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Kobe Bryant: The Ageless One

Matt Padavick |
April 12, 2013 | 1:37 p.m. PDT

Staff Writer


Kobe Bryant is going through a career renaissance at age 34. (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)
Kobe Bryant is going through a career renaissance at age 34. (Keith Allison/Creative Commons)
As the critics continue to chastise Kobe Bryant for being “selfish” and “not a team player”, he continues to show that he is still one of the best players in the league, even after 17 seasons. Kobe Bryant is averaging 27.3 points per game this season, which is arguably the best regular season by any 34-year-old ever. He is preceded only by Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant in the scoring department, both of whom are at least six years younger than Bryant. Let’s take a look back at what Kobe has done this season and what he needs to do in the playoffs.

What Kobe Has Done This Season:

On December 5, 2012, Kobe became the youngest player to score 30,000 career points in NBA history. He joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain as the only five players to reach this plateau. Not bad company to be in.

Against the Sacramento Kings on March 30, Kobe surpassed the great Wilt Chamberlain for fourth place on the all-time scoring list, trailing only Kareem, Malone and Jordan.

He recorded 10 consecutive games of 30 points or more, becoming the oldest player in NBA history to accomplish this feat. He put up two games of 40 points during this streak.

He has accumulated 26 30-point games and eight 40-point games with three games remaining.

He has 11 games of 10 or more assists, including two 14-assist games.

His season averages of 27.3, six and six make up his best stat line since the 2004-2005 season.

He is averaging 38.5 minutes per game, which is the fourth-highest in the NBA.

Does Kobe have enough in him to lead the Lakers to one more championship? (pic.chick14/Creative Commons)
Does Kobe have enough in him to lead the Lakers to one more championship? (pic.chick14/Creative Commons)
What Kobe Needs To Do:

Despite their poor regular season, it’s no secret that the Lakers’ goal, especially Kobe, is an NBA Championship. The Lakers may be the most feared eight-seed in NBA history. During the months of March and April, Kobe has been averaging 7.7 assists, and that needs to continue for the Lakers to even have a chance to advance. He attracts so much attention when he has the ball in his hands, which makes it easy for teammates to get open. At times, he forces up jump shots against multiple defenders and tries to dribble through crowds. This tendency needs to stop in order for the Lakers to make a run. 

The biggest key for the Lakers to have a successful playoff run is defensive intensity. He gets extremely lazy on the defensive end, constantly losing his defender by chasing the ball. He needs to make a commitment to team defense, not just on-the-ball defense. Bryant is a great defender when he puts in the effort, but he expends so much energy on the offensive end that he is prone to take breaks on the defensive side. 

Bryant also needs to defer to Dwight Howard at times. When he takes the ball one-on-one for an entire possession, his entire team is standing around watching. This stagnant offense makes it easy for the defense. If they get the ball into Dwight in the post, not only does he have the ability to score, but he can also kick it out for open shots or hit a cutter slashing through the lane when the double-team comes. The Lakers seem to run the offense through Dwight during the first half of games, but completely go away from him in the second half. Kobe starts to force up shots and the offense becomes stagnant again. Kobe has to keep his big man involved to keep him motivated on the defensive end. 

Rest, rest, rest. Staying healthy is the most important thing for Bryant and the Lakers. Kobe is one of the best in the league at taking care of his body and at his old age, he is going to need to continue that. With heavy minutes likely to continue in the playoffs, rest is Vino’s best friend.

Remember the Warriors beating the Mavs in 2007 and the Grizzlies beating the Spurs in 2011?It’s not unprecedented for an eight-seed to knock off a one-seed in the NBA Playoffs, and the Lakers may get lucky enough to take on those same Spurs. If Kobe can make these things happen and the Lakers can stay healthy, look out for L.A. to make some noise in the playoffs.

Reach Staff Writer Matt Padavick here or follow him on Twitter.



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