After watching helplessly as Kobe Bryant dropped a surreal 60 points on the Utah Jazz in his final NBA game, Gordon Hayward figured he could learn a thing or two from The Black Mamba over the summer.

Hayward had Bean impart lessons on the art of the midrange game during the offseason, and the results have thus far been impressive.

Hayward, 26, will be one of the most coveted free agents on the market in July.

Per ESPN (via Lakers Nation):

He ran through sets without a ball, and started watching film of his workouts. “I wanted to see: Am I doing it right every single time?” Hayward said. “I think there is a still a big leap for me, and I want to get that out of myself. I couldn’t do the same stuff I’ve been doing every summer. I wanted to be uncomfortable.”

 

He quietly reached out to Kobe Bryant to see if the retired superstar might tutor him on the art of the midrange. He ended up spending a week with Bryant in Newport Beach. “He’s one of the best to ever do it,” Hayward said, “and it was one of my best weeks ever.”

 

It paid off. Hayward is having a career season. He’s a legit All-Star candidate who does everything well. He powers through contact, and shoots his mid-rangers with a little less lean. His core is so solid, he widened his stance at the foul line to improve his balance; Hayward is shooting a career-best 89 percent from the stripe.

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