How Kobe Bryant Can Be Perfect Mentor for Julius Randle

Julius Randle will need some guidance during his rookie season with the Los Angeles Lakers, and Kobe Bryant will be the man to give it to him.

Randle will be a 19-year-old power forward by the time training camp hits, and Bryant’s tutelage will more than likely be welcomed.

Kobe was once upon a time a straight-out-of-high-school youngster joining the professional ranks to play with grown men, which was likely a tall order. Bryant was slightly younger than Randle will be when he makes his NBA debut.

An argument could be made that Kobe wasn’t ready to step in at the time and contribute when he joined the Lakers.

Bryant was a young man learning on the job, which made him a little green in terms of basketball and team dynamics. That changed over the course of his career, and Kobe became L.A.’s leader through trial and error, as ESPN LA’s Brian Kamenetzky reports:

Over the course of now 17 seasons in L.A., the demands on Kobe as a leader have changed. Earlier in his career, Bryant's role wasn't as expansive. He didn't so much lead (not in the way we traditionally think of the word, at least) as get out front in a very competitive environment and drag guys with him through will, stubbornness, and on-floor talent.

In time, though, as more has been required Bryant has adjusted. He's softened the edges, grown less insular, and learned you can't be that guy all the time and expect people to follow.

Bryant has gotten a grasp of the buttons he must push to get his teammates playing at a high level. In the case of Randle, Kobe will have to figure that out and then execute.

Interestingly enough, Bryant probably has an idea of what Randle is made of. Similarly to Bryant, Randle was one of the top high school prospects in the nation. Although Bryant didn’t attend college, his rookie year in the pros offered some interesting parallels...

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