Passing the torch: mentors and proteges on Sports Illustrated’s NBA preview

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SI — Lakers

Class is now in session.

One week before the National Basketball Association tips off its 2015-16 season, Sports Illustrated’s preview takes a look at how each team’s star players will act as mentors to the new breed of players of their franchises.

SI - WolvesMinnesota Timberwolves rookie Karl-Anthony Towns with Kevin Garnett

A standout from Kentucky, Towns was Minnesota’s No. 1 overall pick from this year’s NBA Rookie Draft. He shares the limelight with the Garnett, a former MVP, who led the Timberwolves to the Western Conference finals in 2004.

Although Garnett has only seen action in five games since being traded back from the Brooklyn Nets last season, he is sticking around to help the Wolves mold the team’s younger players.

SI -- LakersD’Angelo Russell and the “Black Mamba,” Kobe Bryant

A former Ohio State standout, Russell joins five-time NBA champion Bryant in Los Angeles with hopes of once again bringing the Lakers to the promise land.


unknownLaMarcus Aldridge and Tim Duncan for the San Antonio Spurs

Duncan has been San Antonio’s go-to-guy for most part of his 18 seasons in the NBA, same thing with Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili at different chapters of their respective careers.

But the surge of Kawhi Leonard, and the addition of Aldridge, a four-time All-Star, to the roster, is a definitive sign of the changing of the Spurs’ landscape.

And despite playing a smaller role for San Antonio last year, Duncan was able to maintain his efficiency and on-court leadership and he hopes to pass that on to Aldridge.


SI -- HeatMiami Heat rookie Justise Winslow and Dwyane Wade

Winslow, the 19-year-old former Duke Blue Devil, is Miami’s highest draftee since it picked Michael Beasley in 2008, and he is expected to blossom under the wings of Wade, a three-time NBA champion.

And according to Wade, a bond is already forming between him and the newbie.

“It’s just passing down knowledge to someone who I think could be good at things I think I have strengths at,” Wade said. “It’s going to take a while. But if he figures it out at 21, he’s ahead of the curve. I figured it out at like 27. So I’m just trying to help him get ahead.”

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