According to ESPN.com, Kobe Bryant is the 40th-best player in the NBA.
The sports website ranks nearly every player in the league annually prior to the season. Last year, Bryant was slotted 25th, with uncertainty surrounding his Achilles injury. The Lakers’ All-Star guard managed just six games after suffering a knee fracture.
Notable players who rank higher than Bryant include LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers), Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder) and Chris Paul (Clippers).
Also ahead of Bryant: Goran Dragic (Phoenix Suns), DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors), Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors), Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons), Andre Iguodala (Warriors) and DeAndre Jordan (Clippers).
Bryant took exception last season to his ranking at 25; he’ll have 39 players to target at 40.
Point guard Jeremy Lin is the next-highest Laker at 100. Veteran forward Carlos Boozer (137) just barely beats out Kentucky rookie Julius Randle (149).
High-scoring guard/forward Nick Young (150) is slotted right behind Randle.
Young took exception recently to the ranking, tweeting, "[I don’t care,] there [are] not a 149 [people] better than me in this league #ESPNHigh.”
Other Lakers on the list include Jordan Hill (165), Ed Davis (185), Steve Nash (246), Xavier Henry (262), Ryan Kelly (281), Wesley Johnson (318), Robert Sacre (382), Wayne Ellington (394), Jeremy Tyler (419) and rookie Jordan Clarkson (448).
Injuries have certainly hurt Nash’s stock, plummeting from 88 last year — and 19 before the 2012-13 season. Bryant was sixth in 2012.
Veteran guard Ronnie Price wasn’t ranked. Camp invites Roscoe Smith, Jabari Brown and Keith Appling were also left out.