I get it. It’s early. Very early. Probably far too early to be discussing the race for MVP in an NBA season that’s barely one sixth of the way over. But you know what? That’s the luxury of sitting on the sidelines and picking the action apart from where we sit. We can indulge in ridiculous discussions and speak in broad hypotheticals. And so I wonder, could Kobe Bryant be the early season frontrunner for MVP?
To answer that query let’s start with an examination of what Kobe has done so far.
Through the first 12 games of the season Bryant has been nothing short of spectacular. Forget that he’s 33 years-old. Forget that he’s playing with torn ligaments in his wrist, or that his knees required a state of the art procedure in the off-season for rejuvenation. Simply put, the guy is playing his best stretch of basketball in recent memory. Greatness, to me, is consistent excellence made to seem routine. Right now Kobe is making it look easy.
After back to back 40-plus point games against the Suns and Jazz, Bryant now sits atop the NBA scoring lead with an average of 30.3 per game. He is currently scoring at a higher rate (32.4 points per 40 minutes of play) than he has since ’06, and is doing it all on a robust (and better than career average) 46 percent shooting. He’s also averaging higher rates of assists (5.7) and rebounds (5.9) than in any season since he won the MVP in ’08. Oh, and by the way, the Lakers are a Pacific Division leading 8-4.
Still, despite the superlatives the argument against Bryant for MVP is two-fold. For one, despite his achievements there will be many to point out that there is no way Kobe can keep up this torrid pace, that this early season rampage is merely a deviation from the norm that will correct itself over time. To those I will say this: Kobe has a history of proving the doubters wrong. And if anyone will use media proclamations of “he can’t keep this up” as motivation, it will be Bryant.
As for his competition, I think that’s a better argument.
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