Early Draft Thoughts

Kurt —  April 5, 2006

With a few days off for the team, and the NCAA tournament just concluded, I felt like looking ahead to the draft and what kind of players might be around for the Lakers to get.

My first thoughts: It’s not great. This is considered a weak draft, and after looking at what might be around when the Lakers draft 26th (the Miami pick), what I see are really second-round guys. Basically, we’re talking about someone whose contributions will be more Sasha or Turiaf level, not much immediate help.

Here’s a preliminary list of a few guys who may be around by then, focusing on the two needs the Lakers have, a triangle-style point guard and a big man. The names come from the current predictions on NBADraft.net, however I looked around the web to learn more about the ones I haven’t seen. Which is a lot of them. And the disclaimer is that players will move up and down the board between now and June, and the Lakers could too — plus who knows how trades could change our needs. This is just a starting point.

Richard Roby, 6-6 guard, Colorado: He was the offensive leader for the Buffs, and can shoot the ball from the outside (35.6% from three point range) plus had a true shooting percentage of 54.2%. He’s quick and he’s long. However, his defense has been a question mark, and do the Lakers need another guy who can shoot but not defend the perimeter?

Maurice Ager, 6-5 guard, Michigan State: Maybe even a better shooter than Roby — shot 37.6% from beyond the arc and had a true shooting percentage of 58.1%. He’s long, as well. The couple times I saw him play I liked him, but he’s not a great ball handler. I thought his defense was good, but scouts say he needs to work on it and I’ll trust their judgment over me watching in a bar.

Rudy Fernandez, 6-6 guard, Spain: A Chad Ford Euro special. Apparently he can shoot, ball handle and is athletic but is a little thin. Reading scouting reports on him reminds of the Sasha V. reports.

Josh Boone, 6-10 power forward/center, UConn: A beast on the boards, particularly the offensive ones — he grabbed 13% of the available offensive rebounds this season. Not shockingly, most of his points seem to come from put backs or inside passes he just has to dunk. Also a good shot blocker. The knock on him is desire, like much of the UConn team, he seems to take nights off. Of course, that was the knock last year on Charlie Villanueva, and he turned out to be a steal.

Hilton Armstrong, 6-11 center, UConn: Boone’s teammate, he is also a beast on the board — pulled down 16.8% of defensive rebounds, 8.1% of offensive ones — plus is a great shot blocker. But, like Boone, not considered polished on offense, although he did shoot 60% from the floor last season. Could he play alongside Bynum in a few years (or be his backup)? With few quality big men in this draft, he may not be around for the Lakers.

Paul Davis, 6-11 Center, Michigan State: I have to say I liked what I saw from him this season and think he will be a good backup center in the league. He shot a respectable 58% on the season, plus grabbed 24.5% of defensive rebounds and 11.3% of offensive ones. Not athletic enough to defend the best centers, but he isn’t bad. For the Lakers, a team that needs depth up front, he’s a solid option.

Kevin Pittsnogle, 6-10 power forward, West Virginia: NBADraft.net has the Lakers taking this guy, but after watching him in the tourney I don’t see it. I think he’s a poor man’s Brian Cook. Great outside jumper and range, but not much inside presence. And way less athletic than Cook — who is this guy going to defend?

Kurt

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28 responses to Early Draft Thoughts

  1. We do need help at the point, obviously, but I think our biggest concern should be acquiring an A+ perimeter defender to replace D. George. Next year we can’t expect Kobe to guard the opposing team’s best player and pour in 35 ppg. I doubt he will still be available, but I was extremely impressed with Corey Brewer during the tournament. Then I would use the mid-level on a pg (Claxton or James…as long as they’re salary demands aren’t ridiculous) I’m not sure it makes any sense to target a big in the draft (@ #26th is he going to be any better than MIhm, Kwame, Turiaf and Bynum?).

  2. Is Brewer coming out? I don’t know if he is. Chad Ford says he is being compared by scouts to Tayshaun Prince. That said, I’m afraid he wouldn’t be around by 26. The problem is, there won’t be much there big, small or in between that will really fill a need. I was leaning big just because I think you can do better at the guard/swingman in the free agent market.

  3. Brewer hasn’t announced either way (neither has Noah or Horford). I seriously doubt he will be available @ 26, but if Granger can fall to 17 I guess anything’s possible. What’s your wishlist during free agency?

  4. Brewer may be a classic draft case of a guy whose game likely would be better off with a year in school but his stock is never going to be higher after that tournament. Noah has to come out, along those same lines.

    My free agent wish list, it starts with a better defensive point guard. We have to stop penetration from small guards, it’s killing this team. Realistically, who can we get, likely for the MLE? Mike James would be my hope, but the MLE may not be enough.

  5. Great topic. My top five guys

    1. Quincy Douby- 6’3 combo guard avg. 24.8, led Big East in scoring, a lot like Gilbert Arenas, teams will let him slide, but as Areans has shown, there is a place for players that can score at will.
    2. Paul Millsap- 6’7 PF: has led nation in rebounding as freshman sophomore and this season (avg. 19 and 13)
    3. James White- 6’7 sf: athletic freak, back-up kobe, fill in for a soon to be departed George
    4. Hassan Adams- 6’4 sf: same thing as White
    5. Dee Brown- 6’1 pg: could be our new version of ty lue, but with better scoring ability, not much of a playmaker, but we have Lamar

    i like getting another guard because i would love to see Sasha out of the rotation, if not off the team, so even if we sign a guard we should have four to make sure kobe can actually get quality rest, he cant play these mins. forever

  6. Free agents wish list

    MLE
    1. Melvin Ely
    2. Bobby Jackson
    3. Speedy Claxton

    LLE
    1. Laron Profit
    2. Rasual Butler
    3.DJ Mbenga- shot blocker

  7. Quite possibly the best 2 minutes of my life:
    http://gorillamask.net/shawnbradley.shtml

    (by the way the Shaq clips made me cry)

    How exactly, do you analyze defensive prowess in college ball? You have no idea if any of these guys can cover someone like Dwayne Wade the way they cover some Walk-On JUCO player, which compared to Wade every college player is…do you look for physical clues such as Gorilla arms like Tayshaun Prince, in that case are there any PG’s with a Pterodactyl wingspan? Even “good” defenders get lit up by Steve Blake…..twice (I’m looking at you Kobe).

  8. Unlike your namesake, kwame a. is always bringing the “A” game, every time. Great comments.

    I like Profit for the LLE, if he’s healthy. Bobby Jackson could be a John Starks guy for the Lakers (but carrying less of the offense). Do you really think Speedy will only get the MLE? But more than that, I’m not sure he’s a great triangle fit, not a great three point shooter his game is about getting to the hole, a role Kobe and Lamar fill.

    And you must be more of an Ely fan than I.

    What I like about Millsap is he is a guy that just seems to short to play in the inside in the NBA, but he just gets things done on the court. He’s a basketball player, and he’ll find a way. I like Dee Brown a lot as well, from what I’ve seen.

  9. Smush is essentially a rookie. As much as I agree that we need a better defensive PG next year, I hold out hope that Smush may become that player.

    With the #26 pick, I would take the best player in the draft irrespective of position b/c it’s not realistic that we will find a starter at #26.

  10. Thanks Kurt, this is by far the best laker blog online, i enjoy it a lot.

    the reason I like Ely, is because the Lakers have 3 centers. I feel we should trade one (probably Mihm) and make the move to get Boozer. He is playing well (27 and 17 against San Antonio) and therefore I’d like another big off the bench that can play the 4 or 5, only guys that can do that are Wilcox (too expensive) and Ely, inconsistent, but hey, now that Odom and Brown are playing well, anything is possible

  11. That’s a very good point about the 26th pick.

  12. Unfortunately for Smush, he’s the guy getting burned by A.I. in one of those new “I Love This Game” commercials with the choir music and the Emerson poems …

    The #26 pick is not so hot, but I’ve been going through recent drafts, looking for late first rounders, and I’ve come up with this not-comprehensive list: Barbosa (#28, 2003), Josh Howard (#29, 2003), Tayshaun Prince (#23, 2002), Tony Parker (#28, 2001), J. Tinsley (#27, 2001), AK-47 (#24, 1999 — the pick right after Devean George).

    And that’s not to mention the second round gems like: Ginobili (#57, 1999), Michael Redd (#43, 2000), and Arenas (#31, 2001). So I guess I’d use these examples to agree with the idea of picking the best available player in the draft, and trying to fill the other needs through free agency.

    As a side note, I want to comment about Phoenix and their style of play. Their players can all plug in to their basic formula — run the court, hit the open jumper, and take the ball to the hole. If one guy tires out, they just sub for him and the band plays on.

    As it is, they really only have three basic plays: fast break (which they try to do even off of makes — sometimes they’ll push the ball up and get a score in under 5 seconds), pick and roll, and penetrate and kick. They’ll basically space the floor, and the man with the ball will penetrate and dish, repeating the process until either they get a play at the rim or find an open jumpshooter.

    Now, the Lakers aren’t great at transition D, stopping penetration, defending the pick and roll, or closing out on open jump shooters. The Lakers can probably pick one of those things to focus on and limit the Suns in that area, but not all 4. Just playing the percentages, it’s probably better to let the Suns take those outside shots and hope they don’t catch fire. Also, taking away penetration may limit their free throws.

    On the other end of the court, execution of the offense is the key. With their pace, the Suns average 100+ points against pretty much everyone except the Spurs, and even against SA they’ve averaged 48% FG (though just 31% from three). So it’s important to score 100+ yourself.

    Phoenix has been a “nemesis” for the Lakers. Not having back-to-backs may help, but if L.O. and Co. fall asleep for even a few minutes, the Suns can be up by 20 (3rd quarters, anyone?) I do think, though, if the Lakers can focus on one aspect on defense and limit the Suns in that area, and then slow the game down on their end and execute the Triangle, they’ve got a shot. The coaching staff will do their part to prepare the players, and Kobe is going to empty the tank, so the rest of the team just has to do its part.

    Sorry for the long post! This is a great blog, so hopefully I’m not bringing it down with my rambling.

  13. believe me, rudy fernandez is not a Vujacic kind.

    Rudy is the star of Juventud de Badalona, the team i’ve been following since i was a child and its more of a ginobili.
    has a great vision of the court, very good pass and nice ballhandle. the best thing he has is that defenders can’t stop him when he drives trough the basket.

    the worst thing about him… he need more muscle for the nba, is strong but i dont know if he will be able to be 100% at the NBA rythm. long gym sessions will help correcting that.

  14. notreallyimportant April 6, 2006 at 1:13 am

    While we are on the subject of ofseason acquisitions, will the Lakers try to get Kiki Vanderweghe, or is Kupchak’s job secure?

  15. Why do the Suns have our draft pick anyway?

  16. notreallyimportant April 6, 2006 at 2:28 am

    Well, when we got Mihm it went to Boston, then they sent it to Atlanta in the Antoine Walker trade, then the Hawks sent it to Phoenix in the Joe Johnson sign and trade.

    I really think that the Laqkers should arrange a trade soleley for the purposes of aquiring that pick. It would probably be some kind of record.

  17. It sounds like something Isaiah Thomas would do…

    The point I was trying to make (but completely forgot to make) about college defenders is that Defense, inherently, is completely a team concept. One player isn’t going to be a fix..

  18. The thing with that draft pick was even more complex because some of those trades were conditional. If the Lakers had not made the playoffs I think it actually reverted to the Celtics.

    Goo, yes good defense is a team thing, but it starts with having guys who can play man-up defense, the one thing you can judge to a degree in a college player. Although workouts against real NBA-level guys would matter too.

    Xavier, that’s why I love the Web, real first hand reports on guys. The stuff I read said Rudy had all the skills, and they said he was thin. Maybe he will be the best guy available at 26.

  19. I’m with P Henry – perimeter D is key, and probably the best buy if a big like Boone or Hortford isn’t on the board. One guy who nbadraft.net considers bubble 2nd round is Washington’s Bobby Jones. This guy is a disruptive, lock-down defender who would free up Kobe and Smush to play the passing lanes and save their energy for exploding toward the bucket. He’s an elite athlete who can finish on the break, cut for easy deuces from Odom or Walton, and above all has the competitive warrior blood that Kobe would respect.

    2nd round picks might be as valuable as first this year. Quincy Douby would add a spark and provide tougness Sasha lacks. Brazilian wunderkind Marcus Vinicius strikes me as a young Kukoc-type if we’re really attempting a Bulls-esque championship run in the next few years.

    Which brings up a good question – should management pattern the Lakers after the 90’s MJ-Pippen Bulls or the 2000 Shaqtastics? Triangle from the high post with cutters and spot-up big men, or triangle from the low-post with three-point threats and Kobe running the show(be)? Can Odom play lefty Pippen? Can Bynum play Nuevo-Shaq?

  20. 19., I think this is going to be more 90s Bulls style, simply because there just aren’t other Shaq’s out there. Maybe Garnett could do it, but Shaq was a physical freak (and still is, to a lesser extent).

    Even if the Lakers were able to swing a Mihm for Boozer deal, Boozer just becomes the Horrace Grant of that mix.

  21. Booze would surely fit that mold better–Jordan’s success (and, the effectiveness of a high-post triangle) relied on jumpshooting bigs, rugged rebounding, strong ball movement and rabid perimeter D to create fast breaks. Hortford would fit this mold beautifully if they could trade up for him.

    The Bynum selection, however, is not at all conducive to that style–why skip out on Danny Granger (defender, passer, shooter, rebounder) for a purely low-post prospect? Of course this is assuming Mitch has a plan to maximize the Phil-Kobe assests he has…

  22. thanks Kurt. i’d say Rudy is a mixture of Josh Childress and Manu Ginobili, able to pass or to go through the basket. but yes, a little bit unmusculated for the NBA, the main reason is because spanish schedule is about 54 games plus the play-offs plus some european games, not as much as NBA. but the same thing happened to Pau Gasol on his rookie year and he won the ROY award…

    apart of his versatility on the offensive end, the lakers would benefit from his defense. he plays with heart all the balls averaging 2 steals per game

    avg: 28 min . 14,4 pts . 4,2 rebs . 2,6 ass . 2 stl . 1TO shooting 52% FG, 41% 3s and 85% FT

    i hope won’t happen like other drafts that lakers passed on great european prospects like parker, kirilenko over george…

    i’ll try to find some rudy highlights, when ill find them ill post them ;)

  23. I live in Spain, like Xavier, and i’m able to say the same line: Rudy is not Vujacic. Maybe phsysically, but he’s got one thing Vujacic can only dream of: the talent and knowledge of the game. Maybe Rudy is not Ginobili, but he is a great all-around player, maye a bit thin, but one of the few Euros that like to play alley-hoops. At #26 he could be some kind of a Tony Parker like steal.

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