Report: Kobe starting to model his game after Paul Pierce
AUG 29, 2014 4:20a ET
Kobe Bryant missed 76 games last season and the Los Angeles Lakers struggled to a 27-55 record, the franchise's worst mark in the five-time champion's 18-year NBA career. As he returns from knee and Achilles injuries, Bryant is looking for ways to remain effective in all areas of the game during the final stages of his career.
"In preparing for this season, Bryant told friends that the player he is analyzing, as an example of adjusting your game as you get older, is fellow 36-year-old Paul Pierce. This is part of his goal to become 'more efficient' on the court," Ballard writes. "Said Bryant, 'I'm going to max (my last two years) out too, to do whatever I can. Leave no stone unturned, no water left in the sponge.'"
Bryant is used to being one of the most agile players, but recent injuries plus 1,465 regular-season and playoff games have taken away a lot of his speed and quickness. Pierce never has been the most athletic player on the court, so he relies on his basketball smarts, head fakes and a quick first step to create his own shot. Pierce also uses his strength well in the post, which allows him to back down smaller defenders and get to the foul line. His footwork — an underrated part of a small forward's game — also is tremendous.
Bryant showed no signs of slowing down before last season. He averaged 27.8 points and shot 86 percent from the foul line during the 2012-13 campaign (78 games). If he can adopt some of Pierce's moves, Bryant could perform at an All-Star level this season.
Then again, the writing may be on the wall for both players. Pierce averaged career lows in both points (13.5) and minutes (28) last season, his first in Brooklyn.
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