How Kobe Bryant Is Re-Defining Our Expectations for All-Time Greats and the TrueHoop network certainly got it right when they named LeBron James as the top player in their rankings of the NBA's best players for the 2012-13 season, but their failure to include Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant in the top five just proves how ridiculous those rankings really are.

It's bad enough that ESPN decided to rank two players, Dwight Howard and Derrick Rose higher than Bryant, despite the fact they both finished the previous season on the injured list with their respective futures in doubt. But that decision looks even crazier when you consider the type of season Bryant is having right now.

At 34, Bryant is definitely an old man playing a young man's game, but there is nothing in his numbers that would suggest that.

Currently, Bryant is the third leading scorer in the NBA at 27.0 points per game, but more impressively he is on pace for the highest shooting percentage of his 17-year career. Add in Bryant's six assists per game—which equals the best season in his career—and it becomes extremely difficult to exclude him from the top five players in the game today.

In fact, when you consider the type of season Bryant is having at his age the conversation about him as a top-five all-time player looks a lot more reasonable.

There is no shortage of people who will tell you that Bryant is no Michael Jordan, but one fact often overlooked in the endless comparisons is how each player finished, or in Bryant's case, will finish their careers.

For some of Jordan's fans his final two seasons in Washington don't exist, but if the blinders are removed you will see a portrait of a great player in the throes of decline.

Jordan only shot below 45 percent from the field four times in his career and two of those occasions were in his final two seasons, Jordan's 14th and 15th in the NBA.

In Bryant's 17th season his averages have increased in nearly every c...

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