Who Can You Draft At #58?

Kurt —  June 25, 2008

As was said when going through the roster, it is clear that whomever the Lakers end up taking in this draft (if anyone) is going to have to fight to make the roster. They are going to have to beat out Coby Karl for that last roster spot, and we know Coby can throw it down. The winner of that tussle for the end of the bench seat likely would spend most of the season with the D-Fenders. The Lakers roster is stacked, and while maybe one more vet may be added to the rotation, any rookie that comes in will be treated as a potential project.

Which means this is a good place to take a “flier” — pick some guy that has potential but needs a lot of work. Dare I say it, a guy with huge upside and motor.

First things first, if the Lakers brass really like Karl, they may trade this pick for some minor consideration. That would not be a shock.

Or, the Lakers may try to trade up to early in the second round, as was rumored on Draft Express. The target would be George Hill, who comes out of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Needless to say, I have seen none of his games (if you have send me a note), so what follows in terms of a preview is culled from Draft Express and other places. Hill is a 6-2, 180 pound guy who is projected as a point at the NBA level. He can shoot the ball from the outside — he took 26% of his team’s shots while on the floor (so you know defenses were focused on him) and still shot 60% eFG% and 45% from three. Despite his size he was also his team’s best defensive rebounder. He turned the heads of a lot of scouts in Orlando with very solid play, and had guys talking about his basketball IQ. Also, his team ran the triangle offense in college. The knocks are that he is not a traditional point guard (not a problem in the triangle) and that he can turn the ball over some. Also, scouts were divided on his athleticism. He may be a guy who can be groomed into a backup PG in the triangle.

Hill is projected to go in the middle of the second round, so if the Lakers want him they would have to move up and get him. The question is, what are you willing to give up to move up in the second round? Not anything of consequence. So this may well not happen.

If they decide not to trade up or trade out, who might the Lakers get at 58? Predicting anything this late in the draft is very difficult, but here are a few names from people who follow this more closely that I do.

Draft Express has them taking James Mays, a power forward out of Clemson. This is a guy who may fit that project mold — he is 6’9”, 218 pound power forward with a lot of athleticism and is very active on the inside. Reports out of the Orlando pre-draft camp suggest that he is not very polished, particularly on offense, but that he works his tail off and is willing to do the dirty work inside. His numbers at Clemson show sort of the same thing — he only shot 48% this past season and had an offensive rating of 100 (points per 100 possessions) which is not impressive. But he did grab 12% of his team’s missed shots, which shows tenacity on the boards. Apparently in Orlando he tried to show a face-up, dribble penetration game that had a little promise. Bottom line, he could develop into an energy guy off the bench, but as he is already 22 years old how much better is his game going to get?

Chad Ford’s latest mock at ESPN.com has the Lakers taking Davon Jefferson out of USC. Somebody we have seen a lot of. He came around as the season went on and showed great athleticism in his 6-8, 215-pound body. He shot 58% on the year and grabbed 16% of the available defensive rebounds. His explosive leaping ability meant a lot of blocked shots. He likes to get out and run on the break. He turned the ball over a bit much, but the kid has the skills. But here is what scares me off of him — he showed up to pre-draft workouts woefully out of shape (12% body fat) and not showing a lot of fire. Here he is trying to impress people he should be paid to play and he isn’t working out? If you take a risk on someone, you do it on a guy with great work ethic and I’m not sold that is the case here (maybe there are extenuating circumstances, but they’d have to be biggies).

NBAdraft.net has the Lakers taking JR Giddens, a 6-5 two guard out of New Mexico. He was the focus of the Lobo’s offense and shot 54.7% (eFG%) and 33% from three. He is supposed to be a great leaper, a good athlete who likes to run the floor and has deep range as a shooter. But the questions here are much like Jefferson — what kind of work ethic does he have. That was questioned while he was at Kentucky, and when he transfered to New Mexico he actually was suspended by the team for the second half of the 06-07 season for “being a bad teammate.” Reports are his defense is shaky because he doesn’t really work at that end of the floor. This is another case (like Jefferson) where if he can play up to his potential he would be a second-round steal, but the question is do you want to take that risk on a guy with a questionable work ethic. Personally, I don’t, but I have not interviewed the guy to see if he has matured.

Another guy that may or may not be on the board, but is worth a look, is Luc Richard Mbah A Moute, who is 6′ 7″. 224 lbs. Those of us in Southern California have seen a lot of him in recent years and at the next level he will be a defense and hustle guy who can guard threes out on the perimeter. He can get out and run but his offensive game in a half-court set is limited (he shot 48% last year). His rebounding numbers were down a little last year but I think that had more to do with Kevin Love than anything else. Reports out of pre-draft workouts were that he showed well on the defensive end. Frankly, I don’t think you can go wrong with a guy who can defend on the wings — you can teach him to shoot threes (see Bowen, Bruce).

He may not fall that far, but if Mbah A Moute is on the board I would like to see the Lakers grab him (some mock drafts have him going higher, some have him undrafted). If not, someone like Mays would be good, or maybe a Euro we don’t know much about that could be stashed overseas for a few years (ala Sun Yue).

Whatever happens, this is a guy for down the line, not next year. But it should be fun to watch.