Why Kobe Bryant Will Re-Assert Himself as Top-5 NBA Superstar in 2012-13

Is Kobe Bryant a Top-5 NBA superstar in today’s league?

This is the polarizing question. Ask some people and they’ll scoff at the question. Of course, he’s a superstar and one of the top ones at that. He’s Kobe Bryant. In fact, they’ll probably annoyingly throw his middle name in there when they say that.

Ask everybody else and they’ll ask you if you’re posing that question from 2010, only to quickly remind you this season will end in 2013.

The idea of a superstar in the NBA is such a bizarre thing, and ranking the stars of the NBA is even more peculiar.

There are guys that both the eye test and the advanced stats seem to love, like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade.

There are guys like Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin and Kevin Love that the stats adore but the eye test just really likes.

There are guys that the stats are fond of and the eye test like to flirt with, but the allure of their marketability makes them superstars. We call these guys Carmelo Anthony.

And then there’s someone like Kobe Bryant. The stats do love him but not as much as his fans do. The eye test loves him but it requires some selective memory to continue a legacy he spent a decade building up as one of the most impressive résumés ever.

Kobe Bryant is such a tricky player to still assess. It’s natural to remember the player he was and pretend it has a lot of carryover into the present day. And on some level, maybe it does.

There are a lot of players and coaches that still fear Kobe Bryant, even if the majority of his non-fans might be wincing at his end-of-game shooting numbers. The perception is he’ll rip your heart out and step over it like it’s the Tyronn Lue to his Allen Iverson.

There are some nights in which that’s true. Kobe can still go on runs and his numbers last year were ...

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