The Los Angeles Lakers will continue their rebuilding efforts with the No. 2 overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. Some qualities the team will consider when making this pick is how well the player can hold up against the harsh media environment of L.A., how high is the his upside and whether or not he can be a building block for a long-term contender. One thing the Lakers will not consider is how well he fits with Kobe Bryant.
"He's never been great with rookies," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said of Bryant via the Daily News. "Rookies have come to expect Kobe's glare, Kobe is ignoring him in the locker room and saying things."
Bryant is not afraid to speak his mind and it has led to some highly publicized clashes with teammates such as Shaquille O'Neal and Dwight Howard. The grace and control Bryant exhibits on the court rarely extends to the media room, where the five-time NBA champion has publicly belittled players like Smush Parker and Kwame Brown and even lobbied to trade Andrew Bynum.
However, that's not to say that Bryant is always throwing his teammates under the bus. Over the course of their 13 seasons together, Bryant consistently lauded the efforts of Derek Fisher and spoke at length about his importance to the team. When Pau Gasol's name was batted around trade rumors like a ping pong ball, it was Bryant who spoke up for him to the media. Even Kupchak acknowledges that some "rookies do need to go through" Bryant's cycle of tough love.
"He's going to be in their ear and they should want to learn from him," coach Byron Scott said. "There's no better guy to have than to have him teach what this league is all about and what type of work ethic they'll need to have hopefully get near his level."
Kentucky's Karl Anthony-Towns is the presumed favorite to go No. 1 overall in the draft. That leave's Duke center Jahlil Okafor, Ohio State point guard D'Angelo Russell and point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, who played professionally in China this past year, as the likely options at No. 2. Regardless of who the Lakers pick, Bryant's opinions will not be taken into account. While he remains an important part of the Lakers, the franchise is more concerned with building a team for the future.
"We're not going to pick a player because he can play with Kobe, likes Kobe or dislikes Kobe, Kupchak said to the Los Angeles News Group. "We're going to pick the player that can have the longest and best career."