Not only has the one-time MVP and 13-time All-Star displayed transcendent individual skill over his career, averaging 25.3 PPG, 5.3 RPG and 4.7 APG, but he has been able to translate his skill into winning five world championships—that’s greatness.
So, how in the world can Bryant be considered as the most overrated player in the NBA?
The answer: Bryant’s outstanding legacy is clouding the perception of his current, realistic talent level.
Many continue to argue that Bryant is still the best player—a statement that is no longer valid. Best implies that Bryant currently possesses the most talent out of everyone in the entire league.
It is clear that Bryant’s physical deterioration, as a result of 15 grueling seasons, has hindered his individual ability.
There is no doubt in my mind that Bryant didn’t have a solid 2010-11 season, as he averaged numbers close to his career averages. However, it was evident that he had trouble defending some of the elite players in the league, such as Miami Heat's dwyane Wade.
In the playoffs, Bryant wasn’t physically able to carry his team to victory, while averaging only 22.8 PPG.
On the other hand, players such as Dwyane Wade and LeBron James had phenomenal seasons—seasons that reflected an exceptional talent level, greater than Bryant’s.
Wade had a PER of 25.65 and averaged 25.5 PPG and 6.4 RPG. In addition, he had a marvelous defensive season, averaging 1.1 BPG and 1.5 SPG.
James, who had PER of 27.34, averaged 26.7 PPG and 7.0 APG and 7.5 RPG.
Despite the numbers, Bryant continues to be mentioned the best player in the game, although his individual performance doesn’t reflect it.
Those who believe Bryant is still the best usually argue Bryant’s legacy—rambling on about how Bryant has won five championships, has been named to several All-Star teams, etc.
However, what they don’t realize is that legacy is not the same as current impact.
Kobe Bryant was once the best player in the league, but times have changed. While new players have emerged, Bryant’s skill has diminished, which is why to call him the best player in the world right now is the same as calling him the most overrated.