Kobe Bryant: No longer elite, but still a star
Kobe Bryant hasn’t played a lot in the past few seasons with various injuries, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a star.
Bryant was ranked 93 in ESPN’s #NBArank for players in the upcoming 2015- 2016 season and is ranked behindplayers such as Clippers’ shooting guard J.J. Redick and Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic.
#NBArank is decided by a panel of experts who are shown a pair of players and must choose who will have a better 2015-2016 season.
The panel got this one wrong.
If Bryant is sidelined again this season he would be worse than those players, but if Kobe plays he is certainly better than the 93rd best player in the league.
Bryant may not be able to dunk as well or jump as high, but he has a lot of different moves that enables him to score. His iconic fadeaway and smooth jumper will still allow him to score at least 17 points per game, which is better than Redick and Mirotic.
Most of Bryant’s critics say he never passes the ball, but he averages 4.8 assists for his career, which is better than a lot of shooting guards. He is currently 30th on the all time assists lists for the NBA and is only behind four non-point guards: Lebron James, Clyde Drexler, Scottie Pippen and Jerry West.
While some aspects of his game will worsen with age and injury, his passing ability shouldn’t.
Age may affect his defense, but he is a twelve time all- defensive team selection and should still be at least an above average defender.
Another reason why Bryant will be better than the 93rd best player in the NBA this season? He has a lot more help than he did in limited action last season in 35 games.
The Lakers picked point guard D’Angelo Russell with the second pick in the 2015 NBA draft. Russell will be able to penetrate and kick to Bryant or vice versa. Last season they had to start second round draft pick Jordan Clarkson at point guard, who showed flashes of being good, but was a last resort to start for the Lakers.
Power forward Julius Randle got hurt in the first game of the season last year and missed the entire season. He has looked good in the preseason thus far and has a rapport with Bryant. Bryant will be able to run pick and rolls with Randle, which will make both players look solid.
Roy Hibbert is the Lakers’ new Center. Although he has struggled offensively the last season and a half he is stilla good defensive center, who is an upgrade over former Laker center Jordan Hill. Hibbert can defend the rim and help out the Lakers on the boards.
The depth is also better for the Lakers as they have guards Lou Williams and Clarkson, rookie forward Larry Nance and Center Robert Sacre who will get some minutes for the Lakers. These players will be able to give Bryant more rest and will help the Lakers be successful.
Bryant will not be on the All- NBA first team, but he will be a good player for the Lakers if he can remain healthy.