Contract Status: Under contract
As the Lakers ascended to the top of the Western Conference standings in 2007-08, Kobe elevated his status as the NBA’s top player, winning his first Most Valuable Player Award in what was arguably his best season to date. While Bryant began the regular season with a 45 point assault against the Rockets in a performance that was indicative of the scoring load he’s had to carry for the past three years, #24 ended it as the best all-around player in the game. Over the course of the season’s 82 games—of which the guard played in every one—Bryant averaged a team-high 28 points to go along with six rebounds, five assists and nearly two steals. Although the MVP didn’t treat fans to as many big-scoring nights this season—mainly because the team didn’t need him to—Kobe erupted for a season-high 53 against the Grizzlies on March 28.
With the emergence of Andrew Bynum as a secondary scoring option and the mid-season acquisition of former All-Star Pau Gasol, Kobe excelled at letting his teammates find their games, as evidenced by the Lakers’ 109 points per game average. Looking ahead to next season, Bryant will no doubt continue his growth as a team player, now with even more options as Bynum and Gasol will finally share the court together as Lakers. His role on the team will essentially remain the same next season, but Kobe will likely see even more open looks with two dominant big men on the block.