The fine folks at ESPN Stats and Information have been digging for juicy little nuggets heading into Monday's media day kickoff to the 2012-13 season, and were kind enough to send them along.
Here are a few of the more interesting bits of information, along with milestones to watch for over the course of the year:
1. "Kobe Bryant enters the season 5th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, 1,935 points behind Wilt Chamberlain for 4th. Bryant has scored at least 1,936 points in each of the last six full 82-game seasons.
Most Points in NBA History
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 38,387
Karl Malone 36,928
Michael Jordan 32,292
Wilt Chamberlain 31,419
Kobe Bryant 29,484
Bryant is also 287 free-throw makes away from tying Oscar Robertson for 3rd on the all-time list for free throws made."
LOL: The moment eventually creating enough hype to explode the Internet will be when Kobe passes Jordan -- theoretically possible this year (Kobe's career high for points in a season is 2,832) but far more likely coming in 2013-14 -- but hopping Wilt is pretty monumental, too. That Kobe has been picking off different players on different lists for the last few seasons shouldn't desensitize people to the achievement. We're talking about Wilt Chamberlain, here.
2. "In 33 games before the break last season, Metta World Peace averaged just 4.9 PPG on 33.5% from the field -- and 23% from 3-point range. But after the break, he averaged 10.7 PPG in 31 games on a more respectable 43% from the field and 33% from 3-point range."
LOL: MWP's awful first half was directly tied to the shape in which he arrived at camp. Specifically, round. And while round can be funny, it's not a good look for a pro baller who lives off his defensive mobility. After he lost weight and got his body together, World Peace's effectiveness rose drastically on both sides of the floor. This year, by all accounts MWP arrives in great condition, physically. Given how linear his job description will be -- lock down the opposition's best wing, hit the occasional wide open corner 3 -- a healthy, fit Metta could be the perfect complement to the four potential All-Stars around him in the starting lineup.
3. "NEXT-LEVEL: Kobe Bryant led the league in usage percentage last season. Usage percentage is the percent of team possessions used by a player when on the floor. The last time Bryant had a usage percentage below 30 percent for a season? In 2003-04 (28.6), when he played alongside Shaquille O’Neal, Karl Malone and Gary Payton. But even in that season, Bryant’s 28.6 usage percentage was a team high."
LOL: Kobe Bryant is going to be a high-usage player, appropriately so. But that the last time he was below 30 came when surrounded by another star-studded lineup (in which the stars weren't as bright as this year's group) means something. During the Lakers' two recent championships when his help was more consistent, Kobe's usage was lower, as well. I'm among those believing big picture the Lakers (code for Kobe, let's be honest) won't have significant issues sharing the ball. There could be some muscle memory Bryant has to unwind and at some point he'll be criticized for forcing a shot (or shots) when another option would have been better, but overall Kobe will see the talent around him as an opportunity, not some kind of threat. If nothing else, he'll share the sandbox just to spite those who think he can't.
4. "The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that it's just the FOURTH TIME IN NBA HISTORY a team added two players in one offseason who had each been previously chosen for the All-Star game six or more times. The Lakers will hope to follow the path of the Celtics from five years ago -- Boston won the title after it acquired both Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in the summer of 2007.
Added 2 Players In Same Offseason Each Selected To 6+ All-Star Teams
2012 Lakers Steve Nash Dwight Howard
2010 Celtics Shaquille O'Neal Jermaine O'Neal
2007 Celtics Kevin Garnett Ray Allen
2003 Lakers Karl Malone Gary Payton"
LOL: Encouraging. Toss out the '10 Celtics, because the O'Neals were total shells of their former selves at that point. The '07 Celtics won in the first go with the Big Three, and even that '03 Lakers team, remembered as a monumental failure by some, still made the Finals and might have won had Malone not been injured. Top-end talent reigns supreme in the NBA, and the Lakers now have a ton of it. Moreover, the architecture of the starting lineup is outstanding. These aren't a bunch of square pegs that have to be forced into round holes.
5. "Nash is 225 assists away from tying Magic Johnson for 4th on the all-time assist list, a mark he will likely pass while wearing a Lakers uniform.
Most Career Assists NBA History
John Stockton 15,806
Jason Kidd 11,842
Mark Jackson 10,334
Magic Johnson 10,141
Steve Nash 9,916
LOL: He likely won't pile up assists at the same rate as in Phoenix. Still, assuming Nash stays healthy he's a shoe-in for at least 600 assists this year, which would push him past Magic in the first third of the season, give or take. He would have done it anyway, so I suspect fans would rather Nash equal Magic in a Lakers uniform.
6. "33 -- combined No. of All-Star selections of the Lakers projected starting 5 of Kobe Bryant (14), Steve Nash (8), Dwight Howard (6), Pau Gasol (4) and Metta World Peace (1)."
LOL: Did I mention the Lakers had a lot of top-end talent?