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Kobe Bryant.

Kobe Bryant thinks the L.A. Lakers are on the rise

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No matter what Kobe Bryant does now that his days on the hardwood are behind him, he will forever be associated with the L.A. Lakers.

In his final ever NBA game to close out one of the all-time great careers, Vino torched the Utah Jazz to record 60 points at the Staples Center and put the icing on top of his cemented legacy.

However, that game was a rare and unique bright spot during a torrid Lakers campaign. The Purple and Gold only managed 17 wins last season as they propped up the Western Conference in 15th place and they had the second-worst record in the NBA as a whole.

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Bryant is currently in the Philippines as part of Nike’s Mamba Mentality Tour, but that didn't stop him from taking some questions on how his beloved Lakers are looking heading into the summer, per Naveen Ganglani of Rappler.com.

“The Lakers are one of those really rare franchises that, even though they may go through down periods, they inevitably find themselves back in contention," Bryant said. "Luke (Walton) and (assistant coach) Brian Shaw and the staff and the young players that they have, have a tremendous amount of potential and I think they will get there.”

All three of D'Angelo Russell (20), Jordan Clarkson (24) and Julius Randle (21) showed at different points last season that they have the potential to make an impact on the league.

Miami Heat v Los Angeles Lakers

Russell absolutely blitzed the Brooklyn Nets to record a career-high 39 points and that was more than Magic Johnson or Kobe managed in their rookie campaigns.

Randle recorded his first ever career triple-double against the Denver Nuggets and he also produced 34 double-doubles in 81 games; the 14th most in the entire league.

Clarkson posted 15.5 points per game last term in a Lakers outfit that had the second-worst offensive efficiency in the league. They could only tally 102.49 points per 100 possessions, according to basketballreference.com, but Clarkson still found a way to be productive.

Larry Nance Jr has also shown glimpses of his upside with his presence on the boards and when you factor in the arrival of Duke small forward Brandon Ingram as the second overall pick in last week's NBA Draft, the Lakers are starting to blossom.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Los Angeles Lakers

However, last year was still disastrous by anyone's standards. Many have speculated that was because the organisation concentrated on giving Kobe his retirement tour rather than focusing on the development of the young stars at their disposal.

Of course, Byron Scott was the team's coach last season and he publicly criticised his young troops - Russell in particular - on several occasions.

Perhaps the old-school Scott wasn't the best fit for the direction the Lakers are heading in, but with the appointment of Luke Walton - the man who led the Golden State Warriors to a perfect 24-0 start last season - the storied franchise now has a man who can relate to the younger players and has been a member of staff behind one of the greatest offences in modern day basketball.

Should they land a credible star in free agency, the Lakers can think about the playoffs once more. Do you think Kobe's assertions are correct?

Topics:
D'Angelo Russell
LA Lakers
Pacific Division
Western Conference
NBA
Kobe Bryant
Julius Randle

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