Kobe Bryant: Team Selections Prove He's the Most Overrated Player in the NBA

Daniel M.Correspondent IIMay 13, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 02:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts late in the fourth quarter while taking on the Dallas Mavericks in Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 2, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. The Mavericks defeated the Lakers 96-94. 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 Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

This week, the NBA announced the All-NBA and All-Defensive Teams. Kobe Bryant was on both teams. To make it worse, he was on the First Team of both teams.

The NBA has gone too far. He didn’t deserve those selections. He’s the most overrated player in the NBA.

If you ask me, he shouldn’t have made the All-Defensive Team, not even the Second Team. It’s an embarrassment that he’s tied with Michael Jordan, Kevin Garnett and Gary Payton, three of the greatest defensive players ever, for the most All-Defensive First Team selections. He doesn’t come close to these players. 

He’s been labeled “the next Michael Jordan” since his early years back in the late 90s. The NBA is so desperate to find the next Jordan that they will do anything to make it look as if they finally found him.

Here come the All-Defensive selections. Bryant can’t match Jordan in stats, rings or awards. So a good way to make him more like “the next Michael Jordan” would be awarding him the All-Defensive selection. 

He hasn’t always been the best defensive player of his own team, yet he’s always the one making the All-Defensive Team.

For instance, since Ron Artest joined the Lakers, he’s being the best defensive player of that team, yet he was left out of the All-Defensive Team, while Bryant made the team. This is a disgrace. This is how overrated Bryant is. 

This season was one of the worst in Bryant’s career. Everything was on the decline, including his defense. He was older and slower, playing fewer minutes than last season. Scorers would score over him easily. 

Statistically, I don’t know where to begin. He averaged 1.2 steals per game, his worst since his second season back in 1998. He didn’t even lead his own team in steals and was tied with Derek Fisher for second on the team. Come again. Tied with Fisher? No comments there. 

In blocks, he was even worse with an average of 0.1 blocks per game, which is 12 blocks in 82 games played. What? Twelve blocked shots in 82 games played? Is that stat even real? Yes, it is. 

Bryant wasn’t even the second best of the Lakers in terms of Defensive Win Shares, yet he’s the one that made the All-Defensive Team (not the first time this happens). 

As you can see, Bryant’s defense is so overrated. It’s an embarrassment that he has so many selections to the All-Defensive Team, especially the First Team. 

Take Phil Jackson’s words: 

“Kobe’s defense, to be accurate, has faltered in recent years, despite his presence on the league’s all-defensive team.  The voters have been seduced by his remarkable athleticism and spectacular steals, but he hasn’t played sound, fundamental defense. 

"Mesmerized by the ball, he’s gambled too frequently, putting us out of position, forcing rotations that leave a man wide open, and doesn’t keep his feet on the ground.” 

Jackson said this in his book “The Last Season: A Team in Search of Its Soul.”

When it comes to the All-NBA Team, it isn’t that bad, but it’s still bad. No doubt Bryant has been one of the greatest guards of his generation. But was he always the best shooting guard? Was he always one of the best two guards in the NBA? The answer is no.

It’s the main reason why he doesn’t have more All-NBA First Team selections. But in my opinion, he should have fewer. Including this season, Bryant has been awarded four All-NBA First Team selections when he clearly wasn’t the best shooting guard or one of the 2 best guards in the league. 

We begin in 2002 when Bryant received his first selection to the All-NBA First Team. The other guard selected was Jason Kidd. I have no doubt in my mind that Kidd was the best point guard in the NBA that season. Now let’s talk about the other guard. But first let's look at Bryant’s stats in 2002: 

25.2 ppg (46.9 FG %), 5.5 rbg, 5.5 apg, 1.5 spg  

Those are pretty good stats. He would be my other guard for the First Team that season, if it wasn’t for another guard who had a better individual season. His name is Allen Iverson. These are his 2002 stats: 

31.4 ppg (42.0 FG%), 4.5 rpg, 5.5 apg, 2.8 spg 

Iverson wins in scoring and steals. They are tied in assists and Bryant wins in rebounds by just one rebound, despite the fact that Iverson is just 6’0. 

Not only did Iverson win in these stats, but he also led the league in scoring and steals. Yet he didn’t make the All-NBA First Team. The scoring and steal leader didn’t make the All-NBA First Team, while Bryant, who didn’t lead the league in anything, did make it. 

People may use Iverson’s low FG % or the fact that he missed 22 games. First of all, the guy was 6’0 for Christ’s sakes, so a 42 % for a 6’0 guy averaging over 30 points is not bad.

Second, a low FG % or many games missed didn’t stop Bryant from making the All-NBA First Team in 2004. 

Now in the 2003-04 season we have a situation. Bryant was one of the two best guards that season. But what interests me is the fact that the All-NBA Second Team had three forwards. One of them was Tracy McGrady.

It was okay to leave him out of the First Team, because Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan were already on the First Team. But if the NBA was willing to put three forwards on the Second Team, why didn’t they do it for the First Team?

After all, McGrady did have a better individual season than Bryant. McGrady led the league in scoring and averaged more rebounds and assists than Bryant.

Of course. the answer to that question is that the NBA didn’t want one of its stars, the one labeled as the “Next Michael Jordan,” who was playing for the Los Angeles Lakers by the way, off the First Team.

In the 2008-09 season Bryant again was chosen for the All-NBA First Team over another player that was clearly better than him. The other guard selected was Dwyane Wade.

Wade had one of the best individual seasons in NBA history. He deserved to be there. Now the other guard was supposed to be Chris Paul, not Bryant. These are Paul’s stats: 

22.8 ppg (50.3 FG %), 5.5 rpg, 11.0 rpg, 2.8 spg 

That is one of the best individual seasons for a point guard in NBA history. He also shot 36.4 % from the three-point line and 86.8 % from the free-throw line, both better than Bryant’s. The only stat Bryant had over Paul that season was scoring. Yes, the only stat.

Paul even averaged more rebounds than Bryant that season! He led the league in assists and steals. For the second time, a leader in two main categories is left out of the First team in order to put Bryant there, who didn’t lead the league in anything. This is unbelievable. 

Now we are in the 2010-11 season and Bryant was selected to the All-NBA First Team. Derrick Rose, being the Most Valuable Player of the season, deserved to be there. But Wade was clearly better than Bryant this season.

Wade averaged 0.2 more points than Bryant, despite the fact that Bryant took 2 more shots per game. Wade also averaged more rebounds than Bryant. I know, Gasol, Bynum and Odom were there to grab rebounds, but LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem (before he got injured) were on the Miami Heat to grab rebounds.

People will also say that with Bryant’s decreased minutes, he would have less chance with the rebounds. Well, Wade averaged 6.4 rebounds per game. Bryant has been able to match or surpass that average just once in his career.

So I doubt Bryant would’ve averaged more rebounds with more minutes. Wade also averaged more steals and blocks and had a higher FG %. 

When looking at the other stats, Wade also wins in Player Efficiency Rating, Offensive Win Shares, Defensive Win Shares, Offensive Rating, Defensive Rating and Win Shares per 48 Minutes.   

Bryant, having the luxury of being the main playmaker of his team and a higher Usage Percentage (league leader), only managed to average 0.1 more assist than Wade. 

Bryant’s decreased minutes shouldn’t be used to justify his low stats, since playing fewer minutes means he can’t play at a high level for longer periods of time. 

As you can see, Bryant is so overrated. He didn’t deserve the only MVP he has won. He has so many All-NBA and All-Defensive selections he didn’t deserve. His fans say he’s the best player of his generation. Some of them say he’s top 10, top 5, even second or greatest of all time. 

One reason why he’s so overrated is to make him look close to Jordan. Another reason is the fact that he’s playing for the Lakers. For instance, the NBA wouldn’t want the star of its most popular franchise off the All-NBA First Team. 

Bryant is a great player, but he’s also the most overrated player in NBA history.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.