Sportress of Blogitude

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

The Los Angeles Lakers stumbled out of the gate with a season-opening loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night. But Kobe Bryant believes it would be a mistake to underestimate the LeBron James-led squad.

The Lakers icon argues that the way in which the Lakers front office constructed the roster around James is a recipe for success, especially as it relates to countering a formidable Golden State Warriors lineup.

“The Lakers are going to surprise a lot of people,” Bryant told The Undefeated’s Jerry Bembry. “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.”

Even if Bryant is already talking about a potential Lakers-Warriors rivalry, James has scoffed at the notion that such a thing will exist anytime soon, understanding full well L.A. will have to go through growing pains before the team can truly be considered a contender in the loaded Western Conference, let alone match up with Golden State.

The Lakers’ shortcomings were on full display during Thursday’s 128-119 loss to the Blazers, with dreadful three-point shooting (0-for-15 to start the game) being among the most glaring. That said, getting the roster to gel will prove to be a true test as well. James, who scored a team-high 26 points, colorfully pointed out after the game is not “like instant oatmeal.”

All that said, Bryant, who to no surprise previously had great things to say about the acquisition of James, is certain the Lakers will be in the postseason come next spring.

“Oh, God, yes,” Bryant said of the Lakers being a playoff squad. “C’mon.”