Kobe Bryant has not started to run on the court yet, but the Lakers star has begun shooting without jumping as the next step in his recovery from a torn Achilles' tendon.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times / September 28, 2013)
Kobe Bryant often finds motivation in the media. Counting Bryant or the Lakers out only adds fuel to his fire.
Consider the match lit.
Ranking the top 500 players in the NBA, ESPN has given Bryant an overall rank of 25.
Bryant, who is currently recovering from a torn Achilles' tendon suffered in April, is a question mark for opening night on Oct. 29.
ESPN clearly doesn't expect Bryant to return to the same form that saw him ranked sixth overall before last season.
Despite his age (35), the Lakers All-Star averaged 27.3 points and 5.6 assists a game in 78 appearances last season.
The ESPN asked a panel of 215 experts to "predict the overall level of play for each player for the upcoming NBA season. This includes both the quality and quantity of his expected contributions, combined in one overall rating."
Bryant is ranked immediately behind Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat.
ESPN previously ranked the Lakers as the 12th best team in the Western Conference.
Bryant still doesn't have a target date for his return, but he's begun to ramp up his activities after months of rehabilitation.
Look for a response from Bryant, be it on social media, on the court -- or likely both.
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Email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.
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