- Dave McMenamin, ESPN.com
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It was one thing for Lakers second-round draft pick Andrew Goudelock to draw comparisons to Nick Van Exel, a high-scoring yet low-to-the-ground guard (Van Exel is 6-1, Goudelock is listed generously at 6-3) second-round steal the Lakers acquired with the No. 37 pick back in 1993.
It was another thing entirely for Kobe Bryant, a once-in-a-generation talent, to compare Goudelock to himself.
"He’s not afraid to shoot," Bryant said Tuesday after Goudelock chipped in 12 points in the Lakers' rout of the Bobcats. "He’s got a little nickname now. We call him, ‘Mini Mamba.’"
It's no coincidence that Goudelock, the No. 46 pick out of the College of Charleston, has averaged 11.5 points on 50 percent shooting from the field and 57.1 percent shooting on 3-pointers (8-for-14) in 20.8 minutes in the last four games and the Lakers have gone 3-1.
After disappearing from the lineup for about a month when he opened up the season as Bryant's primary backup at shooting guard and re-emerged in Lakers coach Mike Brown's rotation as Derek Fisher's primary backup at point guard because Steve Blake went out with a rib injury, Goudelock has punched some life into the Lakers' stagnant offense.
"To have a guy that can just go play pick-and-roll and go create a shot for yourself or your teammate, that’s pretty neat to have," said Brown after Goudelock and the second unit's 48 points against Charlotte helped the Lakers top the 100-point mark in consecutive games for the first time all season. "You see other teams have them and we don’t have a ton of those guys."
While Brown sees other teams and counts their playmakers in relation to his roster, Goudelock simply sees red. After finishing fourth in the NCAA scoring race as a senior, averaging 23.7 points per game, Goudelock waited and waited on draft night as nearly two teams passed on him for every point he averaged last year.
"You try not to think about those types of things but that means 45 teams passed up on me," Goudelock said.
The draft night snub has been a clear motivator for Goudelock. He couldn't help but smile when asked about what it meant to him to put up 12 points, three rebounds and three assists in 25 minutes while the guy he was matched up with, Charlotte's No. 9 draft pick Kemba Walker, finished with 12 points (on a worse shooting line), six rebounds and six assists in 34 minutes.
"I think I’m just as good as everybody in that draft," Goudelock said.
He might not be as crazy as he sounds. While Goudelock's season averages are meager (4.0 points on 40.8 percent shooting in 10.0 minutes per game), his scoring average of 11.5 points over the last four games once he started to play significant minutes, would rank him fourth amongst all rookies trailing only Cleveland's Kyrie Irving (18.1 points), Detroit's Brandon Knight (12.3 points) and Walker (11.9 points). It would also put him ahead of much-hyped rookies like Minnesota's Ricky Rubio (11.4 points) and Sacramento's Jimmer Fredette (8.6 points).
Brown said Goudelock benefited from playing under coach Bobby Cremins at Charleston, who coached guys like Mark Price, Kenny Anderson and Stephon Marbury at Georgia Tech before they went on to become great NBA guards.
"Cremins ran a lot of pro sets for him," Brown said.
Goudelock also credited his former coach.
"He taught me everything about the attitude," Goudelock said. "We played big schools every year, it wasn’t like we weren’t playing competition, and we did pretty well on those games, so I knew coming here how it would kind of be."
The game that really put him on the map was his 24-point performance (including a 4-for-8 mark from 3) against then defending-champion North Carolina in an overtime win for the Cougars (which surely caught the attention of UNC alum and Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak).
Even though Goudelock is technically playing backup point guard right now, he's still expected to look for his shot as a shooting guard would.
"He’s doing what he does best. I don’t think it’s been a matter of him being aggressive, it’s been a matter of us putting him in positions to be successful and not expecting him to completely change his game," Bryant said. "He hasn’t been a point guard his whole career, so why start now? We drafted him for a reason and that’s for him to score the ball and that’s what he’s doing."
Bryant hasn't been the only Lakers' star to embrace Goudelock.
"It is impressive because it takes a certain kind of character, or personality to be able to accept that challenge and just go for it and understand that you have enough to belong and to be part of an NBA team or one of the top teams in the NBA, for that matter," said Pau Gasol, who knows how hard it is for a second-round player to stake his claim in the league because he saw his brother, Marc, go through it in Memphis. "So, it’s definitely impressive and I encourage him to continue to play the way that he’s playing and keep doing the things that he does out there for us."
As a second-round pick, Goudelock had nothing guaranteed to him. When he showed up for the Lakers' mini camp prior to the lockout, he was handed a No. 15 Ron Artest jersey that was lying around to pose in for his official team portrait. He simply held a ball over the number when it was time to pose and smiled.
Count the guy who used to wear that uniform, Metta World Peace, as another veteran on the 23-year-old rookie's side. Only World Peace tells Goudelock to pretend he's Allen Iverson when he's out there and think of the other four players out there with him as "the bums" (referring to when Iverson played in Philadelphia with offensively-challenged running mates like Eric Snow, George Lynch, Tyrone Hill and Dikembe Mutombo).
"I tell him to stop saying it because it embarrasses me," Goudelock said of World Peace's name for him before admitting that Iverson was his favorite player when he was growing up.
"Allen Iverson got buckets," Goudelock said.
So does he.
"I think the biggest thing is you got to have confidence against these guys," Goudelock said. "You can’t just go out there being intimidated, being shy. Then they’re just going to bust you in your mouth and you’re just going to look like a bad player."
Van Exel? "Mini-Mamba?" Iverson?
You'd have to say Goudelock is looking like anything but a bad player so far.
"You got to go out there and handle your business whenever your number is called," Goudelock said. "You can’t sit around and pout because you’re not playing. You can’t be mad about it, can’t be bitter about it, but when you do get your opportunity, if you want to stay on the floor you better do something with it."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.
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