On Jan. 9, San Antonio’s DeMar DeRozan scored 38 points in the Spurs' overtime victory against Minnesota. None of his made field goals was a 3-pointer. The longest shot he made came from 19 feet. It was an efficient 13-for-23 shooting from the field and 12-for-13 on free throws – a masterpiece of mid-range jumpers and buckets at the rim.
It was a performance Kobe Bryant would have loved. It was a trademark Bryant game, the kind Bryant produced hundreds of times during his 20-year NBA career.
Perhaps no current NBA player emulates the spirit of Bryant’s game than DeRozan, who grew up in Los Angeles watching Bryant emerge as one of the game’s greatest players in the late 1990s and 2000s. By the time DeRozan entered the NBA in 2009, Bryant had won four league titles, an MVP award and a Finals MVP honor.
“For me, Kobe was my imagination,” DeRozan told the All the Smoke podcast in a recent interview. “Growing up when I started to understand and comprehend basketball at a young age, it was from Kobe and being a Lakers fan.”
It’s just not DeRozan who modeled his game after Bryant's.
Bryant’s influence runs deep in the NBA. Many of today’s players grew up watching Bryant and modeling aspects of their game after him.