Kobe Bryant just can’t give up the spotlight.
The five-time NBA champ is putting up some of the most atrocious numbers of his career this season (15.5 PPG on 30-percent shooting from the field and 20-percent from three) on a 2-14 Lakers team that’s going to contend for worst in the league.
If quality of play determined who gets all the fan and media attention, Kobe and the Lakers would be relegated to a blip on a sidebar, and all the front-page ink would be spilled on the still undefeated Golden State Warriors (19-0).
But Kobe figured out a way to stay in the limelight: announce that he’s retiring at the end of the year. Now, no matter how poorly he and the Lakers play, the man-named-for-a-beef will get a Jeter-like farewell tour as he makes his final appearance at arenas around the league.
The next stop on that tour will come tonight in Philadelphia (Kobe’s hometown), where the Lakers will take on the only team below them in the standings, the 0-18 Sixers.
Who’s going to win the Association’s ultimate battle of futility? What lies ahead for Kobe at the end of the year? And what are the chances the Warriors achieve historic levels of greatness? We take a look at the current odds for the NBA’s biggest storylines.
Kobe Bryant Odds:
O/U on Kobe’s highest single-game point total in 2015-16: 38
- Kobe hasn’t surpassed 24 points this season. But he still takes a ton of shots on a nightly basis (19.6 per game, which is actually slightly above his career average of 19.3). One of these games, they’re going to fall at a reasonable rate and it’s going to look like vintage Kobe, if only for a brief, fleeting moment. See last year’s 44-point performance against the Warriors as a case-in-point.
Odds Kobe plays in the 2016 NBA All-Star Game: 1/3
- “I thought you said Kobe was playing terribly?” you might be saying right now. He is. But guess who determines the starting lineups: the amorphous, unthinking hoard known as the fans. Kobe played pretty poorly last season, too, and still ended up as the second-highest vote-getter in the league (behind only NBA MVP Steph Curry). Now that he’s on his farewell tour, the Kobe faithful are going to stuff the ballot box like never before.
Odds Kobe wins the 2016 NBA All-Star Game MVP: 6/1
- Kobe has won the award a record four times. He comes to play on All-Star weekend. That said, his last All-Star MVP came in 2011. Even if he gets the nod from the fans, he just doesn’t have the skills (or likely energy) to win another, unless, of course, he gets the sympathy vote.
O/U on games played for Kobe in 2015-16: 65
- He hasn’t played a full season since 2010-11, only managing 35 games last year and six the year before that. Even if he doesn’t suffer an injury of the season-ending variety, he’s likely to get some nights off to rest his aging bones. But with this being his final season, he’ll probably try to suit up as much as possible.
O/U on Lakers wins in 2015-16: 23
- They won 21 last year. They don’t look much (any?) better this year.
Odds Kobe plays in the final game of the regular season: 1/4
- It’s at home against the Jazz after a three-game road trip. If he’s healthy, it would make for a nice final farewell for Kobe and Laker fans. Of course, so would the team’s second last home game against the Clippers on April 6.
Odds Kobe plays for Team USA in the 2016 Olympics: 6/5
- Kobe wants to play. The question is whether he deserves a spot. USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo has hinted that Kobe is in the running. If he makes the squad, it will be for his leadership abilities, not his on-court play.
Odds Kobe gets a statue at Staples Center: 1/50
- If Luc Robitaille can get a statue in Star Plaza, Kobe is beyond a shoo-in.
Odds Kobe becomes majority owner in the Lakers in the next ten years: 25/1
- Back in 2012, Kobe stated that he didn’t think team ownership was for him.There’s no reason to think that’s changed. Also, will the Lakers be for sale in the next ten years? Don’t think so.
Odds Kobe buys a stake in another NBA Franchise in the next ten years: 10/1
- Some owner will be looking to part ways with his team, but that doesn’t change the fact that Kobe isn’t interested in ownership, at least not publically.
Odds the Lakers get first pick in the 2016 draft: 13/3
Odds Warriors finish with best record in NBA history: 14/13
- Despite what analysts say, the ’95 Bulls are very much in play. Golden State’s expected win percentage is at .913, which would put them at 74 wins. They do still have 11 games against the Spurs, Thunder, Cavaliers, and Clippers, teams they went 8-5 against last season. And they’ve scored over 100 points in every game this year. Is that a sustainable pace across a full season?
O/U on wins for the Warriors before their first loss: 4.5 more (23.5 total)
- Seven-game road trips are never easy and if Golden State was going to slip up, it would be understandable if the first loss comes over this stretch. The Raptors, Pacers, and even the Nets (who took them to OT on Nov. 14) could all end this run in the next week.
Odds Luke Walton is an NBA head coach next year: 1/4
- The Rockets and Timberwolves will already be entering the offseason looking for coaching help and more teams will join them. What Walton has done to help lead this group (while Steve Kerr recovers from back surgery) won’t be overlooked, no matter who’s getting credit for the wins.
Odds for which will hand the Warriors their first loss:
- Indiana Pacers: 9/4
- Toronto Raptors: 3/1
- Brooklyn Nets: 6/1
- Charlotte Hornets: 7/1
- Milwaukee Bucks: 7/1
- Boston Celtics: 9/1
Odds Steph Curry wins NBA MVP: 2/5
Odds the 76ers finish with worst record in NBA history (eight wins or fewer): 9/5
- Philly is terrible, particularly their backcourt. But it takes a special breed of terrible to win only eight games. The Sixers opened last season losing 18 straight but rallied to finish with 18 wins. When Tony Wroten returns, this team should suck less. But it’s a bad omen is that Philly is shooting .414 from the field, the same percentage the 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats shot (the current worst team in history).
O/U on losses for the 76ers before their first win: 2.5 more (20.5 total)
- A visit from the Lakers is their best chance at a W perhaps this whole season. If it doesn’t happen tonight, it won’t happen for a while.
Odds the 76ers get the first pick in the 2016 draft: 7/2
Odds on which team will lose to the 76ers first:
- L.A. Lakers: 1/1
- New York Knicks: 13/2
- Denver Nuggets: 6/1
- Brooklyn Nets: 7 /1
- Detroit Pistons: 11/1
- Toronto Raptors: 14/1
- San Antonio Spurs: 20/1
Alexander Paruk and Eric Thompson
(Photo credit: Keith Allison (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.)