If you spend any time perusing mock drafts, you'll generally see a few options for the Los Angeles Lakers, who are picking at No. 7 in the June 26 proceedings.
Some have Noah Vonleh falling to the Lake Show, as DraftExpress.com does. Others, like Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman, have Julius Randle being taken off the board at No. 7 and throwing on a purple and gold uniform. NBADraft.net has Marcus Smart joining the backcourt in Hollywood.
Aaron Gordon, the standout freshman forward from Arizona, isn't the most popular pick in these mocks, but don't tell him that. During his weekly diary for SlamOnline.com, the 18-year-old wrote the following about playing for the Lakers:
L.A. is the next stop. That should be fun. The Lakers are a great program. It’s a traditional program, so I think the level of intensity will be way up.
If I ended up playing with Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, that would be absolutely insane. I would want to know everything that they know. I’d be attached to Kobe at the hip. I’d be attached to him and Steve Nash.
There are far worse players to learn from.
At the moment, Gordon is set to make a mark with his insane athleticism and defensive energy. He was one of the better point-preventing players in collegiate basketball during his one and only season with the Wildcats, and his physical tools should give him an opportunity to guard both interior and perimeter scorers at the next level.
"Aerial theatrics aside, it’s the defensive end where Gordon truly shines—he can guard three or four positions, has great footwork and lateral mobility and is able to wall off opponents without picking up the foul," wrote Bleacher Report's David Murphy.
There's a reason he led the NCAA in defensive win shares during the 2013-14 season, per Sports-Reference.com. Actually, there are a lot of them.
However, his offense is still a work in progress.
And who better to imitate than a certain shooting guard who has made a career out of torching defenses with tough jumpers, intelligent play and timely uses of his own impressive hops?
Honestly, the first thing I thought of when hearing this Gordon/Kobe connection was a quote from Jay King of MassLive.com:
When asked about the prospect of guarding small forwards, specifically LeBron James, Gordon’s eyes lit up.
“Oh, man, I can’t wait. That’s extremely exciting,” he said. He wasn’t calling himself a LeBron stopper or anything crazy like that, but he obviously takes pride in his defense.
You can't teach that kind of competitiveness. You can't help someone gain the desire to face challenges rather than avoid them.
Wanting to guard the best player in basketball as a rookie sounds like something a young Kobe would announce to the world, and that type of fire is exactly what would immediately endear the Arizona product to his potential veteran counterpart in L.A.
Maybe it really would be "absolutely insane" to see these two playing together.
Then again, it's not like the Lakers have any bad options at No. 7.
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