Kobe Bryant Is Old, Battered, And Used: Is This The Year His Decline Begins?

Kobe Bryant is about to do something that Michael Jordan never did.

That is, go into an NBA season with more than 1,000 career regular season games already under his belt.

Kobe Bryant hit the 1,000 mark late last season and stands now at 1,021 career regular season games. This coming season he will, presumably, pass Michael Jordan's career mark of 1,072. 

Add the fact that Kobe has played in 198 playoff games in his career (good for 6th place all-time) and you can see that he is carrying a lot of mileage.

And its not just the heavy workload. Kobe has a well-documented history of playing through significant injuries. 

Just this week, Bryant had arthroscopic surgery on his knee. This is the third time that he has had his knee scoped.

While Kobe is relatively young at 32 years of age, he has already gone through more of the NBA rigors than many of the retired greats ever did.

Lets take a look at some of history's numbers and see what that might suggest for the remainder of Kobe Bryant's career.

If you were to compile a list of every NBA player who averaged more than 20 points per game for at least one season and began a season with more than 1,000 career regular season games, you would get a list of 30 players.

Kobe will be the 31st player in NBA History to meet these criteria when he begins the coming season.

Among these players are some of the all-time greats including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Julius Erving, and Dominique Wilkens. 

These players, together, averaged 20.5 points per game going into the season after they hit 1,000 career regular season games.

So how about that season after they hit the 1,000 mark? Together, they averaged just 13.78 points. That is a 33% drop in points per game.

Their rebounds took a similar drop at 31%, while their assists, as one might expect, held on a...

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