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Is Kobe Bryant a Top 3 Player in the NBA?

“The reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated.” – Kobe Bryant circa last week, er, Mark Twain

Ok Kobe – you’ve cleared it up for all of us (or at least the folks over at ESPN). You are not the 7th best player in the NBA. Now feel free to start passing the ball again to the most dominant twin towers in the NBA. If you decide not to, expect the following to happen:

  1. Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol will continue to give subpar efforts in silent protest for not getting the ball (along with the occasional passive aggressive remark during postgame interviews)
  2. When your teammates are needed on rare occasions (e.g., you are out of the game or are double teamed in the corner), they will lack the confidence and “flow” required to be efficient on offense.
  3. The Laker defense will continue to soften as the lack of an inside-out game will provide your opponent with more fast break opportunities resulting from Kobe leaving his man to cherrypick on offense.
  4. The Los Angeles media will eventually come around to despising Mike Brown’s reliance on iso formations – an offense that Cleveland fans had become so familiar with.
  5. You will hit your inevitable midseason lull, as the toll of dragging your team along night after night wears on your 33 year old body.
  6. The Lakers will consequently finish with a 3 or 4 seed, lose homecourt after the 1st round of the playoffs, and in all likelihood be bounced out by the Thunder or the Clippers.

But, since you’ve already proven that you were vastly underestimated coming into this season, we can avoid all of the above, can’t we? If you’re still not sure, let me help break down your place among your peers in today’s NBA.

First off, you are NOT the best player in the NBA. That title belongs to Lebron James (and has for the last year or two). Playoff brain freezes aside, Lebron has consistently been one of the most unique, dominant forces that has been seen in NBA history. If Magic was Oscar Robertson 2.0 and Kobe was Michael Jordan 2.0, Lebron is just Lebron 1.0. A combination of sheer strength, speed, passing, scoring, rebounding, defense and charismatic leadership that has never been seen before in basketball. Even in reviewing his incredible self destructive tendencies against the Mavericks and Celtics in previous playoff series, his resume in the clutch still stands up against the best of them. So let’s start the discussion here.

The race for the second best player in the NBA, and beyond, is a battle between a handful of current players: Kobe, Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose, and Dirk Nowitzki - all of whom are superstars in their own right, at varying stages of their careers. To begin the analysis, we took a look at relevant player statistics for the beginning of this year (including Lebron). Since there has been a small sample size for 2012, we also included both basic and advanced statistics for the 2010-11 season. All statistics were normalized to achieve averages over 36 minutes.

 

2011-2012 (per 36 minutes)

G

PPG

RPG

APG

TOPG

SPG

BPG

TS%

WS%

PER

Kobe Bryant

14

30.5

5.7

5.1

3.7

1.2

0.4

0.551

18.6%

28

LeBron James

11

28.4

7.9

7.1

3.8

1.9

0.7

0.633

26.4%

33.7

Dwyane Wade

9

20.1

4.4

5.6

3.3

2.1

1.7

0.49

8.9%

19.9

Dwight Howard

11

19.5

14.5

2.2

2.9

1.5

2.1

0.567

16.4%

26

Kevin Durant

13

26.2

6.9

3.4

3.6

1

1.2

0.61

16.2%

27.1

Derrick Rose

13

20.8

3.4

8.5

3.1

0.9

0.5

0.555

20.0%

23.6

Dirk Nowitzki

13

21.2

6.3

3

1.9

1.1

0.6

0.556

12.3%

21.2

2010-11 (per 36 minutes)

G

PPG

RPG

APG

TOPG

SPG

BPG

TS%

WS%

PER

Kobe Bryant

82

26.9

5.4

5

3.1

1.3

0.2

0.548

12.6%

23.9

LeBron James

79

24.8

7.9

7.1

3.3

1.5

0.6

0.594

19.7%

27.3

Dwyane Wade

76

24.7

6.2

4.4

3

1.4

1.1

0.581

16.8%

25.6

Dwight Howard

78

21.9

13.5

1.3

3.4

1.3

2.3

    0.616

18.5%

26

Kevin Durant

78

25.6

6.3

2.5

2.6

1

0.9

0.589

15.4%

23.6

Derrick Rose

81

24.1

3.9

7.4

3.3

1

0.6

0.55

16.2%

23.5

Dirk Nowitzki

73

24.2

7.4

2.7

2

0.5

0.7

0.612

15.2%

23.4

 

From a statistical standpoint, Lebron appears a cut above the rest, leading in both time periods in PER, with an amazing 33.7 PER and 63.3 True Shooting Percentage (TS%). While his scoring average was down in 2010-11 (primarily due to his split sharing duties with Dwyane Wade), he was the only player on the list to average above 7 assists and 7 rebounds. This would seem to reaffirm the previous claim regarding Lebron as the best in the NBA.

The three lowest PERs in 2010-11 were Dirk Nowitzki, Derrick Rose, and Kevin Durant. These players all had lower PERs than Kobe in 2010-11 as well as 2011-12. Additionally, each of these players have had serious flaws in their own right. Derrick Rose, as amazing as he has been in his short career (and leaving aside the fact he stole another MVP from Lebron last year), is limited as a 6’3” point guard with average outside shooting ability. Additionally, he is only in his 4th season and has had little playoff exposure at the highest levels (though last year was a good start). Nowitzki had a legendary playoff performance last season, but his PER, WS% and lack of rebounding at the power forward position suggest an offensive minded player who has had limitations on defense. Additionally, his game seems to have deteriorated post-championship, averaging a very modest 21/6/3.

Kevin Durant is the most interesting of this group. Consistently heralded as the “next” best player in the game, Durant’s game has grown leaps and bounds over the last 2 years, propelling the Thunder into the pole position within the Western Conference.  His points are also coming much more efficiently than in past years, with a TS% of 61.2% in 2011-12. At this stage of his career, Durant is more athletic, is a better defender, and is a better 3 point shooter than Kobe. However, he has still yet to show he has the ability to put a team on his back in the playoffs and perform consistently at the highest level, shooting a miserable 42% in a playoff career, including 37% from the field in the last 3 games against the Mavericks in last year’s Conference Finals (all of which the Thunder lost). In the case of Durant, as well as Rose and Nowitzki, the facts evidence Kobe’s statistical superiority along with those players’ own individual flaws, placing them below the Mamba on the list of today’s greatest players.

That leaves us with Dwight Howard and Dwyane Wade. Howard was dominant in last season’s campaign, the best defensive player in the NBA, a strong MVP candidate, also averaged 22 points per game, with the 2nd highest win shares, and higher PER than Kobe. Ultimately however, and this cannot be understated, as long as Howard fails to be a go to player in the 4th quarter, he cannot be considered better than Bryant (the exception being, if his offensive game develops into a state of Shaq-like dominance). A corollary to this is Howard’s inconsistency in delivering reliable offensive performances night in and night out. Through just 11 games this season, Howard has had offensive outputs of 5, 11, and 13 points, while shooting a cumulative 54% from the free throw line. These are major holes for an alpha dog who is being relied upon to carry his team to a championship.

And then there was one. D-Wade.

Who is the better player today between Wade and Kobe? In truth, I believe this is pretty close to a toss up, but we must pick one. Wade is the only player on this list whose clutch performances and playoff achievements stack up with Kobe’s. Lebron’s failures in last year’s Finals only served to accentuate Wade’s heroics. In addition, Wade is a 5 cat fantasy basketball player: the only guard to average over 1 block and 1 steal per game during the time periods reviewed above. Additionally, he bested Kobe in most advanced statistics, including PER and TS% last year. However, with ankle troubles in 2011-12, Wade’s stats look merely mortal, with the lowest PER, TS%, and WS% of the group. A look at Kobe’s stats reveal some flaws as well. In 2010-11, Kobe had the lowest WS% of the group as well as the lowest TS%. Both players have valid explanations however. Kobe began last year on a tear and was slowed down by knees that gave out on him. Similarly, Wade has not been able to play up to his usual standards of excellence.

Still, at the end of the day, there is one player who has to carry his team day in and day out. It is difficult to pick D-Wade over Kobe as long as he remains second banana on the Heat (an argument made by The NBA Realist last year). As Pau Gasol has found, it is often much easier to be no. 2 than no. 1. Kobe’s performance thus far this year also remind us of a killer instinct and desire to be great that is unparalleled in the NBA. In this tiebreaker, Kobe wins, and therefore, earns his place as the 2nd best player in today’s game.

So there you have it, Kobe Bean. You remain one of the top 3 players in the game today (and #2 by my evaluation). You can return to playing at a level of intensity that does not imply a huge chip on your shoulder. Chances of that happening? As long as he’s not ranked #1 (and even then), probably never.

 

Related posts:

  1. Kobe Bryant vs Dwyane Wade: Who’s the Odd Man Out for 1st Team All-NBA?
  2. Did Kobe Bryant Quit in the 2006 Western Conference 1st Round Game 7 vs. The Phoenix Suns?
  3. J.M. Poulard: Is Kobe Bryant’s Reputation Undeserved (8/30/11)
  4. Is Kevin Durant Too Nice To Be An Elite Player?
  5. Which Current NBA Player Would You Draft First?

Discussion

51 Responses to “Is Kobe Bryant a Top 3 Player in the NBA?”

  1. mamba,

    I had made a post stating essentially those same points regarding Kobe’s seeming attitude to show the world that he not only reads what others say, but that he feels obligated to react to it.

    Kobe could really benefit with some words of Wisdom from John Wooden.

    You may also note that Kobe is on an 82 game pace for 2055 FGA and 316 turnovers.

    That FGA rate is the third highest in the past 30 seasons topped by only MJ in 1986-87 and Kobe himself in 2005-06.

    Does Kobe really want a repeat of how that season ended?

    Does Kobe, with all the effort he puts into reading and concerning himself with what others have to say, not understand that he is regarded as a top 5, 10, or 15 player of all time?

    Does he not realize that returning to the mindless gunner will not elevate him any higher, but only add fuel to his detractors?

    It will be interesting to see what happens when Kobe’s FG% begins to drop to closer to 41% than to 45%

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 16, 2012, 8:56 am
  2. Thanks for the comment Paulie. Yes, the biggest issue I see with Kobe’s recent performance is that it’s very short sighted in nature. Even if the Lakers lock up wins in the near term (they are 5-1 in their last 6 games), their style has been akin to a firm who decides to maximize this year’s profits by not investing in future growth.

    By not allowing Bynum, Gasol, and company to participate, Kobe is making the Lakers more predictable over the long term and also taking away the confidence needed by his teammates when the going gets tough.

    Laker fans can only hope that Kobe will come to this conclusion as well and begin including his teammates again.

    Posted by Brown Mamba | January 16, 2012, 9:38 am
  3. Presently, Kobe is averaging the same number (within 1)of FGA per game as Gasol and Bynum combined.

    This dynamic combined with Mike Brown do not bode well for the Lakers

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 16, 2012, 9:52 am
  4. As someone who, you know, actually watches and pays attention to Laker games, the “mindless gunner” paradigm people have in mind imagining recent Kobe is exaggerated. Assisting at as many per game since 02-03 and rebounding pretty well too, not to mention shooting around 50% FG while Pau and Bynum continue to underperform due to overexhaustion from a compact schedule and unfamiliarity with the new Brown offense may not be sustainable, but for the short run it appears to have worked.

    That said, I think Wade is better. He is a better defender, more athletic, moves better off the ball, and gets fouled more. Though he has a bad habit of getting injured a lot and is not as good a perimeter shooter as Kobe.

    Posted by Acehigh | January 16, 2012, 1:32 pm
    • Acehigh — yes, I agree with you that most people simply take the easy way out and decry Kobe’s shot selection/etc. (and if you’ll note, I don’t mention anywhere that Kobe’s shot selection has been poor during this current stretch).

      That being said, even if passing it to Paul or Bynum in the near term is not the immediate best thing for the Lakers, I think it’s in the Lakers’ long term best interests to keep those guys involved and feeling good about the offense. You can tell right now from their body language over the last few games that they are a bit disconnected.

      Regarding Wade — yes he is more athletic. I’m not sure he’s a better on ball defender than Kobe (though he rotates and plays the seams better). I don’t believe his will to win to be as good, and his injury threshhold is certainly lower.

      Posted by Brown Mamba | January 16, 2012, 2:09 pm
    • well, wade is in no way better than kobe bryant, not even close. Kobe is certainly a better defender, he has been named defensive player of the year multiple times. He is tied with michael jordan for the most nba all defensive team honors. He does not move better off the ball, not to mention kobe bryants basketball i.q. is unbelievable. his understanding for the game is on a whole different level than dwyane wade. don’t forget Kobe has 5 championships and is considered one of the greatest winners and creates clutch players of all time. kobe is 4 years older than wade that is the only reason wade is more athletic. in kobes more youthful years he was just as athletic as wade if not more athletic. If dwyane wade is better why is kobe considered one of the greatest players of all time and wade isn’t?

      Posted by Michael | February 22, 2012, 4:52 pm
  5. Kobe’s early season heroics are necessary for the Lakers to even be competitive. He’s proving a point, yes, but the players around him just aren’t capable of doing what’s necessary to keep them in games. Watching the Phoenix game last week, in the 1st the Lakers ran the offense, moved the ball around effectively and ultimately watched open shot after open shot clang off the rim. On the other end, Phoenix made a few shots and were up 9 before you knew it. Mike Brown calls time out and before you know it, Kobe reels off a run that gets the Lakers back into the game. This run provided momentum that put the Lakers up 12 early in the 2nd. While Kobe was out this lead would dwindle. Another big run in the 4th would open up the game again to put the Suns away.

    I think Kobe’s game is tailored to provide an attack mechanism for the Lakers. The problem is he’s the only player capable of doing so. Pau and Bynum just don’t have the motors to attack consistently at Kobe’s pace. Howard would be a good, no GREAT compliment to Kobe’s game because they could feed off of one another.

    As far as where Kobe stands in the top player’s list. I say

    Lebron #1 – he just seems too comfortable to deal with adversity when it comes

    Kobe #2 and Durant #3. Kobe wills himself to go on these dominant streaks. It’s uncanny how he’s able to pull it off. The question is how long can he sustain it? My guess is as long as his body is able to move up and down the floor effectively. This could change depending on how this season goes. If Durant elevates his game, I think the Thunder have the West (as presently constituted) this season.

    I honestly think we may have seen the best of D-Wade. His game is really dynamic, but I think the toll is too much on his body at this point. He’ll have to adapt his game and he’s certainly capable.

    Posted by J.T. | January 16, 2012, 4:18 pm
  6. The one misnomer is Kobe hasn’t stated if he would keep doing this for a long time. Rather the reason why he does it is to show Dwight Howard he still has it. Making every nitpicking of him doing it right now, a moot point.

    Posted by DODOO | January 16, 2012, 8:01 pm
    • Dodoo — will slightly disagree with this theory. If Kobe really wanted to get Howard to LA in my opinion, he would be making Bynum look as good as possible (which will eventually force Orlando to come back to the table with a straight up Howard for Bynum trade offer)

      Posted by Brown Mamba | January 16, 2012, 8:32 pm
      • That’s two prong. Kobe also leads the team with assists with 82, as of Monday vs the Mavericks, and would have more if open man, Kapono, Steve Blake, Fisher, Barnes, Metta – hit his perimeter shots. The second closest guy is Pau Gasol with 32 – he is the guy making Bynum look good offensively, this is a direct result of the team running a variable-2-man game with Bynum.

        The thing is really, Kobe can’t do both, show he still has a scorer’s touch- that he can be Kobe, and average 6+ assists while Bynum is having an off-night. Barnes is having a good stretch, Gasol is going 9-16, and Kobe is going 15-31 against Cleveland. The Lakers have a natural size advantage which should be exploited. But Bynum wasn’t afforded being the scoring option eventhough he was highly efficient.

        Something has to give with this team, and one being they don’t have a good backcourt.

        I am sure Bynum, Mitch Kupchack, Kobe will look to getting Bynum more involved as we get closer to February, but Bynum is playing well on his own to merit a straight up trade, I don’t see any team really stepping up to the plate, and really they shouldn’t to assert a position to get Dwight Howard, specially with Orlando powerplaying and trying to gain whatever leverage they can get. The Angels were not public in their attempt of getting Pujols, so every team mentioned will have to bite more time and really wait until mid February to get serious with Orlando, everything til then, is Kobe and Mitch Kupchak trying to make the Lakers as appealing as possible. Kobe wants to make sure Dwight has a good playing partner. Until the Lakers get a better point guard to distribute the assists with Kobe, look for Kobe and Gasol to continue the trend.

        Posted by DODOO | January 17, 2012, 12:44 pm
        • you realize that Kobe has reached 6.0 assists per game once in his career, right?

          The statement that Kobe can’t get to 6+ assists is a given, since he has never topped that figure. Even with Shaq, though he was a much more effective shooter with Shaq.

          Posted by Paulie Walnuts | January 17, 2012, 1:40 pm
          • On and off certain games this past season. He would go for 7 one night 4-6 the next. Impressive so far, but this team has little offense going for them, the reason why you can’t really put the blame on Kobe shooting too much.

            Posted by DODOO | January 17, 2012, 4:56 pm
          • You realize Kobe is a shooting guard right? Yet he still has led his team in assist for the past decade.

            Posted by Sportswriter | January 18, 2012, 7:54 am
  7. Good thing or bad thing: Shaq just agreed with me on TNT postgame, ranking Lebron, Kobe, and Wade in that order as best players in the league.

    Considering he followed that by saying Bynum was the best center in the NBA, I think I’ll just throw his entire comment out.

    Posted by Brown Mamba | January 16, 2012, 10:36 pm
  8. KOBE is the best player in the league now and maybe ever. I would say he as just as good as Jordan.

    Posted by ethan | January 16, 2012, 10:38 pm
    • have you actually watched michael’s game? go watch them and then be humbled

      Posted by karlo | January 17, 2012, 6:46 am
    • Skill wise? Perhaps. He may overall be better than MJ.

      Athletically and physically wise? No. MJ was stronger, more athletic and had bigger hands.

      Basketball IQ wise (which amongst others translates into shot selection)? He is also not on the same level.

      Clutch wise? Kobe loses. Yes, he hit more game-winners, but he missed waaay more. Especially when you compare the two in the playoffs. MJ is much better.

      Overall if Kobe played smarter he could be close to Jordan, but still MJ athleticism would make him better than Kobe.

      I understand you’re a fan of Kobe and that’s OK, but if you look at the facts, you won’t be able to deny them.

      Posted by Doosiolek | January 17, 2012, 7:10 am
      • Michael was a better shooter from 10 ft, Kobe is more trigger happy from deep (*better perimeter shooter), and Jordan has more of an edge athletically speaking, had a sick leaping ability, so something had to give in, but Kobe is as good as MJ was, if you look at it. Kobe should look to score from 10, to be more efficient and kick out to get his shooters in a rhythm.

        Posted by DODOO | January 17, 2012, 12:48 pm
  9. Dear brown mamba,

    Did you let out a sigh Kobe went for 7/22 good riddance.

    Posted by nimble | January 17, 2012, 3:09 am
  10. There are several factors to be taken into account when determining who is a better player.

    Obviously there is skill (I bet all of us understand it a bit differently). Skill wise Kobe is the best player in the NBA right now and has been for a long time.

    There is athleticism and your overall physical abilities. Kobe is good in that regard, but he is nowhere near LeBron or even Wade for that matter.

    Health is also a very important factor. I mean Wade may be better than let’s say Joe Johnson, but so what if he’s not always there to help his team? Kobe proved to be very tough although I remember games where he hurt his team by being stubborn enough to play through various injuries and still be a gunner.

    And there is also something you may call “playing smart”. To me, Kobe doesn’t play smart. You yourself pointed it out in this article. So what if you’re the best, but because of your bad decisions on the court your team is not winning?

    So yeah, I agree LeBron is the best player right now, but I don’t agree that Kobe is second.

    I’d say Kobe has the potential to be even better than LeBron if he played wiser. Jacking up shot after shot is not playing wise.

    With this in mind I would say Durant is OVERALL better than Kobe.

    This still makes Kobe 3rd best player which is still remarkable given Kobe’s age.

    Posted by Doosiolek | January 17, 2012, 7:34 am
    • Every Laker fan will tell you, 100% Kobe would be a better player if he managed his abilities by getting his guys in rhythm offensively. Michael Jordan offset his 3pt weakness by going inside, then kicking out, Kobe doesn’t really have to, or want to, because he can hit the 3.

      He was always a reliable from deep, so it’s a blessing and a curse.

      Posted by DODOO | January 17, 2012, 12:51 pm
    • Doosielek — I wouldn’t underestimate Kobe’s basketball IQ. It is one of the highest in the league. If you follow him closely, you’ll note that he tends to pick his spots dependent on time of year. For example, in the playoffs, he often has turned into more of a facilitator getting his teammates involved at home, and then has shot more on the road when the Lakers have been in a hostile environment.

      With respect to Durant, I do think you can make an argument for him being the better player, but the MAJOR flaw I still have an issue with is that in the playoffs, the guy has absolutely underperformed. I don’t see how you can overlook that fact when ranking these players.

      Posted by Brown Mamba | January 17, 2012, 10:05 pm
      • Nice article Mamba. I think the question is who is better now. You can’t compare Kobe to Durant in terms of past playoff performances because Kobe’s got most of his impressive career behind him and Durant’s still a developing player. Neither is a lock to perform in the playoffs-we don’t know whether Durant can make the leap or if Kobe has enough in the tank for another run. That said, I’d take Durant over Kobe by a hair, right now, based largely on the fact that he’s still a much more efficient scorer than Kobe, but I can see the argument either way. At the moment, Kobe’s either 2 or 3.

        Posted by Lochpster | January 17, 2012, 10:25 pm
        • This is true. At this exact moment you probably could say Durant is playing better. That being said, I need to use recent history and track record as an indicator of how good you currently are. Durant has never done anything in the playoffs, and until he does, there is no reason for me to believe he will do anything in future playoffs (and when he does, will be happy to move him ahead of Bryant on the list).

          Also — same goes with Kobe in the playoffs. Did he have a great playoffs last year? No. But history suggests to me that if one is likely to be the better playoff performer, it will be Kobe.

          Posted by Brown Mamba | January 18, 2012, 10:57 pm
          • Sorry Brown Mamba, but your logic is flawed.

            I think we both agree MJ was a better playoff performer than Kobe.

            If MJ, at 49, came back out of his retirement, would history suggest that he is likely to perform better than Kobe?

            Last year Durant was far better in the playoffs than Kobe. His team played better too.

            Kobe also is more of a streaky shooter than Kevin.

            When he gets hot, he is unbelievable, but for the entire season, especially if your team is a title contender, it is better to have a more consistent player.

            Posted by Doosiolek | January 20, 2012, 4:54 am
          • If recent history goes back as far as last season, there’s no way Kobe’s top 3. Either we’re talking about now, or we’re not.

            Posted by Lochpster | January 21, 2012, 10:57 am
  11. Hi Brown Mamba,

    First of all…I’m a huge Laker and Kobe fan. Win or Lose, i Bleed purple and Gold. Ok, so we are done with that. But I totally agree with you when it comes to Kobe’s FG attempts. Drives me mad when he keeps jackin’ up those shots. I just think that Kobe needs to trust his teammates more especially Drew and Pau. Those two compliment each other so well that it would be a waste to not utilize them. Is there a way that you can reach out to KOBE?! lol. haha. I’m just a realist..I love team Basketball..Lakers Basketball…

    Posted by Dee | January 18, 2012, 1:22 am
  12. Concern ONE is this…Bymun doesn’t want to be traded, because he knows he would never have as easy playing with anyother player, than Kobe. Therefore, i believe he has turned it down over the past several games. He’s been out of position, and he let the smaller team, Mavericks, push him out the the post. Concern TWO is this Kobe has to shoot because the Lakers have no BENCH to speak of, therefore you need more points from your starters, whereas Pau and Bymun may get hot or in the rythm for a game here and there, yet Kobe has the compacity to do more, and more often. Therefore, his shot count has went up. Concern THREE is at PG, we need another PG to help facilitate, and take some of the setting up oter duties away from Kobe. Derek is ranked last of all PG in the NBA, if we do not improve this position, it force Kobe into taking bad shots, because no one is controlling the floor, but rather asking Kobe to bail them out because they cannot create thier own shot. Concern FOUR is the simply the bench. The Lakers have the worst in the NBA for an elite team. This adds to Kobe trying to make up for the lack of point production as well, we currently have too many single players coming of the bench for other elite teams that average more than the Lkaers entire bench.

    Posted by Sportswriter | January 18, 2012, 7:55 am
  13. are we talking regular season only or overall? lebron might be most in the regular season but overall?? beside brain freeze? wow

    Posted by al lopez | January 18, 2012, 12:35 pm
    • Al — here what your saying, but here’s how I would think about it.

      I look at it overall, i.e., including skill, clutchness, leadership, etc. The fact is, even with his brain freeezes, Lebron was able to take a team that was nowhere on the radar and bring them within 2 games of a championship. He achieved similar results with Cleveland. In addition, he is the most statistically dominant player in the NBA by a decent margin.

      Who would you put at #1 if not Lebron?

      Posted by Brown Mamba | January 18, 2012, 10:53 pm
      • Leadership? Wilting in the playoffs 2 years in a row and needing wade to give him multiple pep talks, which still didn’t work. Calling out dirk for his cough, even though dirk had a sinus infection and was playing with a torn tendon on one of fingers, especially since lebron played up his mysterious elbow injury in 2010 playoffs.

        I don’t know how you think miami wasn’t on the radar in 2011. Most nba experts/analysts/media, I use those terms lightly, pegged them for at least 70 wins, and to easily win the nba finals. If he thought he didn’t have enough help in cleveland, which isn’t true, he surely can’t be making excuses playing in miami now. Miami was the most talented team in 2011, probably by a wide margin, with 3 top 15 players, all in their primes, which I can’t think of another time which that has been the case for a team.

        He’s good at piling up the stats, but what does exactly mean? You can make a case he’s been the best reg. season player for 2-3 years, but not for the playoffs, which is why it’s not unfair to say he’s not the best player. Until he proves otherwise, then we’ll see. The thing is, if wade plays well in last year’s final even with lebron’s disappearing act, the heat probably win. Miami is stacked this year, so it’s fair to say he doesn’t even have to play that well, but not mope around the court, for his team to win it all. It’s inexplicable why he just wilted away in the last 2 playoffs, especially when both of his teams were the favorites and leading in both series.

        Posted by boyer | January 19, 2012, 8:04 am
        • Find me one NBA analyst/expert/media not named Jeff Van Gundy who predicted those things.

          Posted by Lochpster | January 21, 2012, 11:02 am
        • It’s funny how some ignorant basketball fans and media members think that LBJ is never allowed to have one bad series in order to be considered an all-timer. Anyone remember where Wade was in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals? That’s right, he was nowhere to be found. He played turrible in that series (and the Bulls have done a great job in defending him last season AND this season), the only difference is that LBJ, Bosh, and the Heat defense played well enough around him for the Heat to win the series. Wade can thank his “non-playoff performing” teammate LBJ that he helped pick up his crappy play, because HE WOULD BE SITTING AT HOME INSTEAD OF PLAYING THE THE FINALS. Of course, some people don’t remember this because of their irrational dislike for James.

          No playing well in earlier rounds of the playoffs, no Finals. You need to win them all to win a title. So people can stop cherry-picking series and start looking at the entire body of work, as they should. The Finals aren’t weighed more than the other rounds. If you want to get to the top of the mountain you gotta climb the whole thing from the ground up, not just skip to the summit.

          Posted by The Realist #2 | February 7, 2012, 10:59 pm
          • I also think that Lebron was tired. He played huge minutes the entire playoffs. Almost the entire game every single game because Miami was thin in wing depth last year and had players hurt that weren’t capable of picking up any slack period. So he wasn’t himself partly because he was just tried, especially from playing so much lock down defense. I think Miami loading up on wing players in the off season was partly in responce to that.

            Posted by nightbladehunter | March 26, 2012, 7:45 am
          • While it’s true that he played heavy minutes, enough with the excuses already. This sounds similar to his phantom elbow injury. Pretty much every supposed elite player plays heavy minutes and is required to do so in order for that player’s team in win the title. This is isn’t something new starting with lebron. Wilt did it. Russell did it. Bird did it. Magic did it. Jordan did it. Kobe did it. Even Pippen did it. And on and on and on.

            What we’re continually told is that lebron is the most talented player in history. He seems to be in great shape, and to his credit he’s rarely injured. If he is truly getting tired, then either he’s not in as good enough shape as he needs to be or else he’s not in good enough shape as the past nba greats were. Because it’s not like he’s on the last leg of his career. He’s in the middle of his prime.

            Posted by boyer | March 26, 2012, 8:44 am
  14. As for Kobe, he’s still a top ten player in the league by several objective and valid player performance models. By win shares he’s top 10, by stat adjusted plus-minus he’s top 5. Split the difference.

    He’s a relatively inefficient volume scorer who can make plays for others (30% assist rate), on a team that is lacking production outside of the Lakers big three. Defensively he’s also lost a step. Overall however, Kobe’s total value still puts him among the game’s upper class.

    Posted by The Realist #2 | February 8, 2012, 8:48 am
  15. I would say that Kobe isn’t a top 3 player right now in this season.

    I have…
    1. Lebron
    2. KD
    3. Wade
    4. Howard(even with him playing with little effort some nights)
    5. Is up for debate but…I think that D-Rose is quickly closing in on being a top 5 player. Watching him on t.v you don’t always see that but watching him in person when he came to Miami, I saw Miami gearing its entire game plan to stopping Rose and they couldn’t do it until the closing minutes. I think its really a toss up now about the leagues best point guard between him and Chris Paul.

    Kobe shows flashes of his old self but hes shooting a lot of shots. This will not lead to a Laker team that can contend and how can you be a top 3 player if you can’t will a team to be a contender?

    Posted by nightbladehunter | February 8, 2012, 4:48 pm
    • So, was jordan top 3 before he played with pippen? Was kobe top 3 in 06-07? Was KG a superstar, even though he never could take his team out of the first round for a long time? In other words, this is a bad argument.

      Posted by boyer | February 8, 2012, 5:20 pm
      • Maybe in terms of stats he was. but as an all around player no he wasn’t. Because a top 3 player would have a team contending. Kobe isn’t even a top 3 player based on his stats this year though.

        Posted by nightbladehunter | March 26, 2012, 7:43 am
  16. Jordan in 1986-87, the year before Pippen joined the Bulls

    3281 MP led the league
    3041 Points, led the league and 3rd highest total ever
    833 FTM led the league 3rd all time
    972 FTA led the league 8th all time
    .857 FT%

    37.1 PPG/5.2 RPG/4.6 APG
    2.9 SPG/1.5 BPG

    2nd in MVP on a 40-42 team

    Yeah, I’d say he was definately top three (or better) prior to Pippen.

    The next year, Pippen, who started 0 games was 7.9/3.8/2.1

    Jordan, who played 3311 minutes was 35.0/5.5/5.9
    Jordan was the MVP AND Defensive Player of the Year.

    The Bulls were 50-32 that year.

    I am certain that Pippen helped get there, but to conclude that he was somehow even in MJ’s universe is really ignorant.

    Posted by Paulie Walnuts | February 8, 2012, 11:49 pm
  17. wow the league average is 44.6 percent shooting kobe is sitting at 42 percent hes not even not even shooting average, kobes wack as fuck and no where near a top10 nba player right now, Lebron, and D wade are better, As is Durant, as Is D howard , as is Cp3 ,as is his Larmacus Aldridge as is TOny parker, as is russell westbrook as is Josh smith, as is Steve nash ,as is rondo , and maybe Ill put kobe next.

    Posted by samtotheg | March 25, 2012, 12:44 am
  18. samtotheg, you may want to change your name to samonthecrizzack because that was a crackhead comment.

    Posted by crackbaby | March 25, 2012, 8:53 am
    • crack head even the lakers coach doesnt trust so called kobe to close face it his ass is n0t top 10 anymore!!!

      Posted by samtotheg | March 26, 2012, 12:05 am
    • ure right samonthecrizzack. tony parker is better than kobe. good look bro.

      Posted by Brown Mamba | March 26, 2012, 6:59 am
      • how brown shit stain mamba…hes playing better than kobrick byrant….you seem to forget once upon a time is not right now, ya schmuck, let me guess Tim Duncan and Garnett are better than blake griffin and Kevin Love,too,huh.

        Posted by samtotheg | March 26, 2012, 11:26 am
        • Are TD and KG averaging 28,5,5, leading the league in scoring, and leading the league in minutes played? And as a 16-year vet with a condensed schedule, and have no decent backup? And did TD and KG make the AS game?

          Hard to know how serious you are. But, some of those names you mentioned you have ahead of Kobe are quite laughable. But, seriously, where’s reggie evans and nick collison, maybe corey maggette, how about jeremy lin? You left out a bunch of guys better than Kobe. Why do you overrate him so much?

          Posted by boyer | March 26, 2012, 12:34 pm
          • dumbass boyer , I am not even gonna address those stupid statements but heres where yer guy stands in the rankings you homer

            field goal percentage he is ranked 78th when u take out the 3p pct he is ranked 64th…rebounds he is ranked 60th 3pt pct he is ranked 117th he does better with spg 29th and assists pg at 29th and guess what asshole he is number 1 in shots taken 1145 3rd in turnovers and 4th in minutes played, I stand by my comment he is playing subpar this year ,his average is only high cuz hes forcin shots , and I could give a fuck how long hes on the court if hes playing subpar how is that a good thing, ya moron.

            Posted by samtotheg | March 26, 2012, 4:32 pm
  19. ESPN had it right.
    Brown Stain Mamba is wrong.
    William has spoken.

    YOU’RE WELCOME!

    Posted by William | March 25, 2012, 10:39 pm

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