Is Derrick Rose Really Better Than Kobe Bryant Right Now?

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer ISeptember 29, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 25:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers greets Derrick Rose #1 of the Chicago Bulls before the game at Staples Center on December 25, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

If you haven't heard, Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant once again failed to crack ESPN' s top five in their player rankings, but what makes this year's list even more interesting is that Bryant is rated behind a player who may not even suit up until sometime after the New Year.

ESPN.com and the TrueHoop network ranked Bryant sixth, which is a one spot improvement from his ranking last year, but how do they explain rounding out their top five with Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose?

The same Rose who is currently recovering from a major knee injury and will probably not be available until late in the 2012-13 season. And even then, it's doubtful Rose will look anything like the NBA's 5th best player when he does return.

Athletes recover from ACL injuries all the time, but in Rose's case the injury specifically affects the part of his game that makes him special.

Rose is one of the quickest and most explosive guards off the dribble in the NBA, but unfortunately, knee injuries can potentially rob a player of those attributes while affecting other things like lift and lateral movement, as well.

Hopefully Rose has a speedy and successful recovery, but ESPN's list is supposed to be based on the top players entering the 2012-13 season and right now Rose does not fit the description.

Maybe ESPN didn't want to stack the top five with players from Los Angeles since Bryant's new teammate Dwight Howard was ranked third and Clippers' point guard Chris Paul claimed the 4th position.

If that's the case, ESPN should have chosen someone else to round out their top five, because it's border-line disrespectful to rank a player who will start the season on the injured list over a healthy Bryant.

Especially when you consider that it would be difficult to call Rose a better player than Bryant even if he was healthy.

Last season, Bryant averaged more points and rebounds than Rose and shot for a similar percentage, yet Rose managed to leap over Bryant and improve three places from his ranking of a year ago?

I'm certain some people will point to the Bulls' ability to clinch the NBA's overall top seed for the second consecutive year, and their subsequent complete collapse after Rose's injury as evidence of his merit as a top five player. But none of that is relevant to ESPN's current player rankings.

It's possible that ESPN is just trying to create hype over their annual list by once again dissing Bryant, which is something that Lakers fans have become accustomed to.

Lakers fans feel Bryant is never given the proper respect he deserves, and whether that is true or not, ESPN certainly has no issue with stoking that flame.

Bryant is famously known to use sleights, whether perceived or real, as motivation for his next challenge and there is no reason to believe this season will be any different.

Last year, ESPN ranked Bryant seventh and he ended up battling Kevin Durant down to the wire for the NBA's scoring title.

However, with a new cast of superstar teammates Bryant will be chasing another type of title this season, and while he may not be the sixth best player in the NBA, the number six is probably all that Bryant really cares about, anyway.


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