringing Carmelo into the fold.
Because the truth is that Kobe Bryant doesn’t need Carmelo Anthony. Just like Michael Jordan didn’t need Charles Barkley, Karl Malone or David Robinson to lead his team to the NBA Finals victories year-after-year, KB24 has proven that he’s above the tactics that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh used last summer when they converged on South Beach to play for the Miami Heat. He doesn’t need another superstar to play alongside him. He doesn’t need the added media circus that someone like ‘Melo commands.
And part of the reason he doesn’t need it is because the Lakers have done a nice job in recent years finding complimentary parts to play alongside him. I can already hear the most obvious argument against the argument I’m trying to make: “What about Pau Gasol? He’s a great player and Kobe couldn’t have won last year without him!” In the last few years, Gasol has transformed himself from a pretty good center to an elite player. But you have to remember that Gasol wasn’t the Gasol of today when he played for the Memphis Grizzlies. He was formidable and he certainly would have developed into a consistent All-Star, but he didn’t have a guy like Kobe playing with him to help take some of the pressure off him in the paint.
Adding ‘Melo into the mix is different. While Gasol—and guys like Lamar Odom and Derek Fisher—do need to take shots away from Kobe in order to be successful, ‘Melo would require the Lakers to completely revamp parts of their offense. For starters, ‘Melo would need to get a grasp of Phil Jackson‘s sometimes-confusing triangle offense on the fly and it’s likely that he might not be completely comfortable with it until the playoffs roll around—if at all this season. ‘Melo also needs touches, a lot of the same touches Kobe needs when he’s on the court. I have a feeling they’d find a happy medium—or, at least, they’d say they were able to find a happy medium—but neither would be completely comfortable with the arrangement.
The ‘Melo/Kobe experiment could also have a negative impact on the team moving forward. With Kobe working through the tailend of his career at this point, there would come a time when ‘Melo would need to take the reins and start leading the Lakers. Aging veteran or not, there’s a good chance Kobe wouldn’t allow that to happen on his watch—and the team could suffer as a result of it.
But the most important thing here is that Kobe has already shown that he can win an NBA championship with virtually the same exact team that he’s got around him today. Adding ‘Melo into the mix sounds like fun—if you’re a 13-year-old kid playing NBA 2K11—but it’s not necessarily something you need to do to win a championship if you’re the Lakers. At the end of the day, you need to let other teams try and catch up to you and get on your level.
Right now, the worst thing the Lakers can do is force the situation. If the right opportunity presents itself, they can move on it. But Kobe Bryant doesn’t need Carmelo Anthony to succeed. In fact, he might just be better off without him.