Archives For Draft

Erez Buki is a long time reader and commenter under the handle P. Ami. Heading to live in the Bay Area this summer, Erez has had the pleasure of following the Lakers while growing up during the Showtime era in LA, seeing first hand what great team basketball looks like when played by the greatest players. Having lived around the world he learned the game playing street ball all over Manhattan and Brooklyn, the university courts of Beijing, the indoor games of Portland, Oregon and plenty of stops in between. It turns out you can make out the words Lakers, Kobe, Shaq and Magic in all the language groups on this planet. He is currently working on a his degree in Medical Anthropology waiting for the iconic Laker his young kids will grow up loving. This is part II of his series looking at prospects who might be good targets for the Lakers’ later draft picks.

When we last explored players the Lakers could take with the 27th and 34th picks  we took a look at players that I favor in Christian Wood, Montrezl Harrell and, George Lucas De Paula. The first two are power forwards, with Wood likely learning to play the small forward. De Paula is a raw point guard with upside that is sliding down the mock draft boards. I like Wood and De Paula due to that long term potential. The Lakers need to develop the best possible talent. On the other hand, the team has some gapping holes at the swing positions. Yes, Kobe is coming back and so is Swaggy P but one more season of Kobe is about all we can hope for and Nick Young could as easily be nicknamed Satisfied P. Neither player is a long term solution at the two or three. The question is, can we find someone in the draft to fill either spot?

What is a team looking for from the swing position? Basically, you want Paul George, Kevin Durant and Kawai Leonard. You want long, explosive players who can shoot from anywhere on the court, finish in traffic, create for others and defend three positions. Oh, and rebound on both ends, come up big in key moments, sell jerseys, be professional, stay loyal, cook, do the laundry and take care of the kids. It is uncommon to find those players late in the first round. What you might find is a player with a few of those skills and the raw tools to develop a few more.

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I’m not a big Star Trek guy, but I remember watching this old “The Next Generation” episode where Scotty ended up in some time warp and found himself on the new version Enterprise. In one of the scenes he was talking to the ship’s engineer (Geordie LaForge) who was working on a report for Captain Picard. In their conversation Geordie was telling Scotty he had no time to talk because he told the captain he’d have this report for him in an hour and he needed to get it done.

Scotty asked Geordie “how long will the report really take you to finish?” and Geordie responded “an hour.” Scotty stared at him and said, “You told him how long it would really take? How do you expect him to think of you as a miracle worker if you told him how long it would really take?!”

If you’re still reading, you’re probably wondering what this has to do with Jahlil Okafor, the big man from Duke who many think will be available when the Lakers make the 2nd pick in the upcoming draft. Well, if Scotty was talking to Okafor, he’d probably tell him something very similar to what he told Geordie — that he had a problem managing expectations and that he should work on making some of the things he does seem a bit more difficult.

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In the lead up to the NBA Draft on June 25th, we will look at several prospects who might be available when the Lakers make their selections. We have already looked at potential prospects for the team’s later picks, but today we zoom up to the top of the draft with a look at Karl Anthony Towns.

The draft lottery offered a wild swing of emotions I will not soon forget. In an instant I went from nervous wreck to jubilation. Franchises can be turned around when lottery luck shines on them just right. The Lakers, of course, hope they will be next to reap the benefits of said shining.

Things are and are not that simple, of course. The Lakers are ensured an ability to draft any but one player available in the draft; they will have any choice, but the one the Timberwolves take with the #1 overall selection. Rumors will swirl between now and draft night who Minnesota will take, but ask many fans in the Twin Cities area (and beyond) and they will tell you who the choice should be: Karl Anthony Towns, of course.

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Erez Buki is a long time reader and commenter under the handle P. Ami. Heading to live in the Bay Area this summer, Erez has had the pleasure of following the Lakers while growing up during the Showtime era in LA, seeing first hand what great team basketball looks like when played by the greatest players. Having lived around the world he learned the game playing street ball all over Manhattan and Brooklyn, the university courts of Beijing, the indoor games of Portland, Oregon and plenty of stops in between. It turns out you can make out the words Lakers, Kobe, Shaq and Magic in all the language groups on this planet. He is currently working on a his degree in Medical Anthropology waiting for the iconic Laker his young kids will grow up loving. This is his inaugural post on FB&G, but there will be more to come.

At least half of you had your feet off the ground at the same moment I did in June of 2010. We were up in the air feeling love when Lamar “hail maryed” the ball to the other side of the court and Kobe caught up to it. Up we went with him. The other half of you where in the air at the moment I landed. That is the love we all share. Since that time, our team has landed and landed hard. In five years, we’ve seen a lot of landing, some falling and often some clutching.

We don’t know if Kobe will be healthy next season. Don’t know if the Lakers will sign an impact free agent. Until recently we suffered the uncertainty over whether we’re getting one of those top-five picks. We are not used to feeling this kind of uncertainty in late April, but here we are. I don’t want to develop this bad habit. So lets focus on exploring the most imaginative part of the front office’s job, what available players in the draft may contribute to long playoff runs in the future.

It is impossible to know for certain who the Lakers will draft with the 27th and 34th picks in this up coming draft. It is also impossible to know if these players will ever have any impact, but I’m going to talk with you about the players that could be available to us in the late 1st and early 2nd rounds, the team’s more traditional draft position.

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Renato Afonso is a long time reader, commenter, and friend of FB&G.. He is based in Portugal, played semi-pro hoops, and after that coached his alma mater for two years. He now passes his time in a veteran’s league while waiting the arrival of his first born. This is his inaugural post at FB&G. Welcome, Renato!

In today’s NBA there’s a lot of talking about spacing, ball sharing, efficiency and advanced statistics. Teams like the Rockets assume that feeding a big man in the low post is nonsense and the long two is absolutely forbidden, maximizing the number of shots at the rim, three pointers and free throws.

But this new way of thinking can only be applied when you have good three point shooters, guys that are able to get to the rim and good free throw shooters. Obviously, a free throw is always uncontested but one can argue that an open midrange jump shot may be the most effective shot an offense can get at any given moment. Sometimes the defense doesn’t allow you to finish at the rim or simply denies open three point shots and all you’re left with is what the defense gives you. When such thing happens there’s an obligation to convert those midrange jumpshots. With this, the best shot isn’t necessarily a three pointer but actually the available open shot. It goes without saying that long contested twos are obviously worse than long contested threes. This is also assuming average players and not statistical outliers like our own Kobe Bryant.

In the midst of these thoughts, I found myself completely absorbed by the Grizzlies-Warriors series that proved that there are different ways to run an offense, there are different ways to play proper defense and talent can be presented in several ways.

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Is it just me or is the sun a bit brighter today?

Even if it’s not, it sure feels like it after the Lakers not only held on to their top-5 protected draft pick, but moved up to the 2nd slot overall by leapfrogging the Knicks (sorry, Phil) and the 76ers (more on them in a minute) at Tuesday’s NBA Draft Lottery. No, the Lakers didn’t get all the way to #1, but getting to #2 is a fantastic turn of events for an organization which hasn’t had many things go right in the last two plus seasons.

So, in the wake of all this happiness, below are 10 thoughts in the aftermath of the Lakers lucky lottery:

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We are about six week away from the start of training camp and the Lakers are making moves to finalize their roster in the lead up to camp. While the team will likely carry as many as 20 players into the preseason, I expect the team to carry no more than 14 once the regular campaign starts.

Of those guys who I fully believe will make the final cut, one will surely be Jordan Clarkson, the rookie (point) guard who the Lakers selected with the 46th pick in this past draft. It was announced this week that Clarkson was officially signed to his rookie deal, a formality that many had been waiting for. The terms of the deal were not released, but per Eric Pincus of the L.A. Times and Basketball Insiders, Clarkson’s deal is a two year contract with the first season fully guaranteed at a shade over $500K and the second year not guaranteed at nearly $850K. Considering the Lakers paid $1.8 million for the right to even draft Clarkson, it’s no surprise that his contract is structured the way that it is.

I will admit, I have a slight irrationality towards Clarkson. His combination of size and athleticism paired with his good showing in Las Vegas on the summer league team, leave me thinking he has a future in this league. I have compared his game to Monta Ellis’ and while I don’t envision he will be as good as the former prep-to-pros standout, I do think Clarkson can find his niche as a combo guard who can score and run an offense capably enough to stick in the league for a long time. In a way, he’s a hybrid of two former Lakers’ 2nd round picks, bringing the size that Darius Morris offered and some of the scoring instinct that Andrew Goudelock displayed. What Clarkson has that neither of those two did is an NBA ready quickness (as well as more athleticism than either) — a trait that will surely help him as he adjusts to the pace and tempo of this league compared to what he saw in college.

With that tempo, Clarkson will need to adjust and learn how to run an NBA offense in a way that involves others rather than only looking for his own offense. He can likely survive as a scorer initially, but at some point defenses respond to what you are and you either adapt or fade away to the end of the bench as effectiveness wanes. I have hopes that Clarkson will overcome, but as a second round pick he has a lot of growing to do. I think he can do it, but as I noted before, I’m not fully rational about this one. Time will tell.

Though Clarkson inked his deal, the Lakers are still looking at other players at all positions. According to Sam Amick of USA Today, the Lakers worked out 8 players this week:

After missing out on LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony in July, the Lakers held a free agent workout Tuesday in Los Angeles. The workout included forward Michael Beasley; big men Dexter Pittman, Greg Stiemsma, and Daniel Orton; and guards Bobby Brown, Toney Douglas, Ben Hansbrough and Malcolm Lee, a person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports.

The name that draws the most attention here, of course, is Michael Beasley’s. This is the 2nd workout the underachieving forward has had with the team. I don’t use that term to discredit Beasley, it is simply the most apt term to describe the former #2 overall pick who has burned bridges (and blunts) with nearly every team he’s come into contact with since he came into the league. Beasley possesses prodigious talent and an ability to let it escape him routinely via poor choices both on and off the court. There is a reason he’s unsigned at this stage of free agency and why he’ll be lucky to latch on with any team for a non-guaranteed minimum salary.

The others names on the list are a mix of big men who offer bulk and the hope of shot blocking and some nondescript guards. The name most people will recognize is Toney Douglass, the former Knick, Warrior, and Heat who will ply his craft in China in the immediate future. The name that interests me the most, however, is Ben Hansbrough, brother of former Pacer (and UNC College Player of the Year) Tyler Hansbrough. Ben went undrafted out of Notre Dame the year the Lakers selected the aforementioned Morris and Goudelock, taking his game to Europe rather than staying stateside. Hansbrough isn’t a very good athlete, but offers grit and and some shooting chops that could land him a gig in the NBA some day.

His name interests me, though, because even with Clarkson on board, the Lakers have to be exploring the idea of signing another point guard unless they want to go into the season having to either 1). depend on Steve Nash for minutes or 2). depend on playing Kobe or Xavier Henry out of position at PG for stretches. Some might be comfortable with just letting Clarkson play backup PG and that may very well be the plan. But one injury means the team is in the same hole they were last year with not enough guards on the roster and scrambling for answers via the D-League or street free agents.

We all saw how that worked out last year (no disrespect to Kendall Marshall), so the team will need to keep all their options open can continue to explore how to sure up the final roster as they transition from Summer, to camp, to the regular season.

The move that we looked at heading into the weekend became official on Monday when Ryan Kelly re-signed with the Lakers, signing his name to a two-year contract to return to the Lakers. From Eric Pincus of the LA Times:

Kelly will receive $1.65 million for the coming season and $1.72 million for 2015-16. Both years are fully guaranteed for a total of $3.37 million. The Lakers appear to have used part of their $2.7 million room exception on Kelly, leaving $1.08 million to spend on free agency.

The 48th overall pick from last season’s draft returns to a crowded front court where he will compete for minutes at power forward with rookie Julius Randle and amnesty waiver pick-up Carlos Boozer. Kelly may also see some minutes at small forward, though I still believe that his best position is at the big forward spot where his shooting and offensive skill set are better utilized against players who aren’t as used to defending players who play his style of game.

Kelly’s role, however, is a topic for another day. We still don’t even know who will be coaching the team, so exploring how he fits into the offense and how he can be best utilized within the scheme are a ways off. Instead, then, let’s shift our focus to this season’s second round pick, Jordan Clarkson.

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