The poll is in third year of existence and ranks players from No. 500 to No. 1. with votes being taken midway through the summer. Each member of the ESPN panel was asked to rate each player on a 0-to-10 scale, in terms of “the overall level of play for each player for the upcoming NBA season.”
In 2011, the poll ranked Bryant seventh overall and in 2012 had him as the sixth best player in the league. Last season, he averaged 27.3 points per game, which is the highest scoring average for any player playing in a season where they began the year at least at the age of 34 and finished fifth in MVP voting.
Last year’s rankings also had Derrick Rose at No. 5 and Andrew Bynum at No. 13 despite each player recovering from major injuries, so with that being said pushing Bryant out of a top 10 ranking in the league appears to be a bit of a head scratcher.
Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford took to Twitter on Wednesday to voice his disagreement with the Bryant’s lowest ranking the poll’s three year history.
— Jamal Crawford (@JCrossover) October 16, 2013
Bryant’s drop in the ranking could be attributed to the Achilles injury he suffered at the tail end of last season, which has lead to many members of the media questioning whether the 15-time All-Star would be able to return to the high level play from such a catastrophic injury.
Notable players who have suffered this injury such as Isaiah Thomas, Elton Brand, and Chauncey Billups did not regain the explosiveness in their foot and were never the same players as they were prior to the injury.
There is also the Reuters Health study conducted this past June found that from 1988 to 2011, 18 NBA players suffered a tendon rupture and seven athletes of those players never returned to play another game in the league, which is a list that includes Isaiah Thomas.
There are players such as Dominique Wilkins, who suffered a torn Achilles in the 1991-92 season and returned the following year showing no-ill affects averaging 29.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game that also earned him the NBA Comeback Player of the Year award.
Nobody is questioning Bryant’s will or determination to come back from the injury but rather the doubt is coming from whether his body will allow him to complete such a daunting task. If there was one player that would not surprise anybody to see break this mold it would be Bryant.
Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Bob Garcia IV
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