Archives For Draft

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Heading into the draft, we all thought there was a need for a back court player (preferably and PG or a combo guard that could handle the ball) and potentially a big man (preferably a Center).  However, picking at #43 and #58 doesn’t afford the luxury of cherry picking positions and usually leads to just swooping up the best player available on a team’s draft board.  And if that player fits a need too, then great.   So when the Lakers’ picks came up in the mid, then late, second round they did just that by grabbing WVU’s SF, Devin Ebanks at #43 and UTEP’s PF, Derrick Caracter at #58. 

Ebanks is a pick that has grown on me the more I’ve seen of him and the more that I’ve read.  When the pick was announced my first thoughts were questions about if he’d make the team at all and if he did whether or not he’d ever see the floor at a position where Ron, Kobe, and even Odom will all see time next season.  However, after hearing Mitch Kupchak talk about Ebanks and how he may fit on this team, I understand more of why he was chosen when there were potentially other prospects on the board that filled more pressing needs.  Mitch talked openly about how Luke Walton’s back injury is an issue that is still up in the air and may affect his ability to reclaim his pre-injury form next season.  And if that’s the case, back up wing goes from slight need (in a replacing Ammo kind of way) to a much bigger need (in a we don’t want Kobe and Artest playing 40+ minutes a night kind of way). 

All season long the Lakers saw the effects of not having a capable (and healthy) back up SF on the roster.  And if Ebanks can end up being a guy that can play 5-10 minutes a night, it would go a long way towards ensuring that some of the Lakers main wing players don’t get worn out.  This isn’t to say that Ebanks will definitely fill this role, but he’s a talented young player that is capable and he’ll be given the chance to show that he can step in when he plays in Summer league and (hopefully) at training camp.  On a side note, it’s been mentioned many times but this kid is a dead on ringer for Ariza. Same build, similar skill set, and he even wears #3.  In the linked to interview, Kupchak mentions some of the similarities and differences between Ebanks and Ariza, but it’s clear that the Lakers are hopeful Ebanks can develop into an Ariza type of player that plays good defense and works on his shot to the point that he’s a capable threat from outside.  If the Lakers’ gamble pays off, we may look at Ebanks as a guy that fills a variety of holes in the Lakers roster as he’s a guy that can get out and run in the open court, can finish above the rim, and can provide some slashing in the Lakers half court sets.  With Farmar likely gone and Shannon potentially joining him, the Lakers could use an infusion of these particular skills and if Ebanks sticks on the roster, the team will get them.

As for Caracter, he seems to be a boom or bust type of pick.  However, that’s the exact type of player that you take at #58 in the second round.  If he shows he’s on the right path and plays well you’ve got a potential contributor for a very small investment; if he doesn’t perform, he gets cut and due to that small investment the team can go in a different direction without having to second guess.  Caracter’s undoubtedly a talented player that has the requisite offensive skills to play in the NBA.  By all accounts, he’s got good hands, strong footwork, a wide frame that he uses to effectively earn post up position, and even possesses a face up game out to 15 feet.  He’s also a very good rebounder on both ends of the court.   I mean, his college stats from his Junior (and most recent) season – 14 points, 8 rebounds, 56.7% shooting in 27 mpg - show a player that is efficient and worth taking a flyer on. 

However, there are some red flags with Caracter.  He reportedly clashed with Rick Pitino while at Louisville and showed questionable work ethic on the court and in the classroom to the point that he ended up transferring to UTEP after his Sophmore year.  He is a bit undersized, has struggled with his conditioning and weight, and there have been reports that he’s an immature player that isn’t the most solid of locker room presences.  Obviously these are all qualities that are difficult to take onto any team, but coming to an organization that is as structured and led by quality people as the Lakers can be a postive influence on a player with these question marks.  However, it will be on the player to show that he’s matured to the point that he warrants sticking around. 

Both of these players have NBA level talent, however it will be a matter of how they develop and if they have the work ethic to improve their respective games to the point that they can stick on the roster.  Mitch has already said that both players will be invited to training camp and both are expected to play on the Lakers summer league team.  And while both are long shots to be contributors (and Caracter may even be a long shot to make the team), I’m happy with both of these picks.  It’s never easy filling in the gaps of a top heavy roster and when attempting to do it from the mid/late second round of a draft with questionable depth, it’s even harder.  But I feel the Lakers have done well for themselves by drafting players with good skills and live, active games that could end up adding a dimension of youth and bounce to a team that, while not old, wasn’t getting any younger (especially if Farmar and Shannon leave).

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We already know that John Wall will go #1 to the Wizards. But who will the Lakers take? Tonight we find out.

Before we get into the draft, the big news of the day for the Lakers has to do with Phil Jackson’s statement that he’s leaning towards retiring and not returning to coach the Lakers next season.  We’ll have more on this topic as we get closer to Phil’s self imposed deadline for a decision of next Friday, but we bring it up now because whether or not Phil returns has ripple effects on what the Lakers do tonight in the draft.  Phil runs a specific system – the Triangle offense – and nearly every player on the roster has been brought in because his skill set in some way can be adapted and incorporated into the Lakers’ schemes.  Whether it’s the slashing of Shannon Brown, the shooting of Sasha, or the shooting and subsequent spacing from the PF position of Josh Powell, the players that the Lakers look to add to the roster are guys that can play in this offense and for this coach. Now as we enter the 2010 draft, some of that is up in the air with the future of Phil and the Lakers a bit murky.

That said, the Lakers are still going to need to make some picks tonight and when they’re on the clock, they’ll need to be ready to call a name.  The Lakers have 2 second round picks this year at numbers 43 and 58 and will be looking at the best available player that also fills a need.  And despite the Lakers just winning their second straight championship, there are needs.  The Lakers have 6 potential free agents at nearly every position on their roster.  In the back court, Farmar (restricted FA), Shannon (player option), and Fisher (unrestricted FA) could all be gone next season (though it’s likely that Fisher returns).  Plus Morrison on the wing and Powell/Mbenga in the front court are also unrestricted FA’s that could all be on another roster next season.  That’s 6 players from the Lakers roster of 13 and the team will surely look to replace one or more of these guys tonight with a prospect that can potentially develop into a contributor down the line.

However, problem is with picks this late in the draft it’s unlikely that the Lakers will find that capable player.  As Mitch Kupchak stated in a conversation with Mike Trudell over at Lakers.com, the likelihood of the Lakers finding a contributor at #43 is slim.  And there’s only a sliver of hope that the player drafted at #58 will even make the team.  So while the draft is typically a place where teams look to restock its roster, the Lakers are really only looking for a player (or two) that can hopefully make the team or become a contributor in a couple of seasons.  However, that’s not to say it’s impossible.

The Lakers have had some success with second round picks and will look to find that diamond in the rough or that niche player that can fill a role.  Remember, Ronny Turiaf was taken at #37 and Von Wafer was taken at #39.  Marc Gasol was taken at #48.  So there is hope that a capable player can be found and molded into a guy that can soak up some minutes and do it on the cheap.

So, who are the players the Lakers are looking at?  As I mentioned earlier, the Lakers are likely losing role players (or at least warm bodies that could be called on in a pinch) at PG and in the front court.  So, look for the Lakers to draft a player (or two) at these positions to try and find a replacement for these potential losses.  Some of the guys that the Lakers (reportedly) brought in for workouts (note that this list may not be complete) play these positions and include recognizable names like Sherron Collins (PG, Kansas), Jon Scheyer (PG/SG, Duke), Jerome Randall (PG, Cal), Dexter Pittman (C, Texas), and Brian Zoubek (C, Duke).  All of these guys fit in one way or another, but none of them are truly wow prospects that I see as potential starters down the road or even rotation players in their first season.  However, they’re all guys that could end up playing for us down the line as they fit a need or fill a hole that is likely to be present sometime after July 1st.

Honestly though, I’m no expert on this.  The guys that are – the mockers at several sites – break down the Lakers’ selections as so:

Draft Express: #43 – Brian Zoubek (C, Duke), #58 – Dexter Pittman (C, Texas)

Chad Ford, ESPN: #43 – Willie Warren (SG, Oklahoma), #58 – Brian Zoubek (C, Duke)

NBADraft.net: #43 – Greivis Vasquez (PG, Maryland), #58 – Alexey Shved (PG/SG, Russia)

So, this is where we’re at.  Maybe the Lakers end up with Zoubek and/or Pittman (I’d be okay with either).  Or maybe one of the picks is Warren, Randall, Vasquez, Scheyer, or Collins (who all have qualities that make them draftable and potentially solid pros, but none that make them stand out).  I have no clue, but that’s what the draft is about.  It’s the intrigue of the night and the suspense of who will be the next Laker that will have me watching.  And I’m sure that you’ll be watching too.  So, who’s your pet guy?  Who would you like to see the Lakers draft?  Let me know in the comments and why you think he’d be the right pick.  If your guy ends up being the pick, we may just use your words of wisdom when we recap this entire thing.

Thoughts on Ricky Rubio

Kurt —  June 30, 2009

Olympics Day 16 - Basketball
A couple years ago I got to meet and hang out with Xavier, FB&G’s defacto European corrispondent, and at the time he said I needed to see more of this 16 year old named Ricky Rubio. Now, Rubio and his future plans are the talk of the NBA, and Xavier (a professional youth team coach) kindly has provided us a perspective from Spain on the player and everything going on around him.

Since Ricky Rubio said he was planning to enter the 09 NBA draft I’ve been reading plenty of things about him, some of which I do not agree with. I’ve wanted to talk about him since before the playoff started but the Lakers where on the championship run and Rubio was not in team’s plan I decided to postpone this conversation to a better time. I think this time has come.

First of all, on the court basketball. Rubio is not NBA ready. He has incredible talent, feel for the game and has been playing pro since he was 15, 4 years ago. I read somewhere he has zero althletic ability and the PG transition from college to NBA is tough but from FIBA ball to NBA is even harder. Not every PG hits the league as ready as Rose or Paul. His shooting mechanic scares me, a lot; he has to work on it. Of course his shooting is a concern but so was Calderon’s and look at him right now. Ricky is the kind of kid that would hardly make the rookie all-star team but probably be starting with the sophomores a year later. I have no doubt that Ricky is the second best thing of this draft. He won’t save any franchise, nor will Griffin, but in this weak draft those two are the cream of the crop. Minnesota or the team that finally signs him if he makes it to the NBA, will have a gem to work on, but have to understand that his first year will be a transition year, he’s very young and will take a big leap upwards by his second NBA season. In the future I could see him being an above average defensive PG, Nash-like passing skills but not as close as a shooter.

But then there is the off court issue. Things could have been done better, for sure, but the situation is at a point that is impossible to go back.

The buyout issue: Back when he was 15, Ricky signed his first professional contract that settled a high buyout along with a high salary for a 15-year-old boy, which he approved. Joventut is mostly a club that creates players, finds them at 11-12 and teaches them basketball so they can someday play on the senior team (for the record, two Joventud players have been drafted this year in the first round, Rubio and Eyenga, and also Henk Norel in the second round, Rudy Fernández has also been raised in Joventud youth teams). The buyout is like a security for the team that all the money invested in raising the player will not be lost whenever a richer club comes and pays a few bucks for the kid. During 08 summer, Ricky asked the team to reduce the buyout. There were rumors of other top European teams trying to sign Rubio and Joventut offered him to lower by the half his NBA buyout by doubling the money an European team should pay. Rubio didn’t accept that saying he was planning to complete the whole contract with the team. A year later, he denounced the team that has created him for not lowering the buyout to let him play in the NBA. His agent says that his salary is too cheap compared with the high buyout. Usually, it’s the new team that pays the buyout or a compensation agreed with the club, but as the NBA do not allow teams to pay it, the player has to clear that issue. A friendly agreement was arranged last year with Rudy Fernández but after this public denouncing a friendly ending seems almost impossible.

Being the 5th selection: That was really a kick in his balls. If Minnesota jumped on the 2nd pick and drafted him there would be no problem (unless the second was Memphis where he wanted nothing to do with them, his feelings are that Mayo is Memphis PG of the future plus other Spaniards with similar winning mentality as him having trouble there). Don’t make any issue about the “Minnesota is cold” thing. He also said about OKC that his best friend lives nearby. As I read that I talked to that friend. After the conversation I had the impression that the answers where just that, quick answers. The important thing here is the money. Being a 2nd or 3rd pick guaranteed him an easy buyout payment in the case a friendly arrangement wasn’t possible. The 4th pick had more problems but he liked the situation for him (few pressure, nice weather and still an interesting contract) but then Sacramento took Evans and Sota just drafted the PG they wanted right after him. That doesn’t give him confidence. How would you feel if you had to pay to take a job and your new company just hired someone to do the same exact thing as you? With his contract set by the 5th pick, his chances of paying the buyout and still make some money rely on playing on a big city team where he could sign for bigger sponsor endorsements. But the reason the Kings or the Thunder didn’t select him is Dan Fegan. Rubio did few workouts because of his agent. A big buyout from Spain and no possibility to really test the kid against other players is what kept the Kings perfect fit away from him. His aggressiveness and bad ways were well reported as happened with Yi. When I found out that Rubio signed with Fegan my first thought was “Oooh god, that’s gonna be ugly”.

The future: in coming days we’ll know what the judge say about the buyout issue. That will determine how hard will it be to be free from Joventut. Coming back to his longtime club seems unlikely as team president said, “asking a judge to take part opens a wound which remains open” so he’ll probably be looking for another Euro team (Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Unicaja Malaga are considered frontrunners) or signing with the Wolves or the NBA team that hold his rights.

I’m a Joventut season ticket holder, I coach for the youth program that developed Ricky before he went to Joventut. I’ve seen a lot of this kid and he deserves being in the NBA. I fully understand that he doesn’t want to go to a losing team or a team he feels he don’t fit if he has to pay for it and I really wish him the best, but I’m not happy with how the things have evolved. Both Spanish and American agents have done a bad job and the kid is paying for it.

—Xavier

Lakers Draft Day Trades Abound

Kurt —  June 25, 2009

NCAA
In the first round, exactly what was supposed to happen, happened. The Lakers selected Toney Douglas, who very soon was traded to the Knicks for much needed cash (rumored to be $3 million) and a future second rounder (2011?).

The second round, the Lakers took an American in the Ukraine — Patrick Beverley. Then, just as we were learning about him, the Lakers traded him to the Miami Heat for a future second rounder and more cash.

It’s all about the cash — we want Ariza and Odom both back.

With the 59th pick, the Lakers took Chinemelu Elonu — a 6-10 F/C out of Texas A&M who likes to bang and has a real NBA body, but who apparently is very raw. Let’s be honest, this is the kind of guy the Lakers likely bring to Summer League and in as camp fodder, but who will likely spend a year at least in the D-League before making an impact. The Lakers front office is saying he can compete for a job, that they had him the 34th best guy in the draft, but to get a roster spot he is going to have to beat out DJ Mbenga or Josh Powell, two proven pros with some diversity to their games. And they are guys who know the system. Elonu has a real uphill climb. The fact of the matter is, the Lakers are not going to pay the luxury tax money for some guy to learn on the job, he has to prove he can contribute.

No, the Lakers did not take Nick Calathes, the one guy a lot of us wanted at 42. But to be honest, we wanted him because he is a known quantity. He played at Florida and worked out with David Thorpe (who promotes his guys hard). But the fact is, we never really see any of these guys. We don’t really know, it’s all second hand stuff. So, we need to trust the judgment of the Lakers overseas scouts.

Lakers Moves And Draft Day Fun

Kurt —  June 25, 2009

Oklahoma-UNC
We all knew two things: 1) The player selected at 29 by the Lakers was not going to see any meaningful court time on a stacked Lakers roster; 2) The Lakers needed money to resign Trevor Ariza and Lamar Odom.

So the deal that the Lakers apparently struck with the Knicks makes sense. ED Note: Okay, I’ve got confirmation on this now from several sources:

The Lakers cannot trade this pick, only the right to the pick once it is made. So on the dias tonight they will say “The Lakers select X” but said player will instantly be traded for cash once the selection is made. That deal just cannot be executed until after the pick is made. NBA rules prohibit the trading or selling of first round picks in consecutive years, and the Lakers 2008 and 2010 first rounders belong to Memphis in the Gasol deal.

And if that number is right and the Lakers really get $3 million for that pick, that is a great deal by Kupchak. Combine that with the money saved not having to pay a first rounder and it is more than $4 million in savings, which covers a lot of what Ariza will get next year.

And I’m good with this. The Lakers need the cash more than a Euro player to stash away for a couple years. And I expect them to take at least one of those guys in the second round anyway.

Now, a few final thoughts heading into tonight.

• My short and sweet take on the Shaq to Cleveland trade: Cleveland is a desperate team and this is a desperation move, but it’s not a bad one. Now you will have Shaq taking up Big Ben Wallace’s useless minutes, and that will be an improvement. He will split time with Big Z (I bet 26 for Shaq, 22 for Z, in that range) so Cleveland gets some frontcourt depth. Shaq has defended Howard well in the past. Shaq can still score in the paint pretty efficiently. I think this makes them better if everything goes right.

But there are 423,856 ways this could go wrong. Shaq brings a lot of ego to Cleveland. He and Big Z are not exactly known for staying healthy. And this is just one piece of what Cleveland has to do — they shot 32% from three against Orlando and Shaq makes it easier to just pack the paint on Cleveland and dare them to beat you with the jumper. They still need some guys on the wing to compete with the Lakers and probably a healthy Orlando or Boston. And I have serious questions if Mike Brown is the coach that can pull it all together. Still, this is a step forward for them.

• I don’t put much stock in these, especially with all the trades we will likely see tonight, but here are the Final results from some top mock drafts regarding the Lakers:

DraftExpress: Nick Calathes 6-5 PG/SG, Florida and Greece (Jon Brockman 6-7 PF Washington; and Lester Hudson 6-3 PG/SG Tenn. Martin in the second round)

Chad Ford, ESPN: Toney Douglas, 6-2 SG, Florida State. (Rodrigue Beaubois, PG, France; and Dante Cunningham, F, Villanova in the second round)

NBAdraft.net: Toney Douglas, 6-2 SG, Florida State (then traded to Knicks). (Darren Collison 6-1 PG UCLA; and Courtney Fells, 6-6 SG NC State in the second round).

• I like Top Chef Masters, but it lacks the drama of the regular Top Chef. The problem is these chefs, while great, have made it to the top. And they all like and respect one another. So if they fall short they still publicize and get a little money for a favorite charity, then go back home to being a rock-star, James Beard Award chef. In the regular Top Chef, these people are cooking for their careers, that gives real drama to it. Still, with no hoops on it’s a fun summer watch.

• Top Chef Masters has about all the drama of the #1 pick in the draft, basically. But what the Clippers do the rest of the summer will be much more interesting.

• Now a little technical site stuff. This post will be up and going through the draft if you want to make comments here and we can discuss the trades and moves here. Later, closer to the draft, I will post the TrueHoop Network Chat up, which you can read/participate in as you choose, or just keep the comments flowing here.

At some point during the draft when we have Lakers news to discuss, I’ll start a new thread where we can break down what they and everyone else did.