ESPN Ranks Kobe Bryant as No. 25 Best NBA Player: Too High or Too Low?

There are not currently 24 players in the NBA who are better than Kobe Bryant.

ESPN's NBA Player Rankings say otherwise, designating the Black Mamba the Association's 25th-best player. But that's simply not accurate. It's not even close to accurate.

The folks who participated in the rankings are no doubt good people. Their placement of Kobe isn't villainous, at least. It's just incorrect.

Recovering from a ruptured Achilles and now on the wrong side of 35, Kobe's stock isn't what it once was. All his previous accolades don't make him ageless or immortal. Like everyone else, there is reason to doubt he'll make a full recovery.

Putting him at No. 25, behind John Wall, Roy Hibbert, Joakim Noah, Chris Bosh and 20 others accounts for too much of this skepticism. Way too much.  

On any given night, it will be difficult to find four players better than Kobe, let alone 24. 

Now may be an acceptable time to doubt him, to question him, but it's no time to count him out completely.


Why It's Weird

Achilles injuries are no joke. They're even more damaging when sustained at such an advanced age.

Basketball Prospectus' Kevin Pelton (now of wrote about this particular injury after Chauncey Billups (then of the Los Angeles Clippers) ruptured his Achilles in 2012. He says that "Achilles ruptures are less common than ACL tears or microfracture knee surgery, they don't carry the same gravity, but the NBA track record with severe Achilles injuries is every bit as negative."

He wasn't kidding.

At the time of the injury, Billups was logging 30.4 minutes a night for Los Angeles. Upon returning in 2012-13, he logged 19 minutes a night over 22 games. 

Elton Brand is another high-profile player who suffered a similar injury. He ruptured his Achilles during the summer of 2007 an...

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