It’s official: Kobe Bryant has retired after an illustrious 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers. Bryant has matured into a household name over the years but the 37-year-old has now decided to hang up his sneakers and concentrate on his life away from the sport.
The Lakers will always have a special relationship with Bryant and it’s an affinity that is shared across the NBA. However, they must turn their attention towards the future. In Bryant’s absence, there are plenty of young stars waiting in the wings. Here are a few who could blossom into the new face of Los Angeles in the coming years.
“Kobe Bryant” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Keith Allison
Like Bryant, Brown is a small forward and he may be the man to step up in the legend’s absence next season. The Stanford product hasn’t had much game-time since the Lakers drafted him in the second round of the 2014 draft but he remains a potential star for the future. With an average of 2.4 rebounds per game, he’s competent in defense and has already proven his worth on offense throughout the campaign when called upon. Obviously he can never replace Kobe directly but Brown is gifted and could mature into a regular player given time. He’s certainly going to get more game-time next season.
The second overall pick from the 2015 NBA Draft stands a good chance of maturing into a top talent, particularly if he stays with the Los Angeles Lakers for quite some time. The Ohio State star has already developed into a regular starter and is living the dream at just 20 years old. On current form, he has the potential to blossom into an exceptional point guard and could lead the Lakers back to the big time. It’s been rumored that the Los Angeles Clippers, who are at the time of writing at 28/1 in the odds to win the Championship in the play-off betting markets, are interested in a potential move but they might have to give a lot up in order to persuade the Lakers to part ways with one of the top rookies in the business.
“D’Angelo Russell” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Keith Allison
But their most impressive youngster has to be Randle. The point forward arrived in Los Angeles and was immediately under pressure after the Lakers selected him with the seventh overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. As of April 14th, he’s been a key component of the team and may relish the opportunity to showcase his talent without Bryant. He has been an ever-present this season, averaging 11.3 points per game – which isn’t bad for an inconsistent Lakers outfit. Both Russell and Randle have been overlooked due to Los Angeles’ overall record but the Lakers could be in business if they step up to the plate.