Kobe Bryant’s Absence Will Benefit Lakers Later in Season

The Los Angeles Lakers will be a much better team when shooting guard Kobe Bryant makes his highly anticipated return to the court, but not just because of the superstar's presence.

Head coach Mike D'Antoni is having to juggle minutes and shuffle the lineup to figure out which rotations work best, which will benefit the squad as it bids for a 2013-14 NBA playoff spot.

Although the start to the current campaign hasn't been spectacular, Los Angeles could have done a lot worse than 3-4 in the first seven games.

An uncommonly balanced scoring effort and some savvy coaching are helping the Lakers get it done, even as the team flounders on the defensive end by giving up 105.6 points per game.

Eight Lakers are averaging 8.7 points per game or more, but none are higher than leading scorer Jodie Meeks, who is putting up 12.3 points on 49 percent shooting and over 48 percent from beyond the arc.

Star center Pau Gasol is struggling from the field early on, but he is being complemented well by the perimeter players around him, along with fellow big man Chris Kaman.

Seven members of this squad average more than 22 minutes per game, and that doesn't include Kaman, Jordan Hill or Shawne Williams, who is at the low end of the 11-man rotation, playing 13.6 minutes per contest.

That balanced scoring has been an antidote of sorts for Bryant's usual production, but the Black Mamba will most help with his elite perimeter defending ability.

Until then, the rotation is a constant work in progress, but one that is already netting promising returns.

The malleability of their personnel is a testament to the effectiveness of D'Antoni's offense and a strong showing of how a good shooting night can keep the team competitive with anyone thanks to the relentless, attacking style.

As reported by Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles...

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