Lakers Sign Josh McRoberts

Phillip Barnett —  December 14, 2011

Yesterday, Darius wrote about the Gerald Green signing. Later that day, the Lakers signed another big, Josh McRoberts, who isn’t necessarily the big signing some have been pining for from the front office. With Dwight Howard and Chris Paul both still being talked about as possible future Lakers, it may hard to come to grips with the Lakers using their mini mid-level exception as a positive, but signing McRoberts was a good, not great, move for the Forum Blue and Gold.

Last season, the Lakers struggled with front-court depth. The Bynum/Gasol/Odom triumvirate was amongst the league’s best, but finding any kind of production outside of those three was hard to come by. Now with LO off to Dallas, depth up front moved to the top of the Lakers needs moving forward as the beginning of the season approaches. While McRoberts will be able to come off the bench as a capable body for 15-20 minutes per game, any hopes McRoberts replacing Odom’s production from last season would be futile. Jared Wade from 8 Points 9 Seconds explains why:

Josh McRoberts is a decent if unreliable contributor. He is athletic and versatile but doesn’t do anything at a high-level. He is very good, for someone 6’10, at finding the open man and he can handle the ball — occasionally even taking off with it after a rebound — but he isn’t exactly a threat to blow by defenders to get to the rim in the half court. He enjoys shooting long twos but shouldn’t, as his jumper is erratic and he is better serving by hanging around the basket looking for put-back dunks. 

That is where you want him taking most of his attempts: at the hoop. His one-thunder-dunk-per-20-minutes average should replace the void left by Shannon Brown, and he is adept at losing his defender and making a baseline cut to catch a lob in the half court. Guys like Kobe and Pau (and Chris Paul … whoops) should be able to exploit this more than the lackluster playmakers on the Pacers. On the break, he is even better, filling the lanes well and being a guy you can throw an alley-oop to or someone you can give the ball a little earlier and count on to either finish on his own or make the right pass to a trailer.

Defensively, he is neutral. He won’t detract considerably (although I’m sure Mr. Bryant will have words for him after he blows some assignments) and he won’t make up for anyone else’s mistakes. He is imperfectly adequate. His biggest deficiency at this point is not effort and certainly not athleticism (although he’s better vertically than laterally). It’s the fact that he’s a guy who will be 25 soon and still doesn’t have much consistent NBA experience under his belt. 

We’ll likely get a good look at McRoberts through the first five games of the season as Andrew Bynum will be out serving his suspension, forcing Gasol into the center spot — barring any future trades, that is. McRoberts should be a nice high-energy guy coming off the bench who can grab a few rebounds and clean up a few misses of the rim. He also has some big play ability due to his athleticism and passes well (same number of assists per 36 as Lamar Odom last season). I think McRoberts has the potential to become a fan favorite if expectations are held low. Suffice to say, the McBob signing doesn’t nearly solve all of the Lakers problems, this team still has a bit of work to do.

Phillip Barnett