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.