Kobe Bryant is one of the greatest basketball players of all time.
That’s obvious and hardly revelatory stuff, but before we get into the meat of this article that fact bears repeating. There’s no anti-Bryant bias here, instead just a clear understanding that he no longer has a place among the game’s true elite. And he’s been absent this table for a few seasons now, a thought that analysts and stat-heads everywhere have come around to at various points in time.
After a 2012 that saw Bryant again put up predictably prodigious scoring numbers but career-low efficiency across the board and a lower impact than ever on defense, that he’s a notch – or maybe even two – below the league’s handful of top players should have been as obvious as his legendary historical status. It certainly was to us, and the prevailing thought here was that only Lakers fans and those clinging to “hero-ball” sentimentality would believe otherwise.
Than CBSSports’ Eye On Basketball bloggers ranked Bryant fifth overall among all players going into 2012-2013, and our heads spun. These are smart, talented, and obviously well-established NBA people that understand the worth of advanced stats and hardly get caught up in things like Bryant’s unmatched shot-making prowess. They were smart enough to rank Russell Westbrook just a spot behind Bryant, and we like the order of the quartet ranked ahead of him, too. Point being, these guys are some of basketball media’s best. Bearing that and last season in mind, how could they reasonably consider Kobe the league’s fifth best player?
We still don’t know, and their explanation makes it seem they’re not sure either. But for the Eye on Basketball guys and the legions of Kobe-lovers everywhere, we present the following graphs. Take from them what you wish, but there’s only one logical conclusion here, and it’s the one we already knew before compiling all this data – Bryant doesn’t belong.
*League rank in parentheses
*Position rank in parentheses