Bazemore and Brooks look up to Bryant

February, 21, 2014
Feb 21
2:24
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- One is a 6-foot-5, 24-year-old shooting guard. The other is a 6-foot-5, 25-year-old shooting guard. They both suddenly find themselves teammates with a certain 6-foot-6, 35-year-old shooting guard in Kobe Bryant, the player they grew up modeling their games after.

It didn't take long for Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks, the newest members of the Los Angeles Lakers acquired from Golden State for Steve Blake earlier this week, to reveal how they have been molded by the Black Mamba.

"At first I was in shock," Bazemore said, recalling how Warriors general manager Bob Myers and coach Mark Jackson broke the news about the trade. "Then (Myers) said, 'Los Angeles, like, the Lakers,' and I was like, 'Oh my god! That's a dream come true.'

"Growing up, idolizing Kobe Bryant. He's probably, hands down, one of the greatest players to ever touch the basketball."

Brooks shared similar sentiments.

"I grew up a Lakers fan, a big Kobe Bryant fan, so I'm just excited to get to work," the third-year veteran out of Providence said.

Bazemore, who has been teammates with Brooks since the Warriors traded for him from Boston in January, said that Brooks has a game that is more like Bryant's.

"MarShon is reminiscent of, he used to get it in college, of the young Kobe Bryant with the fro and how he moves," said Bazemore, adding that Brooks is "one of the smoothest players around."

Brooks averaged 12.6 points per game as a rookie with the then New Jersey Nets, but has seen his scoring average dip to 5.4 points per game last year and just 2.6 points points this season in 17 combined games with Boston and Golden State.

When asked to describe his game, Brooks said: "I can score the ball, pretty much. Play make. Just make things happen, create my own shot."

While Brooks has tried to replicate Bryant's offensive skills, Bazemore has emulated Bryant's will.

"Kobe Bryant arguably has the greatest ticker in sports history as far as a guy that wants to get the job done and it's kind of contagious," said Bazemore. "I watched him growing up and you could see the fire in his eyes. When I put on the Lakers jersey tonight, hopefully I get some of those same powers going."

When asked to describe his game, Bazemore said: "Energy. Just bringing energy, whether it be on offense or defense."

Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said that both Brooks and Bazemore would play anywhere from 10-25 minutes against the Boston Celtics on Friday, despite only arriving in L.A. on Thursday afternoon and going through just one brief shootaround with the team Friday morning.

"Hopefully we don't put too much in their mind to bog them down and let them just flow and play and try to make it simple for them as much as we can," D'Antoni said.

D'Antoni's easy-going, open attitude with his offensive system was already appreciated by both Bazemore and Brooks.

Said Bazemore: "It's good for guards like myself that like to get up and down and use my length and athleticism to run the wing, get in the pick-and-roll, get in the lane and finish. He's a very player-coach type of guy that likes to joke around with you, but all he asks for is just to play hard and give it your all."

Added Brooks: "I've proven I could score in this league. Just so much space on the court -- they like to play with four shooters around one big -- that's just a lot of spacing and I'm excited."

Outside of their mutual respect for Bryant, Bazemore and Brooks are also in the same boat when it comes to their murky NBA future. Both players have contracts that expire at the end of the season and are trying to find their NBA footing.

Brooks might have had that big rookie season, but he has collected a DNP-CD in nine out of the Warriors last 13 games.

"This year I haven't really had the opportunity to play at all," said Brooks. "I haven't really played meaningful minutes at all."

Bazemore might have had a 26-point game in the Las Vegas Summer League against the Lakers (leading to Lakers officials "giving him crap" for the performance on Friday, according to Bazemore), but he has averaged just 2.1 points in 105 games in the NBA.

"Obviously they're in the pros, so they got talent and we'll try to fit them in," said D'Antoni. "Each one is a little bit different. Bazemore is long and rangy and a defender and Brooks is a good offensive player. More than that, I don't know. We'll (get to) know their personalities and we'll see what they can do."

Dave McMenamin

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Nick Young
PTS AST STL MIN
17.9 1.5 0.7 28.3
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsP. Gasol 9.7
AssistsK. Marshall 8.8
StealsJ. Meeks 1.4
BlocksP. Gasol 1.5