Who Will Be LA Lakers’ X-Factor This Season?

Kobe Bryant, or more specifically, Kobe Bryant's Achilles tendon, will be the X-factor for the Los Angeles Lakers this season. If the Black Mamba can stay healthy and fresh enough for him to be a force, then the Lakers will have a fighting chance at being a force in the playoffs.

Still receiving treatment on his right knee, as Dave McMenamin of ESPN reports, Bryant's overall health is very much in question for a Lakers team that has lost its two best defenders in Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace. 

Even if Bryant returns without as much athleticism or strength, there are things he can do that no other player on this roster can. 


Scoring in the Clutch

According to statistics compiled by NBA.com, Kobe Bryant was one of the most clutch players in the league last season. 

Despite playing at age 34 last year, his age did little to diminish his will and his killer instincts throughout a game and during clutch time. These are intangibles that won't go away with age or fleeting athleticism. 

Even if Bryant has to coast through an entire game or rest during back-to-backs, he can still be relied on to close out games for a team that lacks any other closer. 

Consider the other stars on the team. Steve Nash and Pau Gasol are the other two players who could be considered reliable options down the stretch.

While Nash has exceptionally high shooting percentages for his career and has proven himself in the clutch, his fading athleticism and fragile body make him more of a spot-up shooter.

Although he did show flashes of the passing ability that made him a two-time MVP, Nash relied more on making the right passes and shooting open jumpers than really creating opportunities for his teammates. 

This may be attributed to injuries and an inconsistent system. However, at this point in his ...

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