On his way up the NBA’s all-time scoring list, Kobe Bryant moved into fourth place, passing Wilt Chamberlain on a pull-up jumper in the second quarter on Saturday night in Sacramento.
It’s only a matter of time before Bryant passes Michael Jordan and takes over the third spot all-time, but Karl Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are still a ways off. Believe me, I’m not putting anything past Kobe, especially if he continues to play at the level he has shown this year, even with a less than consistent/healthy/good supporting cast.
Barring a significant injury, Bryant will likely pass Jordan at some point during the 2013-14 season. Believe it or not, Kobe’s efficiency has been fantastic this season, and he should have no problem continuing his climb up the all-time scoring ladder.
Interestingly, Bryant’s assist rate is currently the highest of his entire career at 29.1%, and his usage rate is at a three-year low. While the Lakers continue to run the majority of their offense through Bryant, Kobe has done a very good job as a pick-and-roll ball-handler this season. It certainly helps to have the likes of Dwight Howard rolling to the hoop, but ironically, it’s taken until Bryant’s age-34 season and him having a mediocre at best supporting cast (beyond Howard and Pau Gasol) for Bryant to take more efficient shots and distribute and facilitate when feasible.
It is working, by the way. Despite the Lakers’ record and their overall struggles this season, Kobe is absolutely not to blame. Nagging injuries to both Howard and Gasol have been the main culprits, along with one of the leagues’ worst bench units. If the Lakers can surround Bryant with a little more league-average talent and stay relatively healthy next season, they should not have any problem getting in the playoffs with room to spare.