When A Loss Can Really Be A Win

Darius Soriano —  June 25, 2011

Even though it’s standard operating procedure for nearly every national site, I’ve never been a fan of grading drafts right after they occur. While it’s nice to think we know how a player’s college game will translate to the pros, there are too many factors and variable to be able to truly determine what type of pro these kids will be.  Will injuries strike? Will the player improve on weaknesses? Will a teams’ system match what a player does well? Answers to these questions (and many more) can shape a career just as much as how often their jumper falls or how well they play defense.

However, if you go around the web, there’s also a different take on grading the draft; a take where the writer is asking “who won and who lost in this draft”? And while the answers to most of these questions are big name players or franchises that made especially questionable (or great) decisions on their draft picks, there’s also another type of “loser” that is consistently showing up on these lists.

Namely, the college player that left early that should have stayed in school.

And if you dig around the web a little, you’ll find that the Lakers’ selection at pick #41, Darius Morris, is one of the players appearing as a loser in this draft.

From Andy Katz at TrueHoop:

Darius Morris could have led Michigan toward a possible Big Ten title. Now he’ll have a hard time sticking with the Lakers.

Meanwhile, over at Yahoo!, Marc Spears includes Morris on his list of players that left school too early hoping for a first round selection, only to slip to the 2nd round where contracts aren’t guaranteed.

What no one is saying, however, is that Morris isn’t talented.

Furthermore, from my line of thinking, these critiques only further my belief that the Lakers potentially stole a real talent in this draft with the 41st pick. I mean, if many thought another year in college would have boosted Morris’ draft stock to the point that he would have landed in the 1st round next year (in what’s considered a much stronger draft by every expert), then I’m more than happy that the Lakers acquired such a talent when and where they did this year.

Obviously, there are no guarantees that Morris will develop. And Katz’ may prove to be right in his assessment that Morris doesn’t stick with the Lakers. However, the talent base is there and by all accounts so is the work ethic. If he progresses as naturally with the Lakers as he would have with the Wolverines, the Lakers may have found a keeper. And if that turns out to be the case, no one will be talking about how Morris was a loser in this draft but rather how the Lakers were winners.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, some of the skills that surely prompted the Lakers to draft Morris in the first place. Enjoy.

Darius Soriano

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51 responses to When A Loss Can Really Be A Win

  1. Warren Wee Lim June 25, 2011 at 11:15 am

    It will be weird to see the Lakers not run the triangle this year… I have almost resigned to the fact that we can never ever EVER have a speedy PG that throws bullet passes.

    Welcome Darius. Morris.

  2. Warren Wee Lim June 25, 2011 at 11:17 am

    I wonder if DM could impress the coaching staff enough to wildly try him to start over Fish and Blake =/ That would be sickkkk.

  3. Warren Wee Lim June 25, 2011 at 11:27 am

    And for the record, I find Goldilock’s range very interesting!

  4. Never heard of him before this week (don’t follow college hoops). An illuminating video !

    The court vision brings a smile to my face. He’s got “court sense” timing and moves – he’s a player. And those Magic-J wrap around passes!

    I don’t know these sorts of college-game skills translate to the nba, but if that guy can raise his 3pt shooting to even the crummy 30+ %% that our existing guys have, then he’s already a legit bright light for us.

  5. 18% freshman year, 25% sophomore year, he’s on pace to be a 95% 3 pt shooter by the time he’s a 10 year vet. LOL!

  6. According to LA times:

    “In a rare show of exasperation after a week of seeing his players’ names in headlines, Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak zinged an unnamed agent, whose identity was obvious.

    “A lot of the stuff you read the last three or four days was agent-driven,” said Kupchak.

    which agent is Kupchak referring to?

  7. Carryover from last post — a trivia question:

    A former Laker All-Star, over the course of his career, was the teammate of eight current or certain-to-be Basketball Hall of Famers who between them won more than 20 NBA titles.

    Name that player.

    (Prior guesses were Nick Van Exel and Robert Horry; neither were the player I’m seeking.)

  8. I hope they keep him because I’m kind of curious what it’s like to have a true point guard run an offense.

  9. Funky Chicken June 25, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    #6, he was likely referring to Rob Pelinka, who represented #2 pick Derrick Williams and wanted to see him in L.A.

  10. Funky Chicken June 25, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    That’s an interesting video, and definitely shows off the kid’s skills. If I were to nitpick, I’d say that several of those passes were of the “risky” variety that might have worked against college defenses but will be a lot more difficult to complete against an NBA defense. That, and the fact that his jumper is so bad (based on shooting percentage) that he might not spend as much time in the paint, and I’m still concerned.

    However, if he can improve his jumper and be on the floor with someone who can actually shoot from the outside (not sure who that is among current Laker players, as Goudelock appears to already be the best shooter on the team–by far) then this could be a very nice pickup.

  11. No. 7) A. C. GREEN, is my guess. Kareem, Magic, Steve Nash, Charles Barkley, Jerry West, Chick Hearn, James Worthy. I can’t think of number 8 right now.

  12. Wow, what a great highlight video of Darius Morris. In fact, just a wonderful post on the Lakers first pick in the draft. I do hope that he not only makes the team and sticks with the Lakers, but can be a valuable Point Guard for the future. Yeah, he just needs just improve his 3pt% by even 7% or so, and he is right there with all the rest of the current players. His college moves do remind me of the other Michigan Point Guard we used to have, lets hope he pans out the same.

  13. No 7. Eddie Jones is my guess . Played with Shaq, Kobe, D Wade, Dirk, Kidd, Payton, Rodman, Gasol and Magic Johnson

  14. Chris: Eddie Jones?

    Chearn: NVM, AC Green makes much more sense.

    Funky: That makes sense. And Rob represents/represented Kobe too?

  15. Oh WTF. Glove got it before I did. Jesus. I need to read.

  16. #6 & #9. Pelinka also represents Kobe and Andre Iguodala. So, those LO/Philly rumors (with the anecdote that Kobe/Iggy are “close” thrown in for good measure) could also be rooted there.

  17. I did not read the previous post and Renato Afonso mentioned Eddie Jones at 1:23 PM today. I need to read the original post to see who was guessed before making my guess.

    Pau Gasol will probably make the HOF when his international career is considered along with his NBA career.

  18. Funky Chicken June 25, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    Darius, between having to deal with the likes of Rob Pelinka and David Lee (Bynum’s jerk of an agent) it is easy to sympathize with Mitch Kupchak….

  19. A.C. Green also played with Shaq and Kobe, so if you take Chick Hearn off the list (since he wasn’t a player), that’s your 8 HoFers.

  20. The answer was A.C. Green.

    The eight HOFers with whom he played were Magic, Kareem, Worthy, O’Neal, Bryant, Nowitski, Nash and Barkley.

    All were former MVP winners and/or NBA champions. Pretty impressive list of teammates, even for a guy who won three NBA rings himself.

  21. Glove’s guess makes sense to a point, but in my opinion Pau isn’t a lock Hall of Famer, nor is Gary Payton. That’s why Eddie Jones wouldn’t meet the criteria as specified.

    Those two could well make it to the Hall someday, but I think their tickets to enshrinement can’t be punched just yet. The eight HOFers I’d named are already in or will unquestionably be voted in as soon as they’re eligible.

  22. I watched Darius play in one game while he was at Michigan and never thought that the Lakers would be in a position to draft him. The footage allows me to isolate on his skill set as a Laker and I can visualize him kicking the ball out to open 3pt shooters and creating off the bounce for easy buckets by the bigs. The consensus opinion that he will have trouble making the Lakers as a 2nd round pick, should incentivize him to improve his strength, finish around the rim and jump/3pt shot in order to make the team. Hey, Smush came in one year as an unknown and eventually won the starting pg position (by no means am I comparing Darius II to Smush, merely pointing out that it can happen). I would be happy with him pushing Fish and Blake to the point that one of the acquiesces to his takeover.

    20) I include Chickie’s name at all opportunities, lol, somehow I think of him as a team mate of the Lakers. How could I forget Kobe and Shaq! It could easily be Eddie Jones since he was an NBA all-star and played with all of the players previously mentioned.

  23. maybe ater majok isn’t a throwaway after all.


    as a 4 or 5 he seems pretty run-of-the-mill, but as a 3 (at 6’11” with what is probably an immense wingspan) the potential there is intriguing. not as terrible a gamble as I had thought.

  24. Are we seeing a bigger version of Rajon Rondo In Darius Morris?

    On a side note: I Love to see the Lakers trade for Mark Gasol even if we trade Andrew Bynum for him. That would be a force to reckon with having a TWIN TOWER GASOL at our line up and that for sure would revitalize Pau Gasol’s performance. Furthermore, Andrew Bynum’s off court comments regarding team chemistry and ball sharing somehow bothers me as it may turn out to be a conflict similar o the SHAQ-KOBE conflict that we experienced before.

    So we before this seeming conflict explode on us, we better trade either Kobe or Bynum, and between a guy who is tested in championship battles although he is on a decline AND an up and coming guy who is untested on his Leadership skills when it comes to championship time, I would choose the proven superstar in Kobe Bryant.

  25. I see him more as an Andre Miller/Jrue Holiday combo. For a second round pick, morris is a steal. Mitch sounded like he thought both could make the team. Also, I expect big things out of Ebanks next year. With a defensive minded coach, he will get more playing time.

  26. @25

    Morris has impressed me with his 1 hand pass Magic style…

    And Goudelock’s range? wow…

    You can’t rely on 2nd round picks, I know…but those kids gave me some kind of hope…

    Let’s see…

  27. Chris J.) I asked someone else your trivia question and their response was Magic Johnson! Why wasn’t it Magic Johnson they asked he played with: Kareem, Worthy as a Laker, and Bird, Jordan, Pippen, Malone, Stockton, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Drexler, Barkley on the Dream Team.

    Chibi) Wow, that is interesting Ater Majok as a 3, impressive. Wily ole Mitch Kupchak!

  28. Chearn — If we’re going to count Olympic teams, you may as well count All-Star teams too. Or college teams, for that matter.

    I was strictly referring to NBA teammates on NBA rosters — it’s a far less complex question.

  29. From what I`ve read, Morris is already a better shooter than he showed with Mich,but still not consistent and of course has yet to prove it in a NBA game. If Snyder is hired, expect him to work very hard with the new Guards.

  30. He is an intelligent player, but we already have a ton of players like that who have to over rely to their basketball IQ in order to compensate for their diminishing or lack of athletic ability. e.g. steve blake, kobe, fish, pau etc… what we need is a player who can blow you away with their athletic prowess ala rondo and tony parker during his early days .

  31. Haven’t we seen enough of athletic players who have a hard time increasing their BBIQ? I would think we would welcome a young, pure PG that actually can handle and pass. If he was older and could shoot better – and or was more athletic – does anyone think he would have been available at 41?

  32. It felt like Mitch wasn’t really trying to get anything with the last two picks so that alone makes it a little hard to get amped about Majok.

    The player is like a virtual unknown. I keep on thinking the pick was a throwaway…..picks at that end of the spectrum get even riskier.

    Other than his wingspan, I don’t know what else to be hyped about if at all.

    Anyone have better info?


  33. Check the link from Chibi at #24 and you will see that Atok Majok is not a complete unknown.

    It means that the Lakers are the only team to have actually worked him out, i.e. he wasn’t a complete shot in the dark, and that he may have been playing at the wrong position. He is 6’11” and all his coaches assume he should be a PF. As a defensive SF he may have some promise and that is about all you can expect at 58.

    Also, as has been mentioned, you don’t bring in someone at 58 that you know you are going to cut. Bring in a player, perhaps a less ready prospect, who will willingly play overseas instead of showing up at your camp – where you will undoubtedly cut him.

  34. Loved the video! Baby Magic! hahahaha


    But he looks good!

  35. 34: Play him at SF? Well, that would be interesting if he has potential. It’s just that I keep on thinking of other players we have drafted in the second round in a similar vein like Cheik Samb(sp?), etc. How has that done?

    I’m not 100% dismissing this pick, just saying how it goes from the surface. I would love to have the next all-star SF on the Lakers but from the video of him I saw from the Australian league he still looked raw.

    If nothing else I guess you can’t teach height and reach.

    I hope management knows something I don’t know about him.


  36. Even when Ater Majok played on the Australian team he was played out of position. His preferred position is sf which he played at Eurocamp and made an impression on NBA ex-player John Lucas and others. He played lock down defense on small forwards and shot the ball very well from the 3pt line. He will continue to work on his game as his goal is to play in the NBA and now that he knows a team has faith in him and actually drafted him he will work tirelessly to prove them right. As a survivor of the Sudan, I’m sure that working hard in basketball will be easy. Matok will stay over seas for a few years playing in European leagues, we’ll be able to track his progress. (This is what I remember from Chibi’s link)

  37. I’ve checked out video on Ater – his personal story is interesting and there’s definitely some raw talent there. A commenter whom I respect from another blog lives in Australia however and has seen Ater play live. He says the guy’s really bad and changed teams twice in a couple months. Still, I think most everyone here has a pretty good take on the guy – he’ll likely stay overseas and work on his game… and maybe the lure of the Lakers will drive him to improve.

  38. The key to remember is this is the 58th pick in the draft.

    We don’t need to spend a lot of time evaluating how far the Laker staff went right or wrong. The pick will be marinating overseas – instead of getting cut in training camp.

    My guess is that this is the reason a number of picks were questioned by the ‘geniuses’ at ESPN. They actually thought the players who had some decernable talent should be taken and subsequently cut – rather than stored overseas. If a player desires to attend training camp then they should not be drafted, as their chance of being cut is almost 100%.

  39. did you guys hear about sarra camara? he was in the audience and there was talk in his camp he’d be selected by the lakers at #58. his agent thought for sure he was going to be picked and said his client was better than majok. poor guy. that must have sucked.

    i believe the lakers would have picked him up had the nuggets not stepped in with a late trade offer and asked for ol’ Chu Chu.

  40. Hopefully, the Lakers will invite Camara to camp. And, he’ll use that rejection to infuse his play and knock one of the Lakers bigs off the team.

  41. This kid is definitely the second coming of Andre Miller. Which is not a bad thing at all, imo.

  42. Yeah, Sarra looks interesting. He’s a bit undersized? Seems more solid than some of the developing prospects though.

  43. One glaring observation upon watching this highlight video: not once does he attack the hoop going left (other than a rare one or two dribble fake in that direction). Combine that with spotty shooting at best and this guy has a long way to go to be a serviceable starting PG in the NBA.

  44. Warren Wee Lim June 27, 2011 at 1:46 am

    Amazing how some guys here judge the talent we drafted as if we had a top 10 pick… Consider them for what they are and if they could provide meaningful mins then thats about the best you can expect.

  45. Warren Wee Lim June 27, 2011 at 1:51 am

    For guys we picked, they provided some sort of support to our direct needs. Goldilocks for me is the most interesting guy. Morris is someone that could very well end up being our backup PG next year…

    I dont put much stock on Majok but cmon thats the effin 58th pick on a weak draft… cut Mitch some slack.

  46. Warren Wee Lim June 27, 2011 at 1:54 am

    I want Goldilocks to be unafraid of shooting. We need a guy like that from the bench who prevents opposing teams’ perimeter defense from relaxing. With his amazing range, he could impact me as a marcus thornton like talent. We need that.

  47. Yes, but can he dunk? Really, can he?

  48. Definitely more andre miller than anything but I like it.

    I really hope he gets the nod over Blake- Blake is just too small and can’t penetrate like Morris can – I find that we have been missing a slasher since farmar and ariza left, if ebanks gets some playing time hopefully that will help out.

    That’s why it was nice to see Trey Johnson at the end of the season, couldn’t shoot that well but worked the high post screens well breaking down the defense creating something compared to our stagnant offense with Blake where no one cuts and everyone stands around.

  49. I really think D Morris is a steal for the Lakers..I believe with training he can develop his outside shooting coz hes got the stroke. He seems more like a Deron Williams the way he has good visions on the court, not very talented like Derrick Rose but definitely a true point guard.

    He even work around the low post which is a huge advantage for him being 6’5… D Morris! Youre the type of point guard Phil Jackson was looking for…6’5 point guard. But either ways…Mike Brown should start you already to be ready for the post season..anyways D Fish will finish the game anyway…Wow this is really strange…
    D Will…D Fish…D Rose…..and the new Laker D Morr (sounds strange). Oh well welcome to the world champion LA Lakers