One step in that progression came this week when Lakers coach Byron Scott installed a new offensive set aimed at more ball movement and less isolation plays, the kind that Bryant has often made throughout his 20 seasons in purple and gold.
Scott called it the 31st offensive set in the team's overall scheme this season, and he said that he debated waiting until next season to implement it but ultimately decided there was no reason to wait.
"The more we can do it right now, the more comfortable our guys will get," Scott said Saturday after practice at the team's facility.
What's the purpose of the new set?
"Get more ball movement, get more player movement," Scott said. "I think we're one of the lowest teams in the league to get the ball moving from side to side, so I wanted to change that. I told them today, we're going to do it for the rest of the season. It's just something that I thought was needed, so we can get the ball moving from side to side, get more guys involved and also have better spacing."
Lakers rookie guard D'Angelo Russell, a gifted passer and the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 draft, called Scott's new scheme a "great set."
"I like it," Russell said. "I just feel like it was kind of new. It forces you to make basketball plays. Some of us aren't really good at making basketball plays when it matters."
So less isolation-type plays?
"Yeah," Russell said. "I feel like for players that are really iso-oriented, they won't really play their best in this type of set. It's forcing it to be kind of crowded when you just try to go one-on-one."
Scott explained that this specific set was something that was used with the team's young players during Summer League last year.
"I just didn't do it during the regular season when we started and I went to something else, and then I just came back to it," Scott said. "D'Angelo and Jordan [Clarkson] and Julius [Randle] and Larry [Nance and] Anthony [Brown], they're all pretty familiar with it. Our veteran guys, it's kind of new to them, but they've seen it before. Probably about 10 different teams in the league run it on a consistent basis. We're going to be one of those teams as well."
Scott also said that all his other sets have been in place for most of the entire season, save for this new one.
"I would say probably 20 of them have been intact since training camp and probably every 2-3 weeks I add a little wrinkle to each one," Scott said. "This is just something that most of our veterans haven't seen, but if you ask the veterans when I put it in, they all liked it. So it's just a matter of guys really just going through it a little bit more each and every day, and I'll add a little bit more each and every day as well."
The more experience the team has running the set, the better off they'll be moving forward, Russell said.
"It will help you prepare for next season so it won't be as foreign," Russell said. "We ran a little bit earlier in the season, but it kind of went away because we went away from it. Since we're sticking to it now, we can come back and know that it's something that we're used to."
Randle, a forward and the No. 7 overall pick in 2014, is a fan.
"I like it," the former Kentucky standout said. "It forces the floor to be spaced. It forces us to move the ball. We've got to keep working on it to get better."
Still, it would seem to be a challenge to install a new set this late in the season.
"It wasn't really that much of a challenge," Scott said. "The thing that I think we should be focusing on is the fact that the last six games, teams have been shooting 50 percent or better [from the floor against the Lakers]. It's not the offense. Let's get that straight right now. It's not the offense.
"It's the defensive end of the floor that we're having the biggest problem. That's something that we addressed today as well. Guys can say, well, we put a new offense in, which, like I just said, we didn't. We put a new set in. But the real question is, we've got to do a much better job on the defensive end."
The Lakers' have the league's worst defensive efficiency, allowing 109.5 points per 100 possessions.
Does Scott have a 31st set for defense that can help turn things around.
"No, I'm trying to get the first one, first," he said with a laugh. "I'm still working on that one."