Saturday, 9 July 2011
Let's get academic as we report on how Kobe is taking the legends to school.
By Tim David Harvey
A report on Kobe Bryant's rise up the all-time NBA scorers list, investigating how far he can climb with relation to an analysis of his offence and a comparison to the legends above him.
This year the Mamba slithering up more than the average weekly Top Ten ladders. Kobe's shook the dream like Christina Milian, left Hayes for smoke and parted Moses as he passed Hakeem Olaujawon, Elvin Hayes and Moses Malone for sixth place on the National Basketball Association's all-time scoring list. Now Kob' is trying to crack the top-five like the Black Eyed Peas and you'll never guess who he's facing off with next. Let's just say an early playoff exit this year saw the corvette hit a brick wall. Time to shift gear. As Bryant climbs, years from now, when he quits and retires, where will he be crowned amongst the all-time scoring royalty of the association? You can count on him being affiliated with the top guys.
Kobe hits milestones every season, he's being doing it his whole career going from youngest ever to best ever records. This year however Kobe's been drawing milestones and breaking records in his sleep. Despite recovering from a knee injury and some ill form, Kobe has still been playing sick, having one of his most successful years for achievements. Kobe's already made Dominique Wilkins (26,668 points) highlights look human in comparison, passing his position and his big offence already passed 'The Big O', Oscar Robertson (26,710 points) in the top ten scoring. Then came three more in a row, even without another championship and now for the rest of his career he could pass even more. So let's take a look at who and how far he could really get up the scale.
Kobe's got the best of the best to best if he wants to become the all-time greatest scorer. Here they are;
Shaquille O'Neal-28,582 Points: As Kobe gets older and the scoring ladder gets harder to climb the Mamba is going to meet an old friend as he tries to enter the top five. It looks like the red car could drive round the wall no matter how old the model. When Kobe passes Shaq sure everyone will try and make something big out of it, but in reality it's nothing.
Wilt Chamberlain-31,419 Points: As we get into 30, 000 territory will Kobe be out of bounds or will he find a home amongst the elite?Chamberlain's position is on a high stilt, that's what happened when you score a century in a game. Still Kobe's not far behind him as this current and one-time Laker have a lot in common. Kobe's career high of 81 has put him right behind Wilt in another scoring category and many critics have talked about whether he can go one better. In a game maybe not, but over a few more 82's? That will do.
Michael Jordan-32,292 Points: If you thought there was a lot riding on overcoming Shaq, how about if Kobe has a chance to enter the top 3? He could take M.J. Throughout Bryant's career the like Mike similarities and comparisons have been drawn out. Could it be that Kobe could actually beat Mike? Now this won't end the debate of who's better, or start it for those that know that Michael will always be king. Still with almost identical offensive skills and age not offending Kobe right now, number 24 could really be more than number 23.
Karl Malone-36,928 Points: Now where going deeper does Kobe have the good to deliver more points then the Mailman? Or for that matter does he have the strength and conditioning to play into his 40's. When Kobe's goatee sports greys will he still be able to pick his spots and roll to the basket like Malone could. Karl ended his career playing with Kobe in L.A. and although things didn't end so well then, it's clear the conclusion of these two players hasn't been wrote yet.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar-38,387 Points: Records where meant to be broken and everyone wants the top spot, but can Kobe cap Kareem's and the leagues total, becoming the all-time Laker and the all-time player? 10, 519 is a lot of points for a guy who has already done this twice over but is way into the third act of his career. Still, if anyone in the league right now could do it, it'd only be Kobe. The guy is a scoring machine, and a regular franchise feature in the early Summer. Still, if only Kobe had a signature shot (bar the M.J. fade) like Jabbar then the limit would be the sky. You know Kobe would then have this hook line and sinker. Now the question is, will he score big, or will he fadeaway?
Kobe Bryant-27,868 Points: There are too many variables here to determine, for example injuries and playing time etc. Kobe's knee is a factor as are the team-mates he shares the ball with. How longer can Bryant play for and at a high-level to boot? 35? Maybe. 40? Perhaps if he puts on airs and mirrors the 'Floor Jordan' era. Still, the more time Kobe has left the more likely he is of climbing the charts. At 32, he could definitely still play at a high level for many years, perhaps until he's 37. With that idea in mind he could still make it. If he kept up an unlikely 30 point average to his late 30's he'd clear Kareem like a high jumper with 12, 300 more points in the books, just from regular season games of around 2, 460 points each year.
Now if we looked at this more realistic career average of around 25 points, (which he could more likely maintain) that would keep Kobe at around 2,050 points each season. Over 5 more years that would give the mamba 10, 250 points that wouldn't snake him the top spot. Still however this isn't taking in playoff games, that could take him further in more ways then one. With more of Gasol, Odom, Artest and Bynum, who knows how far this Laker dynasty could go in the next five years. Even if the lockout will only put a freeze on NBA time and not Bryant's age. The more rings Kobe gets the more positions he'll take in this top-ten. Still taking playoffs out the equation makes up for the points that could be lost due to age, injury or ball-sharing (that's passing Kobe) that could help give us a more realistic conclusion.
So there are plenty of variables and things standing in the way of Kobe reaching the top, but he's going to make up more spots this year and he could definitely crack the top 3. As for going all the way, it may look doubtful in some degrees but it's still a possibility for a man who has defied the impossible. Winning is everything but you know in the back of Kobe's mind this is a mission he chooses to accept. Let's keep score, 10, 519 to go and counting. Catch up!