Part of the reason that Kobe Bryant has been able to stave off Father Time thus far is his changing skill set.
While young Kobe relied on his athleticism and the powers of his afro to dominate the opposition, older Kobe is becoming craftier and just simply more skilled.
Just as Michael Jordan added a fadeaway to his arsenal as he aged and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar continued using his unfair sky hook, Bryant has added shots to his game. This season, the weapons of choice seem to be face-up jumpers and ridiculous spinning jump shots that result in fadeaways. The degree of difficult for Bryant's game is off the charts, but somehow he consistently hits his shots.
Here's a sampling of Facebook messages that I sent to a friend during the Los Angeles Lakers' battle with the New York Knicks:
"Do you think Kobe realizes that the shots he attempts are too difficult or does the I NEED TO CATCH KAREEM though trump everything else. Not that it matters since he hits them all."
"Watching Kobe is hilarious sometimes. Goddamn. Kobe is just incredible."
"Holy **** how did he make that!?!?!"
"How good is Kobe?"
Kobe's skill set has advanced to a point that he's going to be able to continue to score at an elite level deep into his 30s.
Although he's still making the vast majority of shots he attempts at the rim, Kobe is starting to take less attempts there. This season, he's only attempting 3.2 shots per game in that area of the court, down from 3.5 the season before. From 2007-2010, he averaged 5.1, 5.1, 4.4 and 4.9 shots per game at the rim, respectively.
Meanwhile, his shots from the 10- to 15-foot range and the 16- to 23-foot range are as high as they've ever been. The latter category took a particularly large jump as he's now attempting 8.7 shots per game from the 16-23-foot range and making 44 percent of those attempts, both of which are higher than any other year since the 2006-2007 season.