Kobe Bryant is off to a phenomenal start this season, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is able to keep this up for the entire season. Kobe is averaging 29.5 ppg and is coming off of a 48 point game last night in a victory over the Phoenix Suns. There were a lot of questions and concerns about Kobe after last year’s NBA Playoffs, but he has been quieting the critics very quickly. Even though Kobe has been around for 15 years, he is only 33 years old. He may not average 35 points per game this season (He averaged 35.4 in the 2005-2006 season). But nobody expects him to do that. He also has a much better team around him this season than he did during the ’05-’06 season. He is also contributing to the team with 5.8 assists per game and 5.7 rebounds per game. This is a different Kobe than the Mavericks saw last year in the playoffs, and teams need to worry about Kobe more than ever. With Kobe, Gasol, and Bynum all playing at their top levels there may be no team better in the Western Conference than the Los Angeles Lakers.
Bryant knows that he does not have many more seasons to win that 6th Title, and we should expect to see him more determined than ever. He is making shots that the younger Kobe may not have been able to make, and he is scoring points at will. The most impressive part about his point production is that he has struggled from 3-point range. In his 48 point performance, Kobe failed to make a single 3-pointer, and yet he scored 48 points on 31 shots. If he can continue this production, while learning to coexist with Bynum and Gasol, I think everyone will need to reevaluate their perspective on the Western Conference playoff picture. I understand that Dirk played great during the playoffs, and I do not want to take anything away from his accomplishments, but if I can take any current player for a playoff series I want Kobe on my team. He has consistently proved that he can win Championships, and with the ball at the end of the game there is no other player I would rather give the ball to.
I am certainly not changing my picks quite yet though. I have to see Kobe do this more consistently over the entire season. And I still like the Heat to win, but it may not be as easy as originally thought if Kobe is able to continue to play at the level that he is right now.