After getting swept by the Dallas Mavericks, the Los Angeles Lakers now encounter what may be a more challenging foe: age. That starts with star Kobe Bryant, who will turn 33 in August and is now a 15-year veteran. How much longer can Bryant continue to play at his current All-NBA level? The answer to that question looms large for the Lakers' future.
Basketball Prospectus' SCHOENE projection system is designed to provide a general guide to questions like this. SCHOENE begins by finding comparable players of the same age based on weighted performance during the previous three seasons, then looks at how these peers developed in the years to come. Naturally, in Bryant's case, most similar players were beginning to decline. Of the 50 players whose stats were closest to Bryant's in 13 categories, including height and weight, 71 percent saw their overall per-minute performance decline the next season.