Los Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott has jokingly suggested that Kobe Bryant should be included in the MVP conversation this season.
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The MVP race this year is one of the most thrilling in a long while, with Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry widely expected to win the award.
However, the likes of James Harden, Russell Westbrook and LeBron James are all considered tough competition, and it could go down to the wire in the regular season to determine who takes it home.
Harden has carried the Houston Rockets to the second seed in the Western Conference while Westbrook has been on a triple-double tear this season with 11 so far.
Meanwhile, James is considered the outsider given he missed two weeks earlier in the campaign, but the Cleveland Cavaliers star has still been vital to his team.
Scott has now thrown another name into the mix, and unsurprisingly it is Bryant who has played in just 35 games this season.
“I’m biased. I think Kobe should be in the conversation,” Scott said, according to Baxter Holmes of ESPN.
Bryant averaged 22.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists during his time on the court, but another injury cut his campaign short as he was ruled out with a shoulder injury.
Having undergone surgery and begun his rehabilitation process, the 36-year-old will hope to be fully fit by training camp later this year ahead of what is expected to be his final season in the NBA.
The Lakers are 20-56 for the season after a losing campaign last year, and they will be desperate to strengthen the roster in free agency and in the Draft in order to end their misery and compete for the playoffs again.