Kobe Bryant is one man who you can count on as being fairly consistent. This is evident in his play, will to win and even on the stat sheet. So what's important to look at with him is off-court intangibles—things that may affect his play, or the play of those competing against him.
This offseason, Kobe is already taking care of business. According to Kevin Ding of the OC Register, it's believed that the Black Mamba is currently in Germany undergoing the same procedure on his knees that he had done last year.
His play between the two years is not accurately reflected on the stat sheet. The main difference was that he averaged two points more this season than last, but he was also must faster and spry. He didn't appear stiff, and dare I say, old. So, by these stats, we can project that he'll continue to score around 27 points, or he'll average a couple more. Most importantly, he'll be able to keep his intense, high-level of play.
Another thing that will happen in the offseason is the 2012 Olympics, which he will be playing in, from all appearances. This will keep his head in the game. He's not used to having long offseasons in recent history, so these last two years have been different for him in that respect.
Kobe will have the chance to play with the elite in the NBA—other people who think like him and want to win. In an interview Kobe did on 710 ESPN's Max and Marcellus show, he said what keeps him going is the young people. He wants to keep up with them and show that he's still got a lot of basketball left in him. He'll get to do this in the Olympics.
Now, this can either keep him in shape and give him confidence or it can wear down the effects of the treatment he got in his knees. He probably shouldn't be putting more miles on them than is necessary, but no one will really know the effects of the Olympics until the postseason next year. So, his stats will likely remain the same, until the regular season is over. Then, all bets are off.
There's also the issue of his marriage. Kobe and his wife Vanessa have seemed to reconcile their differences, and all is well on the home front. The problem with this is that Kobe almost seems to play better when he's in personal crisis. His court case in Denver was a perfect example, or even when news of the divorce broke, and Kobe played unaffected.
He's extremely good at compartmentalizing his life and mind, so it really shouldn't affect him too much, but you never know. Clearly, he wants to keep his marriage together, so maybe now that it's not a problem, he can focus. This is another intangible that's impossible to predict, but it's something that can certainly have some sort of outcome.
We also don't know what team will be around him next year. If he has an elite point guard, like Deron Williams, he may get even more points because he won't have to work for his shots. What the Lakers management does will affect his stat line too.
So, when it comes down to predicting Kobe's statistics for the 2012-2013 season, there's no real way of knowing. You can count on a few things though, as they have changed very little over the last five years.
He will average somewhere around 26 points, four assists and five rebounds per game. He will be an All-Star. Finally, he will want to win more than anyone else on the court and will do everything possible to make it happen.
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