Kobe Bryant falls to No. 54 in SI’s Top 100 NBA Player rankings

After playing just 41 games over the last two seasons, the 18-year veteran is no longer a top 50 player in the NBA.
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Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant is ranked No. 54 in Sports Illustrated’s list of Top 100 NBA Players of 2016, which was released in part on Monday.

Sports Illustrated's Rob Mahoney and Ben Golliver unveiled their rankings of players 100–51, and slotted the 17-year veteran just outside the Top 50, behind Tony Parker, Rudy Gay and Ty Lawson.

Here is Golliver on the decision to rank Kobe Bryant at No. 54:

Indeed, there is a pretty good case to be made that Bryant shouldn’t be on this list at all. Bryant had the worst effective field goal percentage (.411) of any NBA player to take at least 700 shots. Nevertheless, Bryant’s usage rate (34.9%) was second-highest in the league, trailing only Russell Westbrook. Simultaneously, Bryant had the worst defensive rating (112.6) of any player that logged at least 1,000 minutes, and he ranked 81st out of 91 shooting guards in Defensive Real Plus-Minus. That’s what happens when you gamble off the ball with Donald Trump-like discretion and play transition defense like a flabbergasted tourist whose money belt has just been ripped off his waist in broad daylight.

In last season’s rankings, Kobe came in at No. 24, ahead of All-Stars DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall.

Bryant, 37, has played just 41 games over the past two seasons, and has had three straight season-ending injuries. In 2014–15, the Lakers’ worst season in franchise history, Bryant shot 37% from the floor in 35 contests.

• SI's Top 100 Players of 2016: 100–51 | Top 100 Snubs | Top 100 Process

Lakers part-owner Jim Buss recently told the Los Angeles Times that the team was preparing for Bryant to retire after the 2015–16 season. Bryant has maintained that he is undecided on retirement.

Bryant is in the final year of his contract with the Lakers, which will pay him $25 million, more than any player in the NBA.

The full explanation for Bryant, and the list of players ranked 100–51, can be found here. Players ranked 50–31 will be revealed Tuesday on SI.com.

GALLERY: Best NBA players by jersey number

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- Kenny Ducey