Kobe Bryant is a two-time NBA Finals MVP, the MVP of the 2008 season, an 11-time All-NBA First Team member, a nine-time All-Defensive First Team member, four-time All-Star MVP, and a five-time NBA champion. Why wouldn’t you want him on your fantasy team? He’s considered as one of the best to ever step foot on the court, and with good reason. However, he has been highly injury-prone these last few years. And given his age, people are wondering how much Kobe has left in the tank.
Bryant was a non-factor in the 2013-14 season, returning from his torn Achilles injury in early December, but lasted only six games before suffering a broken lateral tibial plateau in his left knee. That injury kept him out for the remainder of the season. The numbers he put up in those six games were well below par for Bryant, but it seems to be more of a case of shaking off the rust, rather than any meaningful indicator of a downward trend in his career. He averaged 13.8 points per game, 4.3 rebounds per game, 6.3 assists per game, and 1.2 steals in 30 minutes per game through those six games. Having signed a $48.5 million, two-year extension in November, the Los Angeles Lakers will be banking on Bryant to be back to his best when the 2014-15 season kicks off.
Before we get to some projections for Kobe next season, let’s first take a look at his two seasons before the torn Achilles injury. Then, let’s take a closer look at the six games he played this season. After that, we will get into the projections and see how I think Kobe Bryant will do next season statistically.
Kobe Bryant only played 58 games in 2011-12 and started all of them. He averaged 38.5 minutes per game and 27.9 points per game that season, which was a 2.6-point spike from the year before. He averaged 5.4 rebounds per game and 4.6 assists per game, which were both close to his career average. Defensively, he averaged 0.3 blocks per game and 1.2 steals per game.
As far as his shooting, he shot 43 percent from the floor. He made about 10 field goals per game and attempted around 23 shots. From the three-point line, he averaged 1.5 makes per game and shot 30 percent from behind the line. He also did pretty well at the free-throw line, averaging 85 percent from there. He averaged around seven free throws made per game.
During 2012-13, Kobe Bryant stayed healthy almost all season, playing and starting in 78 games. He averaged 38.6 minutes per game, which stayed similar from the year before. He also stayed consistent with his scoring, only dropping 0.6 points per game to 27.3 points per game. He averaged 5.6 rebounds per game and 6.0 assists per game, which are both higher than his career averages in those categories. Defensively, he averaged 0.3 blocks per game and 1.4 steals per game, staying similar to his career averages.
As far as his shooting went, he shot 46 percent from the floor, which was an increase of 3.3 percent from the previous year. He again averaged around 10 field goals made per game, only attempting around 20 shots per game. He also stepped his three-point game up a little, making 1.7 three pointers per game and shooting 32 percent from behind the line. He stayed fairly consistent with his free throws, making around seven free throws per game and shooting 84 percent from that line.
The six games he played were from December 8 to December 17. The opponents he faced, in this order, were the Toronto Raptors, Phoenix Suns, Oklahoma City Thunder, Charlotte Bobcats, Atlanta Hawks, and Memphis Grizzlies. In the first game, he played 28 minutes and shot 22 percent from the floor. He had 9 points, 4 assists, 8 rebounds, and 2 steals. He shot 5-of-7 from the free-throw line and 0-of-3 from three-point territory.
In the second game, he played 29 minutes and shot 55 percent from the floor. He had 20 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, and went 8-of-8 from the free-throw line. He also went 0-of-2 from the three-point line. In the third game, he played 23 minutes and shot 33 percent from the floor. He only had 4 points, but had 13 assists, one rebound and two steals. In the fourth game, he played 32 minutes and shot 53 percent from the floor. He had 21 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists and made all three of his three-point attempts.
In the fifth game, he played 32 minutes and only shot 29 percent from the floor. He ended with 8 points, 3 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 steals. He had a difficult time with his shot, shooting 4-of-14 from the floor, 0-of-5 from long-range and 0-of-1 from the free-throw line. In his last game, he played 33 minutes and shot 50 percent from the floor. He had 21 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 block, and 1 steal. He made his only three-point attempt that night and also made both of his free-throw attempts.
Kobe Bryant has been unfortunate with all of his injuries, but I see a bounce-back this year and I see him coming back to his usual self. I think it will take a string of games for him to get back in his groove, but once he does he’ll be great. There’s no doubt he should be high on your fantasy list. Statistically, I think he will average around 25 points per game, which although would be decent for him, it will help your team out a lot. He will also bring in about six assists and six rebounds per game, adding two steals per game. He’ll shoot fairly well from the floor and bring you a couple of three-pointers too.
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