Kurt —  June 22, 2006

No, this post is not about the Jerry O’Connell TV show (which I loved the first season or so of, but it went downhill after that).

With less than a week before the draft it’s time to focus there. I’m talking about guys sliding down the draft board. Celtics Blog and teamed up for an interesting look a few weeks back at the success rate of guys who slide (as well as risers) and found some interesting stuff — basically guys who slide 10 spots or more seem to have done so for a good reason, they tend not to pan out. There are plenty of notable exceptions (hello Gilbert Arenas) but for the most part it holds true.

With the Lakers drafting 26th, Brandon Roy is not going to fall to them, but there are a few other guys that could, and that I wouldn’t mind getting. So I thought I’d point out a few.

Kyle Lowry: He’s a 6-0 point guard out of Villanova who scouts say is likely the best defensive point in the draft. He also is known for having a hard edge (not unlike Smush). Considered very competitive and very quick — he can drive the lane in the NBA, something you can’t have enough of these days, The knock on him used to be his outside shot, but he shot 46.8% overall last year and 44.4% from beyond the arc (getting better like that is a sign of a good work ethic). He had an offensive rating of 113.4 (points per 100 possessions used), very close to more heralded teammate Randy Foye and better than Allan Ray. He may not be tall like Phil likes, but this is a guy who can play out top in the NBA and could develop into the kind of starter the Lakers could use in a few years.

Alexander Johnson: I doubt the Florida State power forward will fall to the Lakers simply because he has the “athletic with upside” tag that gets guys drafted early. That said, if he did slide he’s potentially too good to pass. He’s a 6-10, 235 power forward who is strong enough to push people around on the inside and has a consistent 12-15 foot jumper (he had an eFG% of 56%). He grabbed 23.8% of the available defensive boards when he was on the court last year and a very good 12.9% of the offensive ones. He also blocked a lot of shots. He needs polish but could be very good some day.

Hilton Armstrong: Another big, and I know all things being equal the Lakers are more likely to go with someone to be a triangle point/Kobe backup. But Armstrong, like Johnson above, might be hard to look past if he slides down the draft board (even if just as future trade bait). He’s 6-11, 235 out of UConn and has a rep as a very good weak-side shot blocker. He grabbed 16.2% of the available defensive boards last year. He also can shoot the mid-range and finished last year with an eFG% of 61.1%. That would fit nicely in the triangle.