Coming into the draft, armed with four 2nd round picks, the Lakers had a clear strategy. They wanted to draft guards that could help their back court depth and they wanted to draft one or two players that could be stashed in Europe for future consideration of a roster spot. Plus, besides those two rather generic goals, the Lakers also sought to improve on and add skills lacking on the current roster. The hope was to nab playmaking and shooting and hope those skills were advanced enough that the player (or players) possessing them could earn a roster spot.
And while it’s much too early to say whether that last point will actually prove positive, the other goals all have a check mark next to them the day after the draft. And for those reasons, beyond anything else, the Lakers had a successful Thursday evening phoning in their picks from Los Angeles to Newark.
With pick number 41, the Lakers nabbed Darius Morris from Michigan. His strengths include size, natural point guard ability, and the ability to get into the paint to create for others and himself. His profile at Draft Express includes several positive morsels about his college career, including the fact that he boasted a greater than 2-1 assist to turnover ratio while also shooting 53% on two point baskets last season. We also learn that he improved by leaps and bounds over his two seasons at Michigan by flashing a well rounded game, including the ability to rebound well and defend at an above average level. Draft Express ranked him as the 22nd best prospect in this draft and Chad Ford states that he may be the best pure point guard in his draft.
However, his game is not without flaws. He’s shown literally no ability to make the college three point shot, knocking down only 25% of his long balls last year. He can be an over dribbler that probes too much rather than making the simple play. His size is very good for the position but his athleticism is only average. He’ll be tested at the NBA level both physically and in terms of the deficiencies in his game, needing to make both improvements and adjustments to his style of play that will be harder than the ones he had to make during his time at Michigan.
With the 46th pick, the Lakers selected Andrew Goudelock from the College of Charleston. He’s also listed as a point guard, but where Morris is of the playmaking variety, Goudelock is a scoring machine. He ranked 5th in the nation this past year, dropping nearly 24 points a game (right below Kemba Walker). He’s used to operating with the ball in his hands and creating shots from everywhere on the floor. He shows incredible range on his jumper and is literally a threat to hit shots once he’s over the half court line. Really, he is. He also shows great moxie on the court and is a confident player, letting media know after the draft that he’ll compete with anyone of any size and that his shooting ability will be with him until the day he dies.
Goudelock too, though, has his flaws. While confident in his playmaking ability, he committed nearly as many turnovers as assists this past season. Finishing inside is not a strong suit. And while he made 40% of his three pointers (a great number) he also shot nearly 9 shots from distance a game last year, which instantly has me questioning his shot selection. There’s a real question about whether he can be a true point guard or if he’s destined to be an undersized shooting guard in this league.
With the remaining two picks, the Lakers selected Chukwudiebere Maduabum (#56) and Ater Majok (#58). Chu-Chu (as he’s known) was ultimately traded to the Nuggets for a future 2nd round pick and Majok is a player that has little information on him anywhere. After the pick, Chad Ford tweeted that “He wasn’t awful at EuroCamp.” And that he “Shoots it OK for a big man”, but I wouldn’t call that a ringing endorsement on my friendliest and most optimistic of days. Odds are this pick never sees the floor for the Lakers.
In the end though, with both Morris and Goudelock at least, these are the types of players you draft in the 40’s. They’re flawed players but ones that have good skill level and a foundational attribute (or more) that can keep them in this league. For Morris, that’s a combo of playmaking, size, and floor generalship. For Goudelock it’s shooting and confidence. Considering the Lakers have a real need for both of those skill sets on this current roster, I think the team did quite well for themselves in acquiring these two players. We won’t know until training camp what type of progress or improvements they’ve made in their games (Summer league has been officially cancelled and with a lock out on the horizon, who knows when camp will even start) but I do believe that both of these players can stick and make the team.
And if that turns out to be the case, that’s a great result from this draft and all any reasonable observer could ask for. There’s little chance a pick in the 40’s will come in and impact a team. Those chances go down exponentially when you’re talking about a team that many believe to be one of the handful of title contenders in the league. If the Lakers are lucky, both Morris and Goudelock will come in, compete hard, improve as the year progresses, and get some spot minutes where they can test their development in real game action. If they contribute positively in those minutes and earn more time, that’s a homerun. If they don’t, I’m not judging. I look at Ebanks and Caracter and see two guys that rarely played and I still think they can be players on this team.
Hopefully, with both Morris and Goudelock, I’ll be thinking the same thing a year from now.