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The Los Angeles Lakers season thus far has been marred by negatives: a 1-4 start led to the firing of head coach Mike Brown; Steve Nash has played in just two games due to injury; the Lakers currently have a 9-12 record.
The only Western Conference teams that have been worse than the Lakers so far are the Houston Rockets, Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns and New Orleans Hornets. Not only are the Lakers not going to even sniff the Chicago Bulls' single-season record of 72-10, but if the season ended today, they wouldn’t even make the playoffs.
The lone bright spot for the Lakers this season has been Kobe Bryant.
At 34 years old, Bryant is playing arguably the best basketball of his entire career. Bryant’s shooting percentages—48.2 percent from the field, 39.8 percent from three-point range and 87 percent from the free-throw line—are all career highs.
The scoring efficiency he has shown so far is unparalleled for a guy who is usually a volume scorer. He eclipsed the 30,000-point threshold this season as well, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain.
The only thing that could be better for Bryant this season is a winning record. What's truly baffling, though, is that the Lakers are 1-9 this season in games where Bryant scores 30 or more points, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
This has been a frequent problem for Bryant. When the Lakers get everyone involved, they're a vastly superior team. When it's just Bryant doing the bulk of the scoring, the Lakers become one-dimensional and don't win games on a regular basis.
Despite his age, Bryant is playing perhaps the best basketball of his career and is showing no signs of slowing down.
As is usually the case, the Black Mamba is in the running for the league’s scoring title.
Current average: 28.6 points per game