Same rules apply as grades are handed out according to pre-season expectations vs. actual production.
Shooting Guard: Kobe Bryant
27.3 PPG, 6.0 APG, 5.6 RPG, 10.9 WS, .174 WS/48 on 46.3% shooting and 32.4% shooting from three point range. Grade: A+
2012-2013 in brief: Coming off of one of his most inefficient seasons of his career, Kobe Bryant was excepted to rest a lot more this year with a stacked team, and his offensive load was expected to be greatly diminished with Steve Nash on the roster. He ended up carrying the offense for most of the year, having one of his finest seasons yet, until it ended with a serious trip to the DL.
2014 status: 1 year left on his contract, earning a massive 30.4 million.
It just seems like Father Time will never catch up to Kobe. After last season's awfully inefficient season, in which he shot his lowest shooting percentage since his rookie season, it looked like it was going to be all down hill for Kobe at this advanced stage of his career.
And yet, here we are, talking about what an amazing season Bryant had, completely carrying the team to the playoffs despite defensive struggles from just about everybody and the offense not clicking until late in the year.
The team started off as a train wreck, losing 4 of the first 5 games under Mike Brown, the final game at Utah producing a great moment in Death Stare history. Bryant was his normal, dominant self, averaging 27.2 PPG, 3.2 APG, 5 RPG while shooting an astronomical 55.9% from the floor. During this stretch, the Lakers averaged 97.2 PPG while allowing 98.8 points; clearly, defense was the problem and Bryant was one of the central issues, playing lazy, gambling defense and being late on rotations, sometimes not rotating at all. That's not to say this is all Bryant's fault, as everybody was playing atrocious defense during this stretch, but Bryant played a part in it.
And Bryant continued his dominant offensive display, averaging 27.2 points per game, 5.6 assists per game and 5.3 rebounds per game for the whole month of November, yet the Lakers' record was 7-9 at the end of the month. At this point, the Lakers had a major problem with turnovers, leading the league in that category, while playing bad defense. What more could they get from Bryant? He was already doing what 99% of NBA players can't do and the Lakers were still under .500.
And then Bryant decided to turn the notch up from 10 to 11 for December, completely destroying his defensive assignments, averaging a ridiculous 33.7 points per game, 4.6 assists per game and 5.5 rebounds per game for the whole month of December. It still wasn't working for the team, as they went 7-7 in the month, with a total record of 14-16 at the start of the New Year. This was the month Bryant became the youngest player to ever score 30,000 points. There is very little more one player could do for a team, as Bryant was carrying them, but it still wasn't enough. This month gave me deja-vu to the 2006-2007 Lakers, in which Bryant averaged 35.4 points per game (highest PPG total since Michael Jordan's 37.1 PPG in 1986-1987 season; since 1970, it's the second highest PPG total). Something had to change for the Lakers, starting with turnovers and defense.
|Kobe was very aggressive this season; we saw a lot of this.|
February was entirely different for the Lakers as they cut down on turnovers, played better defense and played better team ball, largely due to Bryant as he averaged 7.3 assists per game for the whole month to go along with his 26.5 points per game total. The Lakers clicked well and ended the month with a 9-4 record, fulling gearing up to make a run at the playoffs.
Bryant's amazing play didn't end in February as he closed out the final two months of the year putting up some incredible numbers to help power the Lakers to a 20-9 record after the All-Star Break, as Bryant continued putting up 7.5 assists per game to along with his 29.3 points per game down the stretch, playing 41 minutes or more per game during the final 7 games he played (4 times playing all 48 minutes). This would, of course, lead to the achilles injury that Bryant suffered against the Golden State Warriors, ending one of the best individual seasons' Lakers' fans have seen from possibly the greatest Laker of all time.
In some positive news, Bryant is out of his cast and crutches and is walking. He is eyeing a return during the opener in October.
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) June 4, 2013