Can Kobe Bryant Pay It Forward with Dante Exum?

Heading into his final two seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe Bryant may have an opportunity to close out the chapter in an unexpected way—by mentoring Australian sensation Dante Exum.

There’s a major hurdle to cross first on June 26, as the NBA holds its annual draft night. Exum, an 18-year-old combo guard, hired agents Rob Pelinka and Brandon Rosenthal of Landmark Sports Agency in January and then declared for the 2014 draft.

If Pelinka’s name rings a bell, it may be due to the fact that he happens to represent Bryant as well.

The NBA superstar has been mostly sidelined this season by a fractured knee. The injury came just six games after returning from Achilles surgery. Without Bryant, the Lakers have been in a free fall and now have one of the worst records in the league.

They also happen to have a first-round draft pick this year.

One of the fiercest competitors the sport has ever known, Bryant is no stranger to being helped along the way, and in turn, helping others. He has referred to Jerry West as "my mentor friend” and has become increasingly involved in guiding new generations of Laker guards, including current teammates Jodie Meeks and Nick Young.

Per Jon Tuxworth of The Canberra Times, Exum recently spoke about the man he believes could help shape him: "A reason why I signed with the agent I'm with is he has Kobe Bryant, and he's been through this when he came into the NBA. I guess having him as a mentor who can guide me through what he did, and how he became successful, is something which is pretty good."

Exum is multi-positional, but Pelinka is marketing him as a point guard for the upcoming draft. The Aussie phenom stands 6’6” with a 6’9.25” wingspan and has blow-by speed in transition.

Add a high basketball IQ, excellent handles, an explosive first step and plenty of vertical lift, and you’ve got...

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