Archives For Draft

Lakers’ beat writer for ESPN LA, Dave McMenamin told a great story once about the lottery. Back when the annual drawing of lottery balls was held in Secaucus, New Jersey and Dave worked for NBA.com, he was covering the event. When he went into the bathroom he encountered none other than Jerry West, The Logo, who was washing his hands. Making some small talk, the beat writer asked the executive how he was doing. West’s answer?

“Terrible. This is a celebration of losers.”

Classic Jerry West.

Tonight, the yearly celebration of losers retakes center stage. The teams who did not qualify for the playoffs will be sweating it out as the draft order of the first 14 picks is determined. The Lakers will be one of those teams hoping to have luck shine upon them.

They are certainly not used to this.

Since the inception of the “lottery” in 1985, the Lakers have only appeared at this event two other times. Both years they picked 10th, selecting Eddie Jones (1994) and Andrew Bynum (2005). This is the first time the team will select in the top 10 since the team selected James Worthy #1 overall in 1982. As a tie-in to that pick, the Lakers are sending Big Game James to represent them when the results are unveiled.

As you all know, the Lakers are currently slotted to pick 6th overall. Whether they stay there or not will depend on those lottery balls:

As the odds above state, the Lakers have roughly a 21% chance of jumping into the top 3 picks. They have much better chances — about 74% — of drafting either 6th or 7th. The odds, then, favor the team standing pat or moving down a slot much more than they do them jumping into the top 3*. It’s those slim chances, however, that will have all of us tuned in to see the results.

How lucky will the Lakers be?

Tonight we will find out. My guess? I think the Lakers either stay at six or move up to number two. My reasoning for this is scientific and involves a complicated algorithm. When playing for the Lakers, James Worthy wore #42: 4 + 2 = 6 while 4 – 2 = 2. There you have it.

Enjoy the “celebration” tonight, you guys. Hopefully, like the other times the Lakers have been at this event, they won’t make another appearance for at least another decade or so.

*Some are likely wondering why the Lakers have a zero percent chance of drafting 4th or 5th. The reason is that the lottery only determines the top 3 choices with the rest of the draft order being slotted accordingly. The Lakers, then, can only select at picks 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, or 9. And just as the Lakers can move up because of the lottery, if teams slotted to draft behind them jump up the Lakers will then fall. This is why the odds are so low that the team will actually pick 9th. Three teams slotted to draft behind them would all have to move up into the top 3, pushing everyone else down three slots. 

The Lakers used their lone selection in the draft to select Duke’s Ryan Kelly. The six foot, eleven inch big man was rated as a mid to late 2nd rounder by most talent evaluators, though Kevin Pelton of ESPN did have him ranked as the 38th best prospect in the draft.

Putting aside those things, it’s best to get this out of the way early: we shouldn’t expect much from the 48th pick in the draft regardless of his name recognition, his pedigree, or his skill set. The draft often symbolizes hope in that any player selected is fresh and new, representing a move towards the future. Even for a later drafted player, there’s a desire to think of what’s possible with a tilt towards the positive rather than simply understanding that many players drafted this late don’t pan out.

As Lakers’ fans, we should know this better than most. Over the past several years the Lakers have used second round picks on Derrick Caracter, Devin Ebanks, Andrew Goudelock, Darius Morris, Darius Johnson-Odom, and Robert Sacre. Of those picks, only Sacre remains actively on the team as he was tendered with his qualifying offer before Thursday’s draft. Of the others, Caracter was long ago waived and hasn’t since made it back to the big leagues, Johnson-Odom was waived last season and finished the year in Europe, while Ebanks, Goudelock, and Morris all spent most of last year on the bench or in the D-League and weren’t made qualifying offers for next season.

All of these players, at one point or time, offered promise as potential contributors. And all of them, save Sacre, are no longer on the team. Even Sacre, who can be a useful 4th or 5th big man in the NBA, is a low ceiling player who, if he’s seeing significant time, likely isn’t positively impacting the team in a lot of ways.

With all those qualifiers out of the way, Kelly can still be a useful player in the NBA and the hope is that his relatively high skill in certain areas of the game do, in fact, translate well to this level and make him someone who can contribute quickly and for a sustained period of time.

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Friday Forum

Dave Murphy —  June 28, 2013

Last night’s 2013 NBA draft went from a changing of eras as David Stern passed on his 30-year baton, to a sharp turn down a rabbit hole. Writer/personality Bill Simmons became increasingly agitated over the course of the evening by news of Paul Pierce & Kevin Garnett being moved from Boston to Brooklyn. Matters were compounded by the Doc Rivers trade to the Clippers which had been eating away at the Sports Guy for days. It’s one thing to be a fan of particular regional franchises, it’s another to let your fandom hijack the proceedings. That’s exactly what happened when Simmons opined that Rivers had quit on his team this past season. Moments later, the quote was eagerly relayed to Rivers by reporter Shelley Smith. The rejoinder was that Doc would “call him an idiot but I’m too classy for that.” The jump-cut back to the ESPN panel was more than a little awkward.

Similar to news item number one, the beating to death of Dwight Howard’s supposed intentions took up a good part of the evening. For anyone living under a rock, this mainly stemmed from a breathless Chris Broussard report which per usual, was attributed to sources close to the situation. I’m not adding quotation marks given that Broussard didn’t bother with them either. No need for a hyperlink here – it was provided yesterday

Threading its way through all of this was an actual draft, although it became increasingly byzantine as picks were traded like penny stocks. Be that as it may, the night went on and at some point toward the end of the festive proceedings came the hotly anticipated #48 pick by the Los Angeles Lakers. It was somewhat anti-climatic in the sense that the pick actually makes sense.

Nicknamed the ‘White Raven’ after his high school team, Ryan Kelly was a four-year man and co-captain at Duke. He’s had a history of right foot problems, causing him to miss the 2012 NCAA tournament. This past season he hurt the foot again and missed 13 games. Asked about reintegrating Kelly into the lineup this spring, Coach Krzyzewski praised the senior’s adaptability and intelligence. The stretch forward returned to drop 36 points against the Miami Hurricanes but ultimately re-injured the foot He made it through the Elite Eight where Duke eventually lost to Louisville. At season’s end he had surgery with a 12-week recovery timetable which brought him right up to draft night. Assuming his foot issues are behind him, it’s reasonable to expect he could be of some use in a role player position. Those who chronicled the Blue Devils likened Kelly to a possible Matt Bonner or Steve Novak-type.

Next season’s Lakers’ roster is far from set. While there isn’t any real cap flexibility, players will have to be signed. The latest news has the team declining to renew contracts on Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock. This comes on the heels of yesterday’s news that Devin Ebanks and Chris Duhon will also be moving on to other pastures. And then there’s the Dwight situation which will be bled dry for discussion until it finally resolves itself (my guess is later rather than sooner). If rookie Ryan Kelly can give us 36 points each and every night next season, we should be just fine. Have a good weekend, y’all.

UPDATE: With their pick at #48, the Lakers selected Duke, PF Ryan Kelly. Kelly is coming off his senior year at Duke where he averaged 12.9 points and 5.3 rebounds per game over 23 appearances. Kelly suffered a foot injury late in the season and missed both the ACC and the NCAA Tournament. He’s now recovering from foot surgery and is nearing the end of his rehab.

As for his game, Kelly is more of a face up player with a perimeter oriented game. He shot 42% from behind the arc in his senior season and 45% from the field overall. From his Draft Express Profile:

He lacks elevation on his jumper, but his consistent mechanics and a quick release, allow him to get his shot off without hesitation and with impressive accuracy. He was one of the top perimeter shooters in the NCAA last season, making an impressive 40% of his 4.7 attempts per 40 minutes pace adjusted. His shooting touch translates into an outstanding 81% shooting from the free throw line, as well.

Additionally, he has a diverse face-up game. Thanks to his above average ball-handling ability, he is able to operate very well out of the high post, taking his man off the dribble on his way to the basket. While he struggles to power the ball to the rim, he compensates with a finesse game including running hook shots, floaters, and layups. Furthermore, he has developed an intriguing mid-range arsenal based around his proficiency as a pull-up jump shooter.

At this point, Kelly looks to be very much a pick made for his offensive game because his weaknesses — strength, athleticism, and lateral quickness — all limit his ability on the other side of the floor. Again, from his draft profile:

Though Kelly is a very engaged defender with good instincts and awareness, his physical deficiencies stand out at this level and will most certainly be a problem at the next. In particular, his underwhelming lateral quickness and footspeed make him a liability away from the basket where he struggles to close out on perimeter shooters and is easily beaten off of the dribble by quicker players. At 6-11, he may be better off defending centers in the NBA, but does he have the strength to contain them in the post?

We’ll have more on this pick tomorrow, but my quick take is that it looks as if Kelly is a guy who should fit well in Mike D’Antoni’s system as a stretch PF who can play on the weak side as a spot up shooter and draw a secondary big man away from the hoop defensively. And while his offensive skill set is limited, players like him can carve a niche for themselves in the NBA should their shot fall with enough consistency to be a threat offensively. Defensively, of course, is another question and it remains to be seen if a player with limited tools on that end of the floor can play well enough both as an individual and in the team’s scheme to not be a total liability.

The NBA Draft is finally here. And while the Lakers only have the 48th pick, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some good options to explore or that they won’t swing for the fences and find that diamond in the rough. It also wouldn’t surprise me if the Lakers try to move up in some way to try and grab an extra pick, be it a 1st round selection or another 2nd round pick that comes before their own selection mid-way through the Adam Silver portion of the evening.

As for other news of the day, there are a few things to report both Lakers and from around the league:

*The latest on the Dwight Howard front is that he’s leaning towards not returning to the Lakers. Chris Broussard reports that Dwight’s preference is to go to either Houston or Dallas and that while the Lakers can’t be counted out, they are the underdog to retain his services. While this report only confirms what many have already thought about Howard’s mindset, I still take reports like this with a grain of salt. If there’s a time to exert any leverage in a situation this is it, so the timing of the leak smells like an angle to get something done that will make the situation more amiable to allow a return. After all, if Dwight was simply going to leave, there’s no sense in even speaking of what his plans are.

*The Celtics are looking to continue their off-season overhaul that’s already seen them trade head coach Doc Rivers to the Clippers by trying to trade Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Nets. While the deal isn’t done, it’s said that talks between the two teams have momentum and that something could be done by the end of the night. In return for their two hall of fame players, the C’s would get multiple first round picks and some of the bloated salaries the Nets have on their books (potentially Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries).

*There are lots of reports about teams in the top half of the draft wanting to move out of their current spots. The Cavs are supposedly still undecided on who they’d select in the #1 slot and are still interested in trading the pick. Depending on what the Cavs do with their pick, the Magic could also trade their pick and there are several teams looking to move up into the top 5 in order to secure the player they like best in class in which the differences between the top 5 or 6 players is more about preference and the position they play rather than a gap in talent.

*Don’t be surprised if there are some quality veteran players traded tonight. We’ve already mentioned Garnett and Pierce, but a guy like Eric Gordon could be on the move as could other players who still have value on the open market but have fallen out of favor with their current teams. Draft night is when teams would love to reshape their roster and that goes beyond simply selecting the top amateur on their big board when their pick comes up.

We’ll have more updates as the night goes on, including whatever the Lakers do whenever they do it. For now, have at it in the comments about who the Lakers should take and the other news of the day.

The Los Angeles Lakers haven’t had the greatest success in the NBA Draft in recent years and having the 48th pick this year doesn’t help their chances of ending their slump of drafts that add useful contributors.

And while history shows that there are diamonds in the rough that can be had in the part of the draft the Lakers are selecting, it would be a mistake to think that this is the norm. Since 1990, 16 of the 23 picks selected at 48th overall played fewer than 100 games in their career. Furthermore, six of those 16 never played (or have yet to play) a single game. Only two players drafted at No. 48 overall have averaged double figures in points – Marc Gasol and Cedric Ceballos. Five others (Mickael Gelabale, Alvin Williams, Jamie Feick, Mark Davis, and Isaac Austin) had modest NBA careers.

In short, the chances of the Lakers landing a solid contributor are low.

An All-Star like Pau’s younger brother? Possible, but slim.

That being said, the Lakers still must go out to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and draft someone that they think will help improve their team. For a team that struggled with injuries last year, having young depth would be a welcome addition. So finding that depth is the goal.

With Dwight Howard, Earl Clark, Antawn Jamison, Devin Ebanks, Andrew Goudelock, and Darius Morris all potentially entering free agency, the Lakers could use a contributor at any position. Here are several players that may be available when the Lakers are on the clock:

Mike Muscala, PF/C (Bucknell): The 6’11″, 230 lb PF/C is coming off a fabulous senior year, averaging 18.7 points and 11.1 rebounds per game for the Bison. Most importantly, Muscala was phenomenal in terms of value added. Muscala added 5.31 percent to Bucknell’s scoring and took away 2.67 percent from the opponent’s scoring for a total impact of 7.98 percent – good enough for 12th best in the nation. Despite this, Muscala is projected by NBADraft.net to go at No. 50. The smart numbers like Muscala, but perhaps the lack of exposure he received playing in Bucknell has made him fly under the radar. Muscala played four years in college. Though this may mean that he has limited upside, it could also mean he’s more developed than freshman or sophomore. This is important because there’s a chance he could step up and play immediately, much like Robert Sacre did last year.

DeShaun Thomas, SF/PF (Ohio State): Coming in at 6’6″, 220 lb, Thomas is a strong, quick, and athletic forward who excels on the offensive side of the ball. Thomas averaged 19.8 points per game and added the Buckeyes’ offense by 6.53 percent – the seventh highest offensive value added this year. His weakness comes on the defensive side of the ball, but his offensive ability makes up for it. Thomas could reach and perhaps exceed his offensive potential in Mike D’Antoni’s offensive minded system. NBADraft.net sees DeShaun Thomas going at No. 41 in their mock draft.

Pierre Jackson, PG (Baylor): With Goudelock and Morris both hitting free agency, the Lakers are only left with Nash (who is 39 and coming off an injury plagued season), the inconsistent Chris Duhon and Steve Blake at the point guard position. So, drafting a point guard may not be out of the realm of possibilities for the Lakers considering these factors. Jackson was ranked 13th in the nation in terms of value added and is projected to go in the middle of the second round. The analytics like him and drafting him at No. 48 could turn out to be a steal for the Lakers. Jackson averaged 19.8 points and 7.1 assists per game and he’ll have the opportunity to elevate his game in a point guard oriented system under D’Antoni. Jackson is only 5’10″, but there have been many serviceable NBA point guards under six feet, especially now with the hand-check rules what they are on the perimeter.

Peyton Siva, PG (Louisville): Siva is another point guard that the Lakers may consider drafting. Siva was part of Louisville’s National Championship team this past year and has experience playing in big moments. Siva is also a fantastic defender, taking away 2.65 percent of his opponents’ scoring – 26th best in the nation. The Lakers have a history of poor defense against opposing point guards as their oPER against that specific position was a whopping 18.0. Siva can help mitigate that glaring stat. He is projected to go in the late second round by NBADraft.net.

Erik Murphy, PF (Florida): Murphy’s athleticism and physical strength (6’10″, 240 lb.) would be a welcome addition to the Lakers front court. Murphy was also a senior this year, meaning he probably doesn’t need as much development as a younger player. The big man didn’t put up the most astounding numbers (12.2 points and 5.5 rebounds per game), but he had a 6.45 value added rating – 41st best in the nation.

James Southerland, SF/PF (Syracuse): The 6’8″, 221 lb. forward is expected to be a small forward when he’s eventually drafted. The Lakers currently only have Metta World Peace – who recently opted in to the final year of his contract – as a SF on their roster. Needless to say, they’re thin in that position and could use an athletic forward who can play defense and hit the three ball. Southerland hit near 40% of his triples this past season and also took away 2.23 percent of his opponents’ scoring defensively. Both skills could prove quite useful for the Lakers next season.

Again, there shouldn’t be this huge expectation that the Lakers draft a difference maker in the slot in which they’re picking. That said, finding another contributing player would go a long way in bolstering their depth and with limited ways to improve their roster this off-season, the draft could prove to be a big way to achieve this goal. The team is coming off a year where they received minimal bench production. A steal in the second round, no matter the position, can help the Lakers rebound quickly and ease the team’s transition back to greatness.

(Statistical support from valueaddbasketball.com, statsheet.com and 82games.com)