Laker Draft: First Impression

Kurt —  June 28, 2005

Since the Shaq trade, Laker fans have had to be patient and point to the 07-08 and 08-09 seasons, when (with the right moves) the Lakers could be back.

Andrew Bynum fits right in with that. If he grows into his potential, in 08 he is going to be a force to be reckoned with inside. He will anchor the team inside (with Mihm at the four or as a backup) to go with Kobe outside. If this works, Mitch Kupchak will have the steal of the draft and be hailed as Westian. But, it could flop as Bynum never develops (or has weight issues), at which point, Mitch will be thrown into a shark tank at the Long Beach Aquarium. As Tenlay said in the comments during the draft, Mitch may well be remembered for how this pick pans out.

What this pick does not do is help the Lakers much next year — Bynum is raw. The Lakers are going to have to make trades or get free agents to fill the obvious needs for a point guard who can defend and a shot blocking/rebounding presence inside. Next year’s Lakers are no better than last year’s Lakers after draft night. Phil Jackson does not like playing rookies much, so maybe going the free agent/trade route is what he wants in the short term. But bringing in the needed players is a set of moves only the most optimistic (or drunk and deluded) Laker fans have complete confidence in Mitch pulling off.

Bynum is the long term. He overpowered kids in high school (he’s 7-0, 300), using his size and not needing to develop polished post moves. Now, every night, he’s going to see players close to his size and just as strong. There are questions about his footwork, and because of that his ability to defend active NBA big men. But there is time to improve all that. If he can polish and add to his game, he can become a great force. — I like what he said to AP after being drafted:

“I want to bring back the skyhook, which Kareem left behind there. That’s one of my favorite shots.”

I also love the first of the Lakers two second round picks, Ronny Turiaf. The Gonzaga star is not going to be an NBA star, but he works hard and plays with a nasty streak in the paint. A guy like that, coming off the bench, is something every team can use, particularly the Lakers who kept bringing in Brian Cook as a power forward to hang out at the three-point line. He’s not going to get a lot of playing time in the triangle, but like Luke Walton a couple of years ago he fits a need and his effort may get him more time as the year goes on.

My guess is Von Wafer will be the first Laker sent to whatever NDBL team they hook up with. The Florida State product is a Phil-style guard in that he’s 6-5, and he was his team’s three-point specialist. The down side is that he is considered a defensive liability. If he wants it, if he goes down to the NDBL and busts his butt, there is room on every team for a guy who can drain the three consistently. You just can’t be a black hole at the other end.

Kurt

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