Los Angeles Lakers News: Kobe Bryant Ranked 6th-Best Player in NBA by ESPN: Too Low; Fair?

By Melissa Siegel, Posted: 09/26/12 03:10PM EDT

ESPN's annual ranking of the top 500 players in the NBA is winding down, and those hoping Kobe Bryant's performance last season would propel him into the top five will be sorely disappointed.

The Los Angeles Lakers guard is No. 6 on ESPN's list after being ranked seventh a year ago. Bryant is behind Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Chris Paul and Derrick Rose. The order of the top five will be revealed on Thursday.

Bryant finished last season averaging nearly 28 points per game, but that was not enough to lift him more than one spot on the list. The voters from ESPN and the TrueHoop network gave scores based on "the current quality of each player." However, that criterion is hard to judge for both Howard and Rose, since they are each coming off major injuries.

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Rose tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in April and will likely miss the start of the regular season. He still passed Bryant on the list after being ranked eighth in 2011. Howard, meanwhile, missed the end of last season after undergoing back surgery but could still be back in time for the start of the regular season. He was ranked second last year behind James.

Bryant is ranked ahead of several players who were above him on last year's list. Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade dropped from third to eighth, and Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki dropped from fifth to eleventh.

Meanwhile, Durant, James, and Paul were all ranked ahead of Bryant a season ago as well.

Each voter ranked a player on a scale from zero to 10. Bryant's score actually declined from a year ago, going from 9.40 to 8.88.

What do you think of Bryant's ranking? Should he be in the top five? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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