“The evidence suggests that Bryant — who has logged 48,326 career minutes, faces a serious challenge if he hopes to be a top-five NBA player in the coming season. While the shortened 66-game season may save him some wear and tear, the back-to-back-to-backs he’ll have to play (a minimum of one and a maximum of three for each team) won’t do him any favors.”*
This is what some outsiders are saying about Kobe Bryant. Everyone knows his determination, his skills and abilities, his drive and his competitive will. However, Father Time keeps trying to hover over the shoulder of Bryant, yet season after season, he seems to swat him away. Father Time has a consistent record for winning, and despite analysts of the game giving projections that Father Time would be pleased with, winning remains as the sole focus in Bryant’s mind.
Source: ESPN.com | John Hollinger
As you can see from the above chart displaying Bryant’s last 10 season statistics per 40 minutes, his best overall year was 2008-09. Bryant was 30 years old and finally climbed to the mountaintop once again to beat the Orlando Magic in the NBA Finals. While there is a popular theory that professional basketball athletes peak at the age of 28, as ESPN’s Dave McMenamin often discusses , Bryant is striving to put that theory to rest, for his sake anyway.
While Hollinger projects Bryant’s stats to slightly decline this coming season, there are three arguments that can be made to argue that his numbers will be higher. First, Bryant is reportedly as healthy as he has been in years. With off-season treatment to repair his ailing knee, many, including Derek Fisher, have publicly noted that Bryant is playing with a renewed energy and strength.
Second, while extra time off due to the lockout may cause some players to come back slow, rest may have been the best medicine for Bryant. For the past several years, Bryant has played competitively at an almost non-stop pace, with playoff games, FIBA tournaments and the 2008 Beijing Olympics. This off-season, Bryant got the overdue and much needed rest for his veteran body and appeared in just a few exhibition games.
Next Page: Bryant’s Season Projections