After getting lit up for 60 points by Kobe Bryant in his final game in a Los Angeles Lakers uniform, the first person Gordon Hayward wanted to call to help him improve his game was apparently Bryant himself.
In a (very good) feature on the state of the Utah Jazz, Zach Lowe of ESPN revealed that Hayward “quietly reached out to Kobe Bryant to see if the retired superstar might tutor him on the art of the midrange,” a request Bryant granted by having Hayward spend a week working with him in Newport Beach.
"He's one of the best to ever do it," Hayward told Lowe, "and it was one of my best weeks ever."
Lowe isn’t kidding when he said the work “paid off” for Hayward. The Utah wing is scoring 23.3 points per game while shooting 42.2 percent from 15-19 feet (aka the midrange), which is especially impressive considering he missed the start of the season with a finger injury.
Hayward has additionally only turned the ball over 7.5 percent of the time while using up nearly 30 percent of the Jazz’s possessions while on the floor.
His season has been impressive enough that he looks like an enticing target for the Lakers’ max cap space this summer, and the Lakers had better hope Bryant either a) made him agree to sign with the Lakers in exchange for the lessons or b) showed him the virtues of living in Newport Beach.
All stats per NBA.com. Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.