Kent Bazemore quickly making an impression with Lakers
Two straight games for newcomer Kent Bazemore -- two straight career highs.
The Lakers traded Steve Blake for the second-year guard/forward on Wednesday (along with MarShon Brooks). On Sunday, Bazemore made the first start of his NBA career.
In a loss to the Brooklyn Nets, Bazemore scored 17 points in 29 1/2 minutes. In his first appearance with the Lakers, a win over the Boston Celtics, Bazemore chipped in 15 points off the bench in almost 33 1/2 minutes.
How has Bazemore handled the transition from a sparsely used reserve with the Warriors to a full workload with the Lakers?
“I feel great. I’ve been working hard all year, conditioning and extra workouts, going up and down,” said Bazemore after the loss to the Nets. “I’m pretty much used to the physical banging.”
“Thank God I had been working,” he continued. “If I hadn’t ... then I’d be dead tired and not taking advantage of this opportunity.”
Bazemore, 24, is in the second year of his career after entering the league undrafted out of Old Dominion, where he was won the Lefty Driesell Award in 2011 as the best defensive player in college basketball.
The Lakers got a good look at Bazemore this past July in Las Vegas, where he averaged 18.4 points on 44.0% shooting as the leading scorer of the Warriors’ summer league squad.
Perhaps the 26 points he scored on the Lakers in Las Vegas played a part in the Lakers’ decision to make a deal with Golden State.
Even while out of the Warriors’ rotation, Bazemore kept himself motivated.
“I don’t have a relaxed mode. I’ve got to go, go, go,” he said. “Sometimes I’m like, ‘Man you’ve got to slow down a little bit,’ but I want to play it that way so I’ve got to get into that type of shape.”
“It’s just showing that the work I put in prior to this moment is definitely paying off.”
As the Lakers try to finish out a broken season, they’re looking for young players who are worth keeping long term.
Bazemore is under contract for $788,772. The Lakers can make him a restricted free agent with a $1.1-million qualifying offer.
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