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Lakers: Kobe Bryant Mentors Teammate Jeremy Lin on Defense

( [email protected] ) Oct 14, 2014 07:18 PM EDT

Jeremy Lin and Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers teammates
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

Twelve-time NBA All-Defensive Team player Kobe Bryant has been mentoring new Lakers teammate Jeremy Lin during the preseason, specifically focusing on improving his defensive game. Lin, who has made defensive improvement a personal goal for the past couple of years, is grateful for his newfound relationship with Bryant - "He's challenging me to expand my perspective ... I think that's really important, and that's something that I love doing. It's a blessing that he's here in the same locker room," he says.

Kobe Bryant, who has been known for both his offensive and defensive prowess in the past, is taking the time to help Jeremy Lin develop on defense. "He's pushing me and he's demanding a lot from me, and he's definitely taken on a mentorship role for me on the court," Lin says.

Functioning as the backup point guard for a recovering Steve Nash, Lin is expected to have substantial playing time during his first year in Los Angeles. Nash, who has suffered several injuries in seasons past, asked to be taken out of Sunday's exhibition game against the Golden State Warriors because he was feeling ill. Lin sat out for the Warriors game as well after injuring his left ankle during Saturday's practice, and Bryant used some of his time on the bench to instruct Lin on defense.

"I'm really going to challenge him to be a great defensive player-because he can [be]," Bryant said of Lin - "He has the speed, he has the length, he has the size. He has never had to take on that challenge, but I think he can be a great defensive player."

Lin says he appreciates Bryant's attention to detail and desire to mentor him - "It's just nice to have somebody who's pushing me and helping me, teaching me the tricks ... It's also nice when he's one of the best to ever do it, even on the defensive end."

According to The Bleacher Report, head coach Byron Scott says that Lin's ankle is feeling better and that he may play in Thursday's game against the Utah Jazz - "Thursday is going to be pretty much a game-time decision. I think he'll feel better by Thursday," he said.