The Los Angeles Lakers are getting closer to the regular season and fans are wondering about the most recent news and rumors.
Check out the latest buzz below.
Bryant Ranked 40th Best in NBA
ESPN has been slowly rolling out rankings for nearly every NBA player, and says Kobe Bryant is 40th.
Among those ranked higher than Bryant–LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Chris Paul.
There are also some surprising inclusions in the top 40, such as Goran Dragic, Andre Iguodala, and DeAndre Jordan.
Lin the the Laker ranked the next-highest, at 100. Carlos Boozer is 137, Julius Randle is 149, and Nick Young is 150.
Young responded to the ranking on Twitter, saying: “I don’t care there not a 149 ppl better then me in this league #ESPNHigh.”
Bryant was ranked 25th last season, dropping from 6th a season prior.
Bryant told ESPN that he’s not motivated by the ranking. “I’ve known for a long time [that] they’re a bunch of idiots,” Bryant said Thursday after the Lakers’ 119-86 preseason loss to the Utah Jazz.
“Honestly, all jokes aside,” Bryant said, shedding his smile, “it really doesn’t bother me too much. I’m going to do what I do regardless. God willing, I can stay healthy, and if I wind up proving a lot of people wrong in the process, that will just wind up being collateral damage.”
Meanwhile, gambling website Bovada says that Bryant is the 11th most likely player to win MVP, coming in with 30-1 odds.
James is first with 5/6 odds, Durant is second at 4-1, and Blake Griffin is third at 12-1. Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, and Carmelo Anthony are ahead of Bryant.
Randle is slated as the fourth-best favorite to win rookie of the year.
Ellington Inspired by Kobe
New Lakers addition Wayne Ellington says that he’s inspired by Bryant’s work ethic.
That’s tough to (explain). You don’t get to see everything that he does, because he does a lot of stuff on his own as well. We’re not around for it. You just kind of take after that,” Ellington told Lakers reporter Mike Trudell.
“You look at him and you say, ‘Well, if one of the best players to ever do this — a Hall of Famer, five-time champion — is still continuing to work this hard every day, what am I doing? Why am I not? If he’s going this hard and I’m nowhere near on that level, then I should be going just as hard or harder.’
“So that’s the kind of mind frame it puts me in.”
Ellington says that he’s asked Kobe for advice about footwork, and defense.
“He shows me a lot of footwork stuff. He shows me a lot of stuff on the defensive end of the floor, (defensive) footwork as well. Being able to guard guys better in the post. He showed me some things (about) even posting up; little things like how to take advantage of the way guys are guarding you,” he said.
“Just as far as the way you use your arm bar when you’re guarding a guy in the post. So when a guy has you like that, you turn around and you face him up fast. You’re looking at his feet. Depending on how his feet are faced, give him an up-fake maybe.
“If one foot comes up just a little bit, you attack it right away. Or if he stays back, you’ve got the step-back jump shot. It’s crazy to be able to see how he thinks the game while he’s playing it. And he’s not just out there just playing. He’s reading guys, reading the way guys are playing, reading the total defense.”
Jazz rout defenseless Lakers, 119-86
ANAHEIM, Calif.—Gordon Hayward scored 16 points to lead a balanced offense and the Utah Jazz beat the Los Angeles Lakers 119-86 in a preseason game Thursday night.
Kobe Bryant had 27 points on 10 for 23 in 28 minutes for the Lakers (1-3). Carlos Boozer scored 17 points and Jordan Hill finished with 12 points and 14 rebounds.
Los Angeles played without 40-year-old Steve Nash after he hurt his back carrying bags on Wednesday at his Manhattan Beach home. Ronnie Price filled took his place and had eight points in 27 minutes.
The Jazz outscored the Lakers by six points while Bryant was on the court.
Utah led 56-35 at halftime and the Lakers got no closer than 17 the rest of the way. Jack Cooley’s layup extended the Jazz’s lead to 101-71 with 7:22 remaining.
Nash and Lin Miss Thursday’s Game
Both Steve Nash and Jeremy Lin missed Thursday’s game with injuries.
Nash missed his third straight practice on Wednesday after injuring his back while carrying bags.
Coach Byron Scott said Nash “heard a twinge” in his back, and the coach suspected it was a back spasm. The Lakers don’t know how long the two-time NBA MVP will be out of action.
Lin also has a sprained ankle, and the point guard told the L.A. Daily News that he’ll miss the preseason game against the Utah Jazz.
That likely thrusts NBA veteran guard Ronnie Price into the Lakers’ starting lineup, since rookie Jordan Clarkson is also out with an injury.
The 40-year-old Nash only played 15 games last season due to injuries. He’s in the last year of his contract.
“It’s a concern,” Scott said. “I have to figure out if he will play every day or not or play every other game. How many games can he play and which games can he play? In the next couple of weeks, we have some time to come to a conclusion how we will handle this situation.”
The Lakers knew Nash might have injury troubles, which is why they acquired Lin and Clarkson. Both of them should be back soon, with Scott recently conceding that Lin will likely start while Nash will come off the bench.
“You don’t want to feel you’re stepping on anyone’s toes,” Lin said. “But he’s a professional. I try my best to be as well.”