Kobe Bryant Divorce: Effect on Lakers’ Season Will Be Overrated

The biggest story in the NBA last night was the impending divorce of Lakers star Kobe Bryant. Wife Vanessa filed for divorce from the former NBA MVP because (according to TMZ) of his infidelity.

Inevitably, one of the storylines of the 2011-12 season for the Lakers will now be the distraction of the divorce and the burden it places on Bryant in particular and the team in general. There’s no doubt that Bryant’s mental state will be a factor in L.A.’s performance, but it would be a mistake to assume that the divorce, in and of itself, is going to cost the Lakers a chance at a title run.

After all, Bryant is one of the few sure things on the L.A. roster right now, just eight days before the season opener. The 33-year-old guard isn’t the NBA’s best player anymore, but he’s still an outstanding scorer who’s capable of leading a playoff team and maybe even a title contender.

However, right now there’s ample reason to doubt whether the Lakers are a team capable of supporting Kobe’s hopes. The trade of Lamar Odom has left L.A. with an old roster and a short bench, not to mention placing enormous pressure on Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol to provide better support for Kobe.

Barring an 11th-hour trade (likely involving one of those frontcourt standouts), Los Angeles is left with an older, even worse version of the team that got obliterated by Dallas in last year’s playoffs. At this rate, they’ll be lucky to have home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, let alone reach the NBA Finals.

New coach Mike Brown is in for a long season in L.A. Although he’ll be answering plenty of questions about his star player’s divorce, it’s his star player’s supporting cast that will be the real culprit.

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