What to Expect from Kobe Bryant’s Return to the Los Angeles Lakers

It must be 2013 if Kobe Bryant is announcing his return to the Los Angeles Lakers via Facebook.

Kobe will come back Sunday against the Toronto Raptors after missing 19 games. Now the question is: How effective will he be? 

Bryant ruptured his Achilles tendon against the Golden State Warriors on April 12, 2013. It's a significant but not uncommon injury. The tendon itself is very stressed and, given the physical demands of the NBA game—plus Bryant's age (35) and health history—this isn't uncommon.

Other players, such as Elton Brand, Chauncey Billups and both Wilkins brothers* have returned from similar injuries. We've also seen advances in both the surgery and the rehab techniques used, which is causing more positive outcomes and shorter rehabs. 

*Having both Dominique and Gerald Wilkins suffering Achilles ruptures is fascinating from an injury standpoint. While it's easy to assume some genetic proclivity or weakness, it's impossible to say for certain since the mechanisms of injury and their skill sets were different.

The Lakers are hanging their hopes on some of these new advances helping them escape past results. Research done by Kevin Pelton in 2012 shows a decidedly negative outcome for returning players. Billups returned last season after the injury and has had a number of other minor issues that have kept him out, but there's no evidence that he'll return to his previous production.

The age comparison is certainly worrisome. 

However, the Dominique Wilkins comparison makes more sense. While Kobe's all-around play puts him above even a Hall of Famer like Wilkins, their physicality and skills are closer than any of the others.

While Bryant is older and has more years in the league than Wilkins did at the time of his injury, Wilkins showed that it's possible. Not only is there veteran savvy, but there's more of a margin of error. Ei...

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