Next in line for Kobe is long time nemesis and one time teammate, Shaquille O Neal. The problem with Shaq is that he continues to play and add to his total, albeit at one-third of the pace of Kobe. Assuming that Kobe doesn’t have that much of a drop off in production, and Shaq doesn’t find the fountain of youth and put up young Shaq like numbers, Kobe should pass up Shaq for 5th place sometime in the 2012-2013 season when Kobe will be a mature 34 years old.
The good thing about the next four on the list is that unlike Shaq, are retired and no longer adding to their totals. The bad thing is that they are thousands of points ahead of Kobe’s current point total.
In order to project Kobe’s production over the next few years I had to account for his natural decline with age and needed to find a comparable player to Kobe that played at this age in the NBA. In this case I will use Michael Jordan’s rate of decline in scoring production starting when he was at age 33 where the following 2 seasons his scoring output dropped about 3 percent each season. Jordon retired with the Chicago Bulls at age 35 but we would expect for the trend of a 3% drop off each season to continue had he kept playing consecutively. Jordon did return to play for the Wizard at age 38 and played until he was an astonishing 40 years old. When making any comparison to Kobe, you have to use Jordan as measuring stick. I will use the same 3 percentage per year scoring decline in MJ’s career for this Kobe scoring projection.