Kobe Bryant is having one of the best regular seasons of his career. He's even playing better than in 2008, when he won his only Most Valuable Player award.
But if the award was given today, the Lakers' all-time leading scorer would probably finish behind Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and maybe LeBron James in the voting. A 15-15 record will have that effect.
In his defense, Bryant has played most of this season without Steve Nash at point guard, and that has had an adverse impact on the entire team. Prior to Nash's return, the Lakers had slipped all the way to 9-14 and were in serious danger of leaving the playoff hunt before it ever really began.
The Lakers are 6-4 in their last 10 games, but more importantly 6-1 in their last seven. The one bump in the road was a lackadaisical loss at Denver following a big Christmas-Day victory at home over the Knicks.
With Steve Nash back orchestrating the Lakers' offense, Kobe Bryant has been able to concentrate on what he does best: score.
After setting a record for most consecutive games of 30 or more points for a player 34 or older (10), Kobe Bryant looked like an MVP in the Lakers' blowout last Friday against Portland. In just 31 minutes, he went for 27 points on 50 percent shooting. He also added five rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Kobe Bryant is the leading vote-getter for the All-Star Game so far and is having perhaps the best season of his career, which bodes well for his MVP chances.
For Bryant to actually win the award, the Lakers must continue to get better and run off some impressive streaks.
With an ever-improving lineup that finally includes Steve Nash, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard and Bryant simultaneously, his chances increase with every victory.