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Is Kobe Bryant Still a Top Five Player?

Yahoo Voices said this of Kobe Bryant‘s ability:

A Look Inside Kobe Bryant The Human
He works at his craft as if he had not God-given talent.
He treats his craft as a job and works at it more than a Wall Street stockbroker.
He studies past and current legends of the game and anticipates moves like a chess master.
His greatness is measured by his 95% will to win and not by his 5% of athletic giftedness.
His vision sees beyond the measurable obstacles 99% of society latches onto.
His greatness stems from a desire to be something other athletes are merely proud to just have made it.
His mental intelligence is the key to his success, not his physical attributes.

The NBA is as good as it ever has been. Competition and pure talent are fierce.

The amount of talent has allowed teams to have multiple All-Stars on their rosters. This is responsible for the current era of basketball. Where teams are stacked with big threes and big fours instead of centering them around one player. Where there is no clear “best team” or “favorite.” Many teams have a chance at being seeded within the top five.

In the same respect, today’s NBA is home to so much talent, it’s hard to seed a top five ranking for individual players.

Normally, names like Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant are thrown around. As are the big men down in Texas like Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki. Derrick Rose will soon enter the conversation more frequently. Carmelo Anthony might re-enter. And don’t forget about Rajon Rondo.

Lately, there has been talk. The basketball world is starting to question whether or not Kobe Bryant is still a top five player…

Without question, LeBron is the number one basketball player in the world right now. He’s coming off a historical season. LeBron’s MVP titles, he’s one of the few players to ever been honored with the award three times, along with his performance at the 2012 London Olympics and the NBA Championship title enforce that he’s the top guy.

Durant’s scoring title and performance in the postseason cement him in the number two spot.

And the number three spot belongs to Kobe Bryant.

Kobe still draws plenty of comparisons to Michael Jordan. The standard.

Kobe has Metta World Peace, Jordan had Dennis Rodman. If that doesn’t convince you, this video that’s been going viral all week might:

Kobe was a 13th draft pick and spent his first three seasons as a bench player. There never was the hype around him that there was LeBron or Jordan. Or more recently Anthony DavisKyrie Irving, John Wall and Blake Griffin, who right out of college, are expected to deliver All-Star rookie campaigns.

Bryant is precise. He owns the court due to his versatile scoring abilities. Bryant was second runner for Durant’s 2012 scoring title. Bryant has scored 29484 career points. Making him the fifth highest point scorer in the history of the NBA according to ESPN. Behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387), Karl Malone (36,928), Michael Jordan (32,292), Wilt Chamberlain (31,419). Bryant still has three seasons left in his contract. He is the only active player and the only player of the post-Jordan era on the list until Kevin Garnett (24,270) and Dirk Nowitzki (24,134) come in at number 18 and 19 respectively.

Kobe just came off his best season since 2008-2009, so technically, he should have been removed for top five talks years ago. Yet, after 16 seasons, Bryant still averages 38.30 minutes of play per game. In the 2011-2012 season, he posted averages of 27.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.6 assists.

LeBron is a different player altogether. It’s harder to compare him to Bryant because he’s more about strength and speed. He’s ferocious and working with more God given talent than Bryant is. Maybe more than anyone else is.

What God gave LeBron, Bryant built in the gym and on the court. LeBron worked extremely hard but everyone knew this day would come for him since the beginning. Bryant’s substance wasn’t as clear.

LeBron had one of the best seasons basketball fans had seen in a while but Durant definitely challenged him this year. Lebron is the master of the shut-down defense. No one can touch him. Durant at 23-years old, has a 61% true shooting percentage. He will probably never be the defender that LeBron is but Durant’s scoring percentages and point averages are insane. Especially because he’s just starting.

Bryant has been in his prime for probably 12 to 14 seasons. Maybe more. Being paired with Steve Nash and Dwight Howard will extend his golden years or conceal the beginning of his decline.

It’s going to be so interesting to see what happens in LA with regards to Kobe’s legacy. However, as it stands now. Not only is Kobe currently a top five player, he’s one of the five top players of the post-Jordan era.

All stats from unless stated otherwise

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