With LeBron James opting to joining Dwyane Wade in Miami, Kobe Bryant instantly became the de facto best player in the NBA.
Yet next season, he's going to cement his place at the top of the NBA through his performance on the court.
People say Bryant is old and on the downward part of his career.
Yet he's only turning 32 in August. In Michael Jordan's final stint with the Chicago Bulls, he was in his mid-30s.
Bryant may have been in the league longer than Jordan and thus played more minutes, but with the improved conditioning techniques and rehabilitation, players can play longer.
Body condition aside, Kobe's statistics have held relatively constant over the past few seasons. Sure they are not as high as during the mid-2000s, but that was also when he had no teammates he could rely on.
Between two seasons ago and last season, he improved in points, rebounds, assists, and steals.
Those statistical spikes were moderate.
This year expect Kobe's output to rise significantly.