The Lakers are an average 15-15. But you know who’s never been average? Kobe Bryant. In fact, he’s played quite excellent this year. A lot of critics have actually said this is the best he’s played in years.
Kobe Bryant himself agrees. Check out the story from Dave McMenamin from ESPN L.A..
After shooting 50 percent or better from the field in each of the first four games to start the 2012-13 campaign, Bryant has proved the increased accuracy wasn’t a fluke as his team is more than a third of the way through the season and his field-goal percentage is still a lofty 47.8 percent — the highest mark of his 17-season career.
Just how good is the 34-year-old Bryant, the league’s leading scorer at 30.1 points per game (his highest scoring average since 2006-07) playing?
“This is probably the best I’ve played in a while,” Bryant said after practice Monday. “I’ve had years the last few years where I’ve felt pretty good but we kept my minutes down so the numbers didn’t look the same, but this year I feel pretty good.”
There were a few other factors that Kobe brought up on why he’s playing so well this season.
“I think it’s just the minutes,” Bryant said. “I’m playing more. And I’m also extremely healthy. I had a whole summer to really be healthy, to be in shape, to get stronger and I think that has a lot to do with it. Diet has a lot to do with it, too. Watching what I eat.”
Bryant said he was playing on “one leg” in Jackson’s farewell season in 2010-11 and the Hall of Fame coach tried to manage Bryant’s health by cutting his minutes, something that led critics to declare Bryant’s career was on the decline.
Still, we have to face the facts that Kobe Bryant is 34 years old. To prolong his career, he’ll have to play fewer minutes (he’s actually playing 38.7 minutes this season, slightly more than last year!). Heck, so that he doesn’t run out of gas by the playoffs, he’ll have to play fewer minutes.
Kobe credits cutting out junk food and having a better diet (is that your New Year’s resolutions, everyone?) on his season. As mentioned, he’s averaging 30.1 points and shooting a very efficient 47.8 percent. We’re not hearing much about his nagging injuries this season like we have in the past.
Of course, everyone will ask this question if he would play even longer since he’s feeling healthy this season.
Has Bryant’s resurgent season got him thinking about playing past the “two or three years” he said he had left in him at the start of training camp?
“No, not really,” Bryant said with a smile.
Another reminder that we should enjoy his game while he’s still playing. And we can enjoy that later on today as the Lakers take on the Philadelphia 76ers, who will try to get revenge on Kobe and company after losing at home against them.