Third, as stated above, Hollinger’s stats and projections are based on averages per 40 minutes. As we all know, the game is 48 minutes long (not counting possible overtime) and Bryant happens to be one of the best closers in the game, the best to some. For instance, if you take Hollinger’s stats of Bryant from last season, you would need to add approximately 1.5 points to equal the actual points per game average of last season, which was 25.3. Here’s a look at Bryant’s full stats from the past ten years.
However, Laker fans may see Hollinger’s statistics come to fruition if Mitch Kupchik is able to pull off a deal to acquire Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic either prior to the start of the season or before the trade deadline. Howard’s 22.9 PPG (last year’s average) would in all probability affect Bryant’s numbers. If this happens, don’t wrongly assume that this signifies the end of Bryant’s brilliance on the court. Rather, it would create sustainability of Bryant’s success with the Lakers and the game of basketball.
Let’s take the possible additions of Howard and any others out of the equation and dig into projections that line up more with the reality that Bryant is as healthy as he can get and more energetic. To me, Kobe was at his strongest during the two-year period that lasted from his Most Valuable Player season in 2008 and the year following when he led the team to the championship in 2009.
During the 2007-08 season, Bryant averaged 28.3 points per game and a .459 field goal percentage. During the 2008-09 season, Bryant averaged 26.8 points per game and a .467 field goal percentage. Due to the longer than normal rest period and treatment to injuries that slowed down his performance – especially last season – I expect to see this season’s numbers to be somewhere in between these two seasons. Therefore, I would project 27.6 points per game and a .463 shooting percentage for Bryant this season.
While there will come a time when Bryant will no longer put up numbers that Laker fans are used to, it will not start this season or the next. Father Time will have to wait a little longer and stand back while Bryant continues to control the “aging theory” of professional basketball. As Dave McMenamin rightly stated, “Bryant relishes opportunities to prove people wrong as much or more than any player in the league.”*
*Source: ESPNLA.com | Dave McMenamin