Checking Up On Chinemelu Elonu

Darius Soriano —  June 29, 2010

Regular readers here at FB&G know Xavier, our friend the professional coach in Barcelona. In the wake of the draft, he was kind enough to throw a few words together for us on 2009 Lakers draftee Chinemelu Elonu. Elonu currently plays professionally in Spain, so Xavier is familiar with Elonu’s game and progress.  A special thanks to Xavier for taking the time to give us some insight on the Lakers’ oversees prospect. —Darius

Chinemelu Elonu is the Nigerian 6-10 Power Forward the Lakers drafted in the 2nd round (59th overall) in the 2009 NBA Draft.

Elonu, 23 years old, played for Texas A&M for 3 seasons, and only his junior season was remarkable, posting 9.8 points on 66.5% FG, 7.3 rebounds (2.9 off) and 1.6 blocks in less than 24 minutes.

After that, he moved to Spain to play for CAI Zaragoza in Spanish 2nd division league. Zaragoza is a pretty competitive team for a 2nd division team and they proved that by promoting to ACB (1st league in Spain) for the 2010/11 season. In 09/10, Elonu averaged 6.3 points on 60.2% FG, 5.8 rebounds (2 off) and 1.5 blocks in 19 minutes.

The guy I compare him to, Ibaka (24th overall in ’08), had a similar path in pro basketball. He also played a season in LEB Oro (Spanish 2nd division) for Hospitalet (this is a team you may know as their U-18 team holds an international tournament every year where one of the invitations is always for Oak Hill Academy) playing at an outstanding level (12 pts 8 reb and 3 blocks). Then he played for ACB team Ricoh Manresa posting solid numbers and showing his athletic ability and potential. That earned him his trip to the 1st round of the draft and lately playing against the Lakers in the playoff in his rookie season.

At 6-10 and 235lbs is quite an athlete. Dunks the ball with power and takes pride for being a good offensive rebounder and shot blocker. That’s why you can compare him to OKC’s Serge Ibaka. But don’t get too excited with that, he’s a poorman’s Ibaka (not just poor but almost homeless). Elonu is athletic but not as much as Serge, can dunk the ball but that’s the only move he has and he has to prove yet he can play at least at an ACB level, which he hasn’t. More over, he’s 23 (Ibaka is 20 right now, 21 in September) and has nowhere near the potential of other 23 years old international players.

Elonu would need (not just he would benefit of it, he NEEDS it) of a year or two competing at ACB level of competition – which is, by the way much higher than D-League or even Italian Lega, where Jennings couldn’t get on the floor because he was not a team player – before even trying the NBA. He doesn’t have Ibaka’s potential and is 2 years older than his fellow African. At 23, you’d better be a beast or very smart to make the NBA, and he’s neither of those things. But hey! Mbenga is still eating tacos and now-actor Stanislav Medvedenko (appearing along with Carmen Electra in this movie) made it and they both got championship rings, right?

Bottom line, Elonu is a great guy, worker, banger who goes hard on the glass but limited offensively and potential wise. A couple more years in Europe could make him earn a spot on an NBA roster but at the moment, I can’t see him making the team as 4th or 5th big man over Caracter or Powell.


Darius Soriano

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to Checking Up On Chinemelu Elonu

  1. Thanks for the update Xavier! Hopefully Elonu will keep his work ethic up and build his game in a couple years — there’s no such thing as too many hard working players, especially in the NBA.


  2. I’d love for Elonu to turn into a productive player. The ACB is pretty tough competition. Let’s hope he improves.


  3. Great post, Xavier. I’m hoping he continues to improve. I think his size will be coveted in the NBA. Thanks for the video, too. Keep us posted!

    BTW, I have a quick update for you guys on the Brian Shaw situation. He definitely HAS NOT been offered the head coaching position in Cleveland. The Cavs were impressed with his interview and will decide whether to offer either Shaw or Byron Scott the job by the end of the week. If anything happens between now and tomorrow morning, I’ll have a more detailed post up on this and what it means for the Lakers moving forward.


  4. Really Bad and depressing news

    Kobe Bryant played most of this season with an injured right index finger, and it may never heal, according to Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register.

    “The middle knuckle on that critical finger on Bryant’s shooting hand is so debilitated by arthritis after the past season of misuse and overuse that there may be no real way to fix it,? Ding wrote. ?Bryant will consult with specialists in July to figure out his options, but arthritis is not a problem that can just be cleaned up with arthroscopic surgery or wished away with a little rest. Bryant suffered an avulsion fracture in two places near the tip of the finger on Dec. 11 as he tried to field a low Jordan Farmar pass. Bryant kept playing despite a projection of needing at least six weeks to heal — and he played pretty well. … Cartilage damage in a finger joint simply isn’t easily fixed because there is so little cartilage with which to work. For Bryant’s purposes of shooting and handling a basketball, fusing the joint is hardly a viable option.”


  5. oy vey, my son fouled out in 2 minutes!


  6. Thanks for the update Philip! 🙂

    Am I the only one who thinks Shaw is waiting on Phil Jackson’s decision? If Phil retires, he hopes to be offered his job and will take it. If not, he’ll take an offer from the Cavs. Does that make sense to anyone else?


  7. So, in other words, he’s a stiff.


  8. I hope Phil comes back. In case he doesn’t, I think Shaw should get the gig for the sake of continuity. This team doesn’t need a change in philosophy right now. If Phil does call it a day, maybe we can have Shaw as head coach, (with Phil as a consultant) then Scott as assistant/defensive coordinator. But I think Scott has too much pride to accept an assistant position.

    The rumors of Shaw getting an offer may be a bluff from CLE, with an ‘announcement’ that they will offer the job to scott or shaw by thursday (coincidentally) one day before Phil makes his announcement. Let’s see how good a poker player Mitch and Buss are


  9. the other Stephen June 29, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    5) hahaha. i still have vivid memories from childhood, when some of the best moves i pulled off were from scoring on my own team’s basket. 😛


  10. OT: Pierce opting out of his contract to be a free agent. Apparently (according to what I’ve read elsewhere that is) even signing a shorter contract with less money doesn’t really help their cap situation, so not really sure where this is going.;_ylt=AvBr2i5Z4My0pP.vaJloVgG8vLYF?slug=ap-celtics-pierce


  11. Not knocking the posting of the youtube link, but I thought youtube highlights of a player were supposed to make even the most insignificant player look like an all-star.

    I felt very uninspired with Elonu’s reel.



  12. 11. Gabriel, that’s exactly WHY I posted the youtube video, to make sure everybody knows this guy isn’t the big deal. He’s pretty limited.

    If you all remember, when we got Pau I wrote a piece here talking about him and how sorry I was for losing Marc Gasol on that trade also a 2nd round pick. Elonu’s worth one of Marc’s old sneakers at his age so don’t get too hyped about him.

    BTW, I spoke to a member of the Lakers scouting staff right after the draft and asked him if we would see any fist-fight between Ebanks, who already has had some rebeldy issues, and Ron. His answer?
    “I hope Ron takes it easy on him”


  13. Grateful as I am for a championship, it still frosts me that the Lakers didn’t draft either Chase Buddinger or DeJuan Blair last year-had a shot at them.


  14. Thanks for the update Xavier. Feel good to see so many Lakers fans from all around dedicated to the cause.