Talking Draft: Who Are Your Pet Cats?

Darius Soriano —  June 20, 2011

We’re inching closer to Thursday’s NBA draft and with that comes much intrigue for the entire league. Sixty players will be drafted to various teams and with that the dreams of 60 young men will be fulfilled while the hopes and expectations of millions of fans crystallize.

Will the new guy (or in some teams’ case, guys) lead our team to the playoffs? To a championship? Will they bust? These are questions that we’ll all be asking as analysts rattle off buzz words like “length”, “upside”, and “winner” while highlight reels of these players’ best plays run in the background. It’s an exciting time, and really, one of my favorite times of the year.

For the Lakers, though, they’re looking at this draft from a different perspective than many other teams. With four second round picks, the Lakers aren’t looking for/don’t expect to see an impact player or a guy that can come in and compete for a starting spot next season. Instead, they’re looking for a player that can simply make the roster. Said another way, the Lakers have quantity (in their number of picks) but aren’t in a position to expect a lot of quality to fall to where they’ll be making their picks. It’s simply the reality of drafting in the 2nd round with the first of four picks not being made until the 41st selection overall. As Mitch Kupchak said himself:

We’re looking at players that we think might be there in the 40s and 50s. Typically with those kinds of players, something may jump out at you, but the whole package doesn’t ever really jump out at you, because if it did, that player would be a lottery pick. You may see somebody who’s got a nice stroke, but he’s a tweener in terms of size; or somebody that’s got great athletic ability but can’t shoot the ball; or great size and can’t catch. When you’re drafting in the 40s, there’s compromises that you have to make and sacrifices. You end up looking at a lot of mid-sized players, 6-7 and less, because the big guys are just hard to come by … [big guys] that can play, anyway.

So, who fits into this category of a prospect that offers a distinct skill set that can help a team, but also has enough flaws in his game that he could be available when the Lakers pick? Some names to chew on:

  • Nolan Smith, PG, Duke – A PG/SG prospect that filled in nicely for (projected #1 overall pick) Kyrie Irving early this past season. Smith proved he could run the point, score well, and is seen as a good defender. However, towards the end of Duke’s season, his production fell off dramatically when Irving reclaimed his starting gig and pushed Smith into a less certain role.
  • Darius Morris, PG, Michigan – Morris insists he’s a pure PG and at 6’5″ possesses excellent size for that position. He showed very good efficiency as a scorer making 53% of his 2 point shots, but struggles as an outside shooter, making only 25% of his 3 point attempts. How he’d transition to playing PG in the NBA – both on offense and defense – is a real unknown, however and thus he’s seen as a 2nd round prospect.
  • Malcom Lee, SG, UCLA – Seen as more of a defensive specialist with an evolving offensive game. His D has some saying he could play right away as someone that guards NBA wings and the fact that he played for a defensive minded Ben Howland at UCLA only enhances his reputation as someone that could transition well to the pros on that end of the floor. On offense, however, his jumper needs lots of work (29% on three pointers) and as a SG in the NBA, there’s only so many minutes for a guy that is a liability on that end of the floor.
  • David Lighty, SG/SF, Ohio St. – One of the better shooters in this draft, Lighty shot 47% overall and 42% on three pointers. He has decent size for a wing and proved a versatile threat for OSU this past season. He also showed that he’d work hard on defense though isn’t thought of as a defender the caliber of Lee.
  • Greg Smith, PF/C, Fresno St. – Draft Express has the Lakers drafting Smith with the #58 pick in their latest mock draft. Also of note, John Hollinger has Smith rated as his 24th best prospect for this draft. Smith has a mostly un-polished offensive game and shows flashes of ability to defend and rebound well. His measurables are pretty good as he’s 6’10” in shoes but has a 7’3″ wing span and enormous hands. His biggest issues seem to be focus and consistency with his effort.
  • Jordan Williams, PF/C, Maryland – Draft Express has the Lakers drafting Williams with the 46th pick in their latest mock draft and Hollinger has him rated as the 31st best prospect in this draft. Williams comes to the pros after his sophomore season and showed good ability as a scorer (16.9 ppg) and rebounder (11.8 rpg) this past season. He’s seen mostly as a Center but at 6’9″ lacks good size for that position. He does have good hands and seems to have a good feel for positioning both on the glass and in moving in space towards the ball.

Obviously there are other names out there besides these. However, I’ve looked around the interwebs at a lot of prospects and mock drafts, and these are guys that are consistently picked in the range of where the Lakers will make their selections. Maybe you have another name you’d like to see the Lakers draft. If so, let me know in the comments and why. As we get closer to the draft, it serves us all to know as much about these guys as we can. Especially since one or more will likely have his name called by the Lakers this Thursday.

Note that most of the information on the players above is from written profiles around the web, with a heavy reliance on the fine work done at Draft Express as I’ve seen only some of these players play this past season.

Darius Soriano

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39 responses to Talking Draft: Who Are Your Pet Cats?

  1. I say the Lakers draft 2 PGs, 1 SG/SF defender, and one Euro with the last pick. Smith sounds good. I also like Norris Cole, Malcolm Lee, and Liggins from KY. I don’t know if the Lakers want to spend another pick on a SF since it seems Ebanks will stay.

    What’s the word on that Fresno State player Julayan Stone? Seems like some site said Lakers “guaranteed” him a spot, which sounds odd since it’s a 2nd round pick.

  2. Jeremy hazell?

  3. Demetri McCamey out of Illinois could also be a good value on draft day. Good heady PG, plays within the team’s offense, and has all around skills. Derek Fisher and Chauncey Billups have been his main comps, and at his size, guarding quicker PG would be a problem… but, near the end of the 2nd round, I still believe he’d be a nice return as one of our picks.

  4. i like justin harper and andrew goudelock: two shooters with decent size, skill, and athleticism. those attributes are just what the dr. ordered.

    i’m going to be pretty displeased if they lakers draft more than 2 american players. there just isn’t room, and it’s a waste if somebody gets cut.

    my dream euro is nikola mirotic. he had a great season for ettore messina, btw. more realistically, i like french pgs antoine diot/edwin jackson, plus spaniard xavi rabeseda.

    #1, i would be cool with malcolm lee. the ucla guys under howland always seem to be pretty solid defenders.

  5. I believe that Julyan Stone has been linked to the Lakers by a few sites. Darius what are your thoughts on him? I read an interesting piece about him on Laker Nation the other day and I am intrigued by him. Oh and he went to UTEP by the way. Here is a link that outlines some players as well:

    http://www.lakersnation.com/eight-players-that-the-lakers-could-steal-in-the-second-round/2011/06/11/2/

  6. I don’t think Nolan Smith will be available to us by the time we pick. I really like Shelvin Mack and Andrew Goudelock. Mack had a great tournament and Goudelock tore it up at the combines.

    I know I’ll get killed for this, but check out footage of Scotty Hopson from Tennesse and tell me he doesn’t remind you of Kobe Bryant. No I’m not saying he’s gonna be Kobe Bryant but it’s obvious he patterned his game around Kobe’s. He should definitely be available to us and what better way to improve than to learn from the guy you patterned your game after.

  7. Renato Afonso June 20, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    I would like to see Nolan Smith as a Laker. He has good size and good basketball IQ and has been playing for coach K. I see no problem with him running the point. Yes, his outside stroke is not as good as it should be, but there’s room for improvement there. The others, I don’t know enough about them…

    Regarding a Euro, I doubt that the top european prospects would be available so late in the draft, but it could happen.

  8. There are three type of players that the Lakers would benefit from having on the roster:

    1. A shooter (obviously)
    2. A compact, hustling big man that rebounds and defends without worrying about offense
    3. And a defensive player that can guard PGs.

    Obviously it isn’t likely that more than one of the players drafted will make the roster, but the Lakers should try to target at least one of the three types of players. Maybe they can package some of their picks and try to trade up (not likely). Finding european talent that late in the draft is unlikely as well, as someone also mentioned. The best bet is for LA to simply find one good steal that possibly addresses one of their needs.

    I like Julyan Stone and Iman Shumpert as defensive pgs with good all-around games and great athleticism.

    I like Greg Smith as the blue-collar, hard-working big man that will hustle and make the plays that some of our big men are too pretty to make.

    And lastly (this might be my Notre Dame bias talking but oh well) – Ben Hansbrough as a late second round pick. I’ve seen him play many times, and I have to say that he would fit in great with the Lakers. He can absolutely stroke the three and if he plays with guys like Kobe, Pau and Bynum, he’s knocking down those wide open threes that we’ve watched Fisher and Artest endlessly brick. I’m not counting on him getting to the basket in the NBA but he plays with a fire and an enthusiasm that I like. He’s not very athletic, but he’s a willing defender and he doesn’t take many possessions off. The Lakers need some energy off the bench. Hansbrough isn’t going to be a superstar by any means, but if the Lakers could get him at the end of the draft, he could make the roster in my opinion. Here’s a little video of him

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QM08XNLNbUM

  9. I think the Lakers will draft with an eye on who they want to sign as a FA, or in a potential trade. So even though they can use help at PG or a shooter,they might not go in that direction in the draft. So, concentrate on speed and athleticism in the draft and hope someone can develop into an OK player over time.

  10. I’m partial to Lee because of his defensive prowess, but I’d really like Norris Cole or Charles Jenkins. IMO they’ll be gone though. I like the demeanor of Darius Morris as well, but its imperative we get someone who can hit an outside shot. If that’s the case than Goudelock may be the best bet, although he is at times more of a 2.

  11. ESPN is talking about trade rumors where Gasol is shipped to Minny (to play with Rubio) in exchange for K Love + the #2 overall pick which is most likely Derrick Williams from Arizona. If I am Mitch, I do this trade in a heartbeat.

  12. The one thing arguing for the Minny trade is rumor that part of Pau’s break-down/lack of focus this year was frustration with the Kobe centric play of the team. If this is true then something does need to be done. The problem is that I really doubt Minny would ever entertain trading both Love and the #2 pick and I wouldn’t do it any other way.

  13. I just hope the Lakers can find somebody, somehow who can shoot from distance. In the draft, off the waiver wire, in a trade, however.

    Please!

  14. The pick cannot just be a shooter, we had one of the best from college (Gonzaga) just a little while ago, remember the guy who was the 3rd pick in the draft by Jordan, and was an NBA flop. So whatever happened to Adam Morrison?

  15. Nolan Smith and Malcolm Lee have both been favorites of mine for quite a while, and I would be very happy if the Lakers got either of them.

    A guy I haven’t seen anyone mention who I like a lot is Justin Holiday, the younger brother of Jrue Holiday. He’s a long, athletic swingman who can shoot the 3 and has a lock-down defensive mentality.

    As far as Euros who could still be on the board late in the 2nd round, Giorgi Shermadini (who John Hollinger’s draft rater likes) and Miro Bilan are 7-footers with upside, and Bojan Bogdanovic is a versatile small forward. Both of them fit the profile of guys to leave overseas for a few years and see if they develop.

  16. ST @ 14 – I don’t think Morrison could get open in the NBA. True, all the shooting ability in world won’t help if the “athlete” is too slow to get open.

    So let me amend my wish slightly: “I just hope the Lakers can find somebody, somehow who can shoot from distance (and be able to get open) in the pros. In the draft, off the waiver wire, in a trade, however.

    Please!”

  17. Any form of a Pau Gasol for Kevin Love deal is a must do for the Lakers. And it’s not because Love is a better player than Gasol; he’s not. But he is younger, cheaper, and probably a better fit with Bynum than Gasol is.

    And that’s only part of it. Second of all, Kevin Love makes only $3.6M this year. That’s way way less than Gasol’s $17.8M. That means the Wolves will have to part with some more contracts to make the money work. But what contracts do they have? They have:

    Michael Beasley – $5M
    Martell Webster – $4.8M
    Darko Milicic – $4.3M
    Nikola Pekovic – $4.3M
    Luke Ridnour – $4M
    Wesley Johnson – $3.7M
    Jonny Flynn – 3.1M

    The contracts need to be within %25 of one another, and $17.8M / 125% = $14.24M. Kevin Love makes $3.6M, so the Wolves need to find $10.64M worth of contracts to make the deal work. So that means they would have to trade at least 2 of the above guys, plus some throw-ins. I don’t know about you guys, but I’d be willing to take any of the above two players in addition to Love for Gasol, in a heartbeat.

    Now I truly appreciate Gasol for everything he’s done for this franchise. Without him, it’s almost unfeasible to think we’d make 3 straight Finals and back-to-back championships. However, if this deal comes along, I’d wish Gasol all the best and ship him out faster than you can say “KAHNNNNNNNNNNN!”

    And if the Wolves are stupid enough to throw in the #2 pick, I’m totally fine with that as well.

  18. R @ 16, I did not mean for it to seem like an attack on your comment – lol. We do need not just one, but hopefully a couple of good NBA quality shooters for next season, with Brown and company. And yeah, I agree with Zephid wholeheartedly.

  19. Ben Hansbrough, Justin Holiday and Darius Morris are the three players I think the lakers should target, one brings shooting and strength to the Pg, the other instant offense and the last defense and shooting to the wing. All three things the Lakers need.

  20. Will H. @ 5 — Thanks for the link, great read. Isaiah Thomas and Julyan Stone intrigue me.

  21. Everyone is forgetting about Azibuike. He has a great stroke. The draft should be about another defender like Justin Holiday.

  22. Haha, pet cats. Ironic. I was actually writing a post earlier and one of my cats knocked over a lamp resulting in a shorted-out socket… the same socket my computer was plugged into. Sparks and weird noises and I lost part of the post.

    I’ve got Darius on my short list as well although he might not be available when we pick – his stock’s been going up recently. I’ve got Corey Joseph from UT, Isaiah Thomas (small but tons of speed which is something we’ve been lacking) and agreeing with #8 & #19, Ben Hansbrough – the guy can shoot the lights out.

  23. A bunch of people at SSR are talking about how they would “consider” trading Pau for Love + the 2 + filler.

    Which is crazy. If Minnesota is dumb enough to offer that, Kupchak and Buss should do it without a second thought.

    Pau will be 31 in August is owed 57M + a trade kicker if he is moved. Love is 22 and among the best 35 or so players in the league.

    There is no way Minnesota even considers that trade, no matter how much they might like having Pau with Rubio.

  24. I haven’t checked, but I don’t think Minny would have to throw in any filler. Minny can absorb Pau’s contract because they are under the cap (barring any major CBA changes)

  25. Hate to involve other “trades,” but there is a tangential draft thought here. What about a Pau for Sessions, Varejao, and #4 pick. I doubt Clev. does that, but seems like Clev. doesn’t want two high draft picks who will take years to develop. Losing Varejao would hurt, but getting a superior player in Gasol would soften that blow.

    For Lakers, we get a PF/C who is an elite defender in Varejao. He can fill in for either spot, or if Bynum gets hurt, start at the center position. Sessions would be an upgrade at the PG spot, though he lacks a jumpshot. And the #4 pick could yield a starting point guard like Brandon Knight.

  26. 24, according to HoopsHype, the Wolves are at $53M this year in total salary. According to Hoopsworld, the salary cap for this season is $58M, leaving them only $5M of wiggle room until they hit the cap. According to Larry Coon’s CBA FAQ, under point #70, if a team trades a player while over the cap, or would be put over the cap because of the trade, they must use a Trade Exception.

    Now this is not the normal Trade Exception we talk about in a lot of sign-and-trade deals with lopsided money (like Sasha Vujacic’s trade exception, or Lebron James’ trade exception). Those are non-simultaneous Trade Exceptions, used to basically “credit” the team giving away salary (to use Larry Coon’s terms), so that they may take on some salary at a later date (like we could use the Sasha Vujacic TE to get any player making $5M and below).

    The simultaneous Trade Exceptions occur when salaries are within %125 + $100k and players are moved immediately. Since both the Lakers are already over the cap, and the Wolves would be put over the cap by taking on Gasol’s contract, their financials must be within %125.

    I hope this is a good explanation of the situation and makes clear that my description of the situation is still valid.

  27. Out of all the players I’d like for the Lakers to draft, Hansboro (who I left out) is one of the guys I really want. He’s not athletic and will have trouble defending, but I love his competitive spirit and the fact that it comes with a sweet jumper (with deep range) attached.

    FYI, I’ll have a post up this afternoon on Gasol, Love, and my thoughts on trades. I’d appreciate it if ya’ll held off on flooding this section with trade thoughts and just held off until the afternoon.

  28. As a Michigan man, my homer side would love to see us take Darius Morris – he’s a fearless competitor who is…. let’s just say he’s a *little* better at finishing in traffic than Ron Artest :) I would contend, though, that in any other year he’s not a draft candidate. Imo, He’s a sophomore and only declared this year because the impending specter of a lockout is keeping a LOT of the higher-rated draft talent in school next year. Plus… the lack of an outside shot is problematic.

    If the Lakers did take Darius Morris, though, I’d love to see 1) him take over #4 from Luke Walton’s corpse and 2) for our Darius to get a custom Laker jersey that said ‘Morrisoriano’ on the back. :)

    [kehntangibles]

  29. If you trust Bynum’s knees, then Gasol is expendable. If you don’t trust Bynum’s knees, then they need to keep Gasol.

  30. Trading Gasol with Minny will give us PF Love who can be perimeter marksman, a defender and fast break facilitator together with a promising player #2 which I guess a PG and possibly fillers like Webster who will be perimeter shooter.

    On the other hand, Gasol gave the Lakers 3 Finals and 2 rings plus being a great matured Laker who filled the job for Drew. His main weakness is defense and his noticeable absence in recent playoffs. Gasol is still a 18 PPG, 10 R 3A and 7’0″ in height. Except for the height, will those Minny players meet those criteria?

    If Lakers trade GAsol now, then they lacked another 7’0″ piece in order to bait the *great ones* – Dwight or CP3. Chances are, Magic or NO might be reluctant to acquire an injury prone Drew.

    IMO, I would rather wait for the big bonanza and settle for the marquee players who would replace Kobe in the future. Go with the triple towers first, until mid season when it’s ripe to trade one of them or both of them than going with medium trades. It’s like playing poker wherein you have three aces on hand, will you throw one away aiming for flashes or end up only with a pair.

  31. I am really looking forward to this upcoming draft. I feel a lot of trades will be in the works on draft night. I also think the Lakers may find some gems with their picks, and would not be surprised to see them move into the first round by packaging the 2nd round picks. I also think we will get a glimpse into a non-triangle based team and personnel, and will see the team look for speed and athleticism over “intangibles” and triangle-compatible games.

  32. Assuming we don’t trade up into the first round, I would love for the lakers to pick E’twaun Moore from Purdue.

  33. Pau for Love + #2 or #20 is a no brainer to me. Love is much younger and a better rebounder and shooter. Shooting is one of the Lakers biggest weakness if not the biggest. And when Bynum was out of the game in the playoffs, the Lakers got killed on the glass.

    The only good thing about the Lakers having such poor PGs is that even at #20 they can probably get a PG that can step in and provide solid defense and some offensive production – something that neither Fish nor Blake appear capable of doing.

  34. Sorry for the double post, but I would really be intrigued with taking Isaiah Thomas from Washington. I think he measured out a bit taller at 5’10” (rather than 5’8″). I would love to have him as a change-of-pace point guard off the bench. It’s time to think outside the box and having a weapon of that sort would be nice.

  35. 26. Thanks Zephid, I actually do understand and knew about those dynamics of the CBA. I just thought the wolves were well under the salary cap, that is why I put the caveat “I haven’t checked” in my statement.

    I guess that is what I get for being lazy. The info you stated is great and I am sure most people learned something from it. The CBA isn’t the easiest thing to dis-cipher.

  36. For what that’s worth…

    Larry Coon’s said on ESPN that the Pau-Love deal is just hype and won’t happen.

    Coon is not a hack whose words we can disregard matter of fact, a la Plaschke or Steven A. Sockpuppet, etc.

  37. Larry Coon says Gasol to Minnesota is not happening: http://twitter.com/#!/LarryCoon/status/83233054528770048

  38. Yup…no way the T-Wolves trade KLove. Also, there is no way the Lakers trade Pau Gasol at this point either.

    However, the T-Wolves do have 3 PG’s and I do believe they could be convinced to part with either Luke R or Flynn since Rubio is the future.

    I do believe Edwin is right… the Lakers will wait for the 2012 Free Agent market to make their moves.

    P.S. The guy who said trade Pau to Cleveland for Anderson V. is really scaring me…lol…may you never get to be the GM of my beloved Lakers!