Kobe Bryant No Longer Among Game’s Elite

April 22, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant (24) and Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant (35) battle for position on the court during the first half of the game at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

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


  • Nalin

    Prepared to be flamed

  • msing

    Put all the stats up you want. Just consider 2 things. 2nd in scoring (he could have been first if he played that last game) and made it in and then pasted at least the first round of the NBA finals. Now with that take every player in your stats and tell me which ones met or exceeded these two milestones?

    Sure making it into the finals is a group effort but if you are the best scorer on your team you should get the lions share of credit if not being the person considered to have lead your team in getting to that point.

    Also the poor shot percentage didn’t seem to negatively impact them from getting into the finals. It probably hurt them once in the finals but at least it was good enough to get them into the second round.

    As a Lakers fan “second and out” is never acceptable. We want to hang banners not dust them off. But to count him out as an elite player in the league is laughable.

    You know what happens when you turn your back on the Black Mamba. You get bit in A$$!!

    • msing

      Ugh “pasted” I meant past.

  • HM

    I think its funny you use PER to argue your point about how Kobe hasn’t been elite for years yet in 2010-11 his PER was 5th, ahead of CP3, Durant and Russell Westbrook so that automatically throws out your point about Kobe not being among the NBA’s elite “for a few seasons now”. Hollinger’s PER stat is flawed and if that’s how we’re going to determine one’s elite level Kenneth Faried is ranked 18th, would ANYONE ever put him in the same class as Kobe?

    don’t worry I’ll wait

    • HM

      Kobe was 17th in 2011-12, that is why I use Faried as a comparison

    • Jack Winter

      PER is just one of many tools used to measure a player’s overall effectiveness, HM, which is why Win Shares/48 Minutes and Net Rating vs. Team Average were included. Take a look at how Bryant stacks up league-wide in each of those categories and the results say the same thing as PER does.

  • Kizz

    Bro pass me some of the weed you are smoking!!!!!

    • Jack Winter


      I was sober while writing this, unfortunately.


    It’d be better if this post actually used reasonable bar graphs.

    I mean, of course if you put the left-most number to be closest to Kobe’s number, and the right-most number to be closest the highest ranking person, it’s going to make Kobe’s stats look worse.

    If you actually displayed things on a reasonable scale (probably either starting from zero or the average of all NBA players, depending on the stat) and displayed the stats of more NBA players, it would be clear that Kobe is still pretty darn good (but obviously not the best).
    As they say, statistics and statistical representations are simply the truth being used to tell lies.

    • Jack Winter

      Read the article again, Leopard. CBS’ Eye On Basketball ranked Bryant as the fifth best player in the league behind the other four players featured here.

      The graphs were done that way because that’s how the players were ranked – James, Durant, Paul, Howard, and Bryant from in descending order. Not to paint these statistics in one light or another.

      Also, at no point in this article was it said that Bryant is anything other than “pretty darn good.” This is an examination of how he stacks up to the quartet that is almost universally considered the league’s best; not a comparison to the league’s average or even above-average players.

      All that said, thanks for the read. Hope you continue to follow our stuff as the season finally gets underway.

  • Thomas Oliver

    I understand what they’re trying to say. It’s true, and I’ve been saying that to my friends over the last couple of years that while the Lakers do win a lot of games, they lose games they shouldn’t have. If you notice, the Lakers stopped winning the Conference two seasons ago, the last season they were seen in the Conference Finals.

    Kobe’s production, when measured in advanced stats, dropped to a level that allowed the Lakers to slowly slide over the last two years. Be logical for just a moment. I’ll wait. Ready?

    Why would the stacked Lakers, with Gasol, a slowly-but-surely healthier Bynum, consistent Sixth Man of the Year candidate, and one of the best players in the game not be the top dog in at least their conference? We pointed fingers at everyone but Kobe. Kobe’s efficiency dropped just these last two years, and would explain the slow slide backwards, when they dropped to 2nd and last year 3rd in the Western Conference (remember, if the Clippers won that last game, the Lakers could’ve ended in 5th).

    Bryant had a much lower 3P% over the last couple of years, and his Win Shares dropped significantly, including the subpar 6.2 which doesn’t come close to cracking the top 20 from last season.

    This is the problem. Bryant still acts as if he’s the most efficient player on the court, and that isn’t necessarily true. There was this kid in my neighborhood who was the best at a video game until I started beating him, but still talked as if he was better. That’s Kobe.

    And it bothers the people he plays with. If he doesn’t start embracing a twilight role, his last few years in the league will just show more regression (in efficiency, not numbers). Otherwise, his regression isn’t just affecting his efficiency numbers, but his teammates as well.

    • NightyKnight13

      Yes! Finally someone who can take off the fan goggles! Is Kobe Bryant a fantastic player? Of course! But he hasn’t made the greatest adjustment as he’s gotten older and his skills decline. He shouldn’t be the alpha male on that team anymore. What he should do is exploit the respect his opponents have for him and his jump shot, and make either Gasol, or now Howard, the focal point. That’s when the Lakers become unbeatable.

    • Ethan

      You’re an idiot. In 2011 they were coming off THREE STRAIGHT NBA FINALS TRIPS. You don’t think that’ll tire a team? Gasol and odom played like shit and Bynum just didn’t care like he never has. And in 2012 we literally had one of the worst benches in the league. And even though Gasol played better, his numbers were still off from the 2010 run. Remember he kept getting beat by that 6″8 rookie faried. This year, we have a better bench, a center who never quits on the court, a great all around poit guard, and hopefully a motivated pau. Talk shit after this season. That’s when there will be no excuses. Till then, just shut up case you obviously don’t know what you’re taking about

  • Ethan

    You’re a moron and an idiot who loves stats just like that biased imbecile John Hollinger. Stats don’t tell the whole story. The only reason lebron won this year was cause chalmers took over one game and miller caught fire. And a bunch of bogus calls went against the thunder. Look beyond stats dumbass

  • Ethan

    And notice how you’re basically the only “writer who thinks Kobe isn’t among the games elite” lol so just by looking at a bar you think Kobe doesn’t belong with durant or lebron? Shows how little it takes to sway your opinion. Ask any of the espn writers and even though they’re riding the lebron train, at least they’ll admit Kobe is still elite. And did your forget he basically played for half the season with a torn ligament in his shooting wrist? Yeah that might’ve contributed to the 43% shooting. You’re just too much of an moron to realize that. Whoever let you write this article should be fired along with you. God you’re an idiot

  • Tom

    This article is just a pathetic attempt to get readers. Kobe had a fucked up wrist the first half of the season. Ya think that might’ve contributed to his production dip? Yeah maybe a little…
    Like I said this just an idiot “writer” trying to get readers.
    Good luck cause after this, his credibility just went down the shitter

  • cbutchy

    If Kobe is so sorry why is he still guarded by half the oposing team? Let anyone in the nba guard him 1 on 1 he will break their ankles @ 34. Must be some powerful …. your smoking

    • Jack Winter

      Never said he was “sorry,” cbutchy, just that he wasn’t on the same level as James, Durant, Paul, and Howard. Also, if Bryant was actually guarded by half the opposing tea you’d think the Lakers – with the league’s best frontcourt – would have been more efficient offensively. Instead they ranked 10th, not average but far from elite too.

      You’re right, Bryant is a fantastic one-one-one scorer; perhaps the NBA’s best. But that’s not the best way to score and that’s something he’s failed to realize as his body has started to fail him and his skills have begun slowly eroding. If he embraces the role of “playmaker” rather than “scorer” this season, the Lakers will be much, much better off, and maybe win the title.

      Thanks for the read.

  • MillaRed

    WTF is this? Are you dumb? Shut the hell up.