Kobe Bryant: Lakers Star a Lock to Win 2nd Career MVP

Stephen Sheehan@@StephenPSheehanCorrespondent IOctober 19, 2012

Kobe Bryant will add a second MVP award to his trophy case this year.
Kobe Bryant will add a second MVP award to his trophy case this year.Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Kobe Bryant's lengthy resume features five NBA championships, 14 All-Star selections and just a single MVP award, but thanks to the Los Angeles Lakers' additions of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, that will change this season. 

The 34-year-old shooting guard may have a ton of wear and tear on his legs, but the future Hall of Famer is destined for his second Maurice Podoloff Trophy as his career with the Lakers winds down.

It's almost criminal that one of the league's all-time greats has a championship ring for every finger on one hand yet has managed to win only one MVP award in 16 years. 

Bryant has maintained a prolific scoring pace despite playing in 1,381 combined regular-season and playoff games—all with the Lakers. 

The Lakers' No. 1 scoring threat has battled through lineup and coaching changes, injuries and a new wave of superstars to maintain a 25.4 scoring average, while also earning accolades for his defensive skills. 

As the 2012-2013 season inches closer, what should fans expect from No. 24? 

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Provided he and his newest teammates jell quickly, this could be one of the most productive seasons of Bryant's storied career. 

Both Howard and Nash—who boast a combined 14 All-Star appearances—give Bryant two giant upgrades over their predecessors. 

Sure, Andrew Bynum developed into an All-Star in his own right last season, but his occasional lapses in effort, especially on defense, still caused problems in L.A. 

In Howard, the Lakers now have a fantastic low-post scorer and a ridiculously athletic rebounder and shot-blocker at the center spot. As long as Howard is at 100 percent after back surgery, he will give the Lakers a fantastic post presence that should free up Bryant along the perimeter. 

However, while Howard should do a lot of the dirty work down low, Bryant's path to a second MVP award will be paved by Nash. 

Though he's certainly lost a step at age 38, the dazzling point guard will set Bryant up to match his own two MVP awards. Playing alongside one of the best passers in history should rejuvenate Kobe, who was forced to work with underwhelming guys like Ramon Sessions and Steve Blake last season. 

In Nash, Bryant will have a guy who can knock down shots and dish the ball, which should prevent defenses from constantly double-teaming Bryant. 

That trio has special potential, and that's not even factoring in Pau Gasol—a four-time All-Star in his own right. 

Because of Gasol's versatile skill set—especially his great passing ability—Bryant should be free to slash to the basket or even hang around the three-point line on kick-outs. 

LeBron James and the Miami Heat still have to be the favorites in the East, but with the Lakers' renovations, expect great things from Kobe Bryant's team this season, beginning with another MVP trophy for No. 24.