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.
Justin Anderson is a small forward out of Virginia with good size and length. He is 6’6” with a 6’11” wingspan. The junior weighs in at 230 pounds and much of that weight is in his upper body. The kid is strong. He uses both his strength and foot speed to contain player on the perimeter while bothering shots and passes with his long arms. Anderson has a bit of a hunched stance on defense and if he uses his legs to get low, rather than his torso, he may become an even better defender. I know there are a few folk on this site who will appreciate that Anderson is a lefty. He is very left hand dominant and needs work on his right. He is not great at creating in the half court but he can finish plays created by others. The kid hit 45% of his threes and took four of them a game. That is a pretty good sample size. He only shot 75% from the line.
Lookout below for some highlights. Justin Anderson comes at you hard.
Advanced analysis shows that Anderson became an elite jump shooter off the catch, nailing 1.322 points per possession on catch and shoot plays. He also improved his shot off the dribble where he got almost .9 points per possession. He had a 61% true shooting percentage in his junior year, which is a nice level of efficiency. Almost all areas of his game improved significantly in the three years spent at Virginia and this provides insight into his work-ethic.
Anderson has been working out in Las Vegas on improving his jumper even more while advancing his ball-handling and footwork. Those three elements may just open up his game in the half court. As is, he would be an excellent 3 and D player at the small forward position. While Kawai Leonard would be the dream, Danny Green is a Spur comparison we can reasonably make to Anderson. I can’t help but think of Jimmy Butler coming out of Marquette too. Anderson is an inch shorter, a few inches longer in the arms and more athletic than Butler. Butler’s floor game was more advanced coming out as a senior and he always played with that motor we see in his game today. I wouldn’t say Anderson has that high revving a motor. If the Lakers are looking to fill the small forward position, Justin Anderson is a good place to find their man.
Rashad Vaughn is a possible pick late in the first round. He is still only eighteen years old and played one season with Christian Wood at UNLV. While he is not an explosive player he does elevate well on his jumpers. He is a capable shooter off the catch, curling around screens to create space. The obvious benefits of working out of the triple-threat position are taught to players early on by any coach worth their title. Being able to shoot, pass or dribble from the triple-threat opens up all the possibilities of the game and a player who can exploit all those skills is a valued baller.
In the following you can see a sequence of three scores that Vaughn produced in a one minute span.
Here is another nice sequence from the same game. Two scores and a deflection on the defensive end.
Vaughn has the ability to pump-fake, pump-fake again and then rise up to drill a three pointer.This is not an easy skill. He can set up his shot with jab steps and dances with the ball in his hands. He is also very good at using the pick and roll but tends to use it to score himself rather than as a passer. He gets a little tunnel visioned and will force up shots. I was a little concerned watching him when defended by Arizona as they had two NBA-caliber defenders in Stanley Johnson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. Both gave him problems. In spite of this, Vaughn had a good game with 21 points (in 21 shots) a block, three steals, three assists and five rebounds while covered primarily by TJ McConnell. McConnell will not be invited to the green room in New York on draft day. I’m not sure the color of his room on draft day. Hopefully its a room with colors to help him concentrate while studying for the GMATS. I do expect that both forwards, especially Hollis-Jefferson, will give NBA players problems and be lock down defenders. It should be expected that an 18 year old shooting guard will need more time to develop his game against the top defenders in the league.
Vaughn did shoot 38% from behind the line for the season. He hit less than 70% of his free throws but was close to 50% on his two point shots. He is very strong, can finish through contact and uses his strength on defense. I would expect a player to be able to improve their free throw shooting and become an even more efficient scorer. Especially with Vaughn’s willingness to attack the rim, he should be able to use the free-throw line as a weapon. One would like a larger sample size for his game but a tear of the meniscus, and subsequent surgery, limited him to 22 games played. Obviously, knee surgery is a red flag.
Vaughn is a talented scorer who has an offensive game he can use anywhere on the court. From finishing at the rim, nice floaters, midrange jumpers, and long range bombs he is a scoring guard. He has strength and touch. He can defend but had problems with his defensive discipline. I would not explain away this problem with noting that UNLV’s whole team was defensively undisciplined, but then again he is still very young and a good coach can do wonders. This project may well be one Byron Scott is suited for. There is very little not to like about Rashad Vaughn.
Interestingly, Draft Express and Chad Ford both had Vaughn going to the Lakers with that #27 pick in an early June version of their mock drafts. I would rather have Justin Anderson as his defensive potential is slightly higher. He is the better athlete, if less of a natural scorer. Anderson has been coached better, has had more success and his game has shown improvement over the his three seasons at Virginia. I’m also weary of guys who have already had a blow out in their knee. I will continue to assess some swing players in future posts but I do want to talk a little about another big.
I do mean a big man. At seven-foot, two hundred and fifty-eight pounds, seven foot 5.5 inch wingspan, and a standing reach of nine foot and five inches, Robert Upshaw is humongous. If you were just to look at his game you might see him as a very good prospect. He rebounds at a high rate with over 8 per game. He averaged 4.5 blocks. He finished three quarters of his shots around the rim and shot 60% in general. Then he was dismissed from the University of Washington’s basketball team after 19 games. This was his second dismissal from a college team as his time at Fresno State ended similarly. There has been talk about substance abuse. Upshaw himself blames immaturity. He seems committed to working hard at P3 training camps in Santa Barbara. Lets just say, most of us would memorize the same message about hard work and maturity if we had a few million dollars hanging on our ability to convince a team to pick us.
It is the ability you see in the video below that has maintained some viability for Upshaw’s draft prospects in spite of some concerns.
While Upshaw would normally be a lottery pick, there are more red flags to consider. His defensive fundamentals are not great. He lets smaller, weaker players get deep position on him. He does not hold an athletic stance through out full possessions. He relies on his strength and length to get his blocks and rebounds, not footwork and smarts. He turns the ball over quite a lot and while he gets fouled at a very high rate he does not make teams pay at the line, making only 43% of his free throws. There was also an undisclosed issue with his heart that came up from the NBA physical. Supposedly this is not an issue.
Upshaw can cover a good amount of space but often does not put in the effort to do so. He is working on his body. There is footage of him from Draft Express showing his work on his core strength and legs. The footage from Santa Barbara shows him hitting turn around jumpers, three pointers and up and under moves. Is this an indication of a growing skill set or is it the weak effort of his competition at the scrimmage? We have seen players like Dwight, DeAndre, Marc Gasol and others learn to play defense in the league. Upshaw is not the athlete that Dwight and DeAndre are and he is not the well adjusted prospect that Marc was. As fans of the Lakers we have seen Kareem, Vlade, Shaq, Pau and even Bynum make their mark in the league. I suppose some of us saw Wilt too.
The front office has seen how profoundly a big man can change the course of the franchise. While our wing players, like Jerry West, Magic and Kobe have fronted the franchise, our centers are what place the Lakers’ head above the rest of the league. This was the basketball orthodoxy and franchise self-image in play when we went out and got Dwight. Upshaw is not as skilled as the above listed Lakers greats but if everything falls in place with him, he could become a center that warps the defensive end of the court and gives solid contributions on the offensive end. I would not take a chance on him with the 27th pick but I would be interested to see what a franchise that built 16 championship teams around big men decides to do if Upshaw is available.
Tim A. says
Spot on re: Justin Anderson. Sounds like you’ve seen him play a little more than I have, but so much of your insight lines up with what I’ve observed. I’m doubtful he’ll be available at #27. (Could there be a Laker move to get higher in the first?) But if he’s there, he’d be a tremendous pick up.
Am fascinated by Upshaw. Never saw him play. Hypothetically, would you like him to be paired with Jahlil Okafor? Sounds like their combined free throw shooting would be double Shaq bad. But maybe Upshaw’s athleticism on defense would be a necessary complement should a potential Laker front court of the future feature big line-ups with the Big Dismissal and the newly crowned NCAA champion.
Very nice post!
Thanks for putting it out there.
Thomas Rickard says
I find Upshaw intriguing, but if Lakers go with a big at #2 they almost have to look at sf and guards in latter picks, I live in Vegas and watched UNLV a lot and while I think both players have potential I’m afraid they’ll take more time than the Lakers can wait, it’s unfortunate that the coaching isn’t equal to the recruiting, UNLV has had some great talent.
Craig W. says
This post would seem to fit our team needs better then the post with Wood/Harrell/de Paula.
If we get Oakfor with the 2nd pick, does that rule out Upshaw with the 34th pick? Upshaw could play D-League for the year to prove himself, then join the parent club toward the end of the year. What a front line that could become.
With Towns, I see Upshaw as even more a possibility.
Certainly a big risk though.
I agree #27 should be some kind of wing help, unless there is a player out there who has just dropped too far.
I think 27th and 34th unnamed chips are valuable players. You can either develop them and turn them into another Clarkson or this latest craze, Villavedova or use them as fillers in repackaging our tradeable players. Therefore, keep them after all they are 27th and 34th while Lakers should be ready to spend, they owe it to their fans who paid for premium tickets for no-show in the past two seasons.
George de Paula would be my choice for one of the latter picks. He’s got pure PG skills but has an emerging offensive game. If the Lakers keep Clarkson, de Paula would allow Jordan to play the two.
Tim & Craig,
I am on the Upshaw bandwagon as well. Pairing him with either big we get at #2 (especially KAT) would be a dangerous combination. From the tape I’ve watched on Upshaw, he is very raw but has all the tools necessary if he is coached up the right way (que past Laker bigs), to become a major anchor in the NBA. Also, listening to this kid talk recently about the changes he’s made in his life is very convincing, he has hired a few life coaches and sounds very humbled. Grabbing him at #34 is my dream scenario (I believe he will fall due to the heart issue).
Other than that I do love Justin Anderson, he brings an element of grit on both ends that I believe the lakers have lacked for many years, also when you see a player has worked at something he wasn’t very good at (shooting) and then turns that into a strength – it is very encouraging about his work ethic. Hope he is available at #27
I want to be on the Upshaw bandwagon, but I can’t get aboard. He was kicked off of two teams. A guy with his talent has to do a lot to get kicked off. Clearly he late lottery talent, but what good does it do if he becomes a cancer. A) he could get suspended for drug use (missing a year wouldn’t be so bad considering his talent), B) he could get other players in trouble (last thing I want is one of the Lakers being involved with guns and a stripper because they wanted to hang out with Upshaw) C) it is not hard to see him be a distraction and with LA’s media it could be a full blown circus D) you could give up a chance to get a Euro that you stash that becomes either a valuable trade piece or a future player when you are over the cap and are limited in bringing in new players, and lastly E) you can get him from the team that releases him like Whiteside. He is such a parallel of Whiteside only more likely to do something stupid. I think in five years wen he matures would be a better time to get him. I hate saying that because he seems like a nice kid that just doesn’t make the right decisions. Everything he says now most likely comes from his agent. Much like Larry Saunders there is a decent chance his demons haunt him and once he gets a big contracts he quits. That being said he really fits the (Saunders, Gobert, Whiteside) mold and will either be the steal of the draft or a complete bust. There is almost no middle ground with him and I can’t ever remember really feeling that way for a prospect. I don’t like the idea of gambling like that but wouldn’t be that upset if the Lakers did. That is truly a swing for the fences move.
@ Justin: Agree on Upshaw — steer clear of him. If Kobe were young and could provide support and structure then maybe you’d feel better about taking that risk. However, the Lakers will be a young and impressionable group for the next few years. No need to add a likely headcase to the mix and potentially distract from forward progress.
Woj saying that Detroit has gotten Ilyasova for Butler and Williams–looks like an indicator that Monroe is leaving Detroit.
Craig W. says
I would think Justin Anderson would be a clear choice at #27, but really doubt he will be available.
I would seriously consider Upshaw at #34, but no higher, if he is available – the only reason I think he may drop to there is the heart issue/non-issue. The character issues are very real, but I think we will employ Kobe beyond next year, in some capacity. The reason is scarcity of talented, defensive bigs.
…and that Milwaukee is preparing to match on Middleton. I think Monroe will sign with New York.
@rr: I think Monroe will sign with New York.
I was a big advocate of signing Monroe. But the priority changed when we got a top 2 pick and a chance at Towns or Okafor. Now if Mitch drafts one of the young PGs at #2 then signing Monroe would become more of a priority as we’ll need someone to play the Five.
david h says
ezra: another fine post on the upcoming potential/prospective nba and laker draftees. especially liked your cross comparisons between Justin Anderson and Rashad Vaughn.
any chance lakers take a look see at kevin looney and any possibility he could be converted to small forward? gotta like how he goes after rebounds and has a nice touch around the perimeter. and always a sticking point for me, shoots well at the free throw line.
as always, keep up the good work.
I’ve been “on the the Upshaw bandwagon” for a while. He presents a lot of risk but if everything works out you have a guy who can single handledly shore up your team defense. I think on a team without other players being a possible distraction Upshaw can be kept on the straight and narrow. He seems to be saying and doing all the right things. The real wrinkle here is the heart issue. It would be very sad but, he may never play in the NBA if he truly has a problem with his heart that cannot be controlled. If his health is not a question I would do anything I could to get him with the Lakers remaining draft assets.
I would also be very happy with a scenario where the Lakers land Justin Anderson. Seems like a good 3 and D wing.
Do we know in Upshaw has scheduled a workout and interview with the Lakers? Don`t think they would consider him without one, and a medical report. Ironic that he`s in SB with Okafor.
Another good read Erez –
boy, Anderson´d seem like a steal if he dropped to #27, & our FO pulled the trigger on him.
P. Ami says
Thanks for all the complements. Its fun to put these thoughts and observations out there and see what you all have to say. Keep it coming.
Anderson seems to be a few picks ahead of #27 in the mocks I’ve looked at recently. That said, I’ve not yet seen a draft that has gone according to expectations. I’m using the mocks as a starting point and then hoping for the best. Vaughn has risen really fast since I first began writing this piece, so that is just one example of the volatility of the “market”. Couple that with team posturing and jockeying, I don’t know how much stock to put into the mocks. Again, they are a starting point for me to begin analyzing. That said, if we got Anderson, I think he would be a monster for us.
It has been really interesting to look at the UNLV kids since two of them seem within reach of our later picks. While trying to focus on tape of Vaughn I found my eye creeping over to Wood and when I was concentrating on Wood I would suddenly realize I lost track of him because I saw something cool from Vaughn. There is actually a decent amount of UNLV tape on Youtube if anyone wants to look. Less so for Washington, so my views of Upshaw is compiled from a few sources. Just one more comment on UNLV, I don’t know what they do to get kids to their program but if they could find a real teacher to run the show there, they could be a real powerhouse.
The way Upshaw moves worries me. I am a huge believer in core training and fixing gait. I think its especially important before injuries crop up. I do not like how Upshaw moves. That said, it takes dedication to improve in those areas. Hopefully Upshaw sticks with it, has found himself, and can make a mark in the league. I’m also a big believer in redemption but, for me, if I had to choose between Upshaw and de Paula with the #36 pick, I go with George. I just think he has better character. I’ve seen nothing but a willingness to improve and work hard, while from Upshaw I see him outworked and only bailed out by his athletic gifts. Put another way, Upshaw and De Paula may have similar ceilings for their respective positions but Upshaw has a way lower floor. All that said, I would package the two later picks to get in position to get Anderson if I could.
Re: Looney, I need to take some time and study his game. People like his tools but I want to see the tape and decide for myself if it makes sense for him to become a full-time 3. Keep watching and maybe I’ll talk about him in an upcoming post.
Why not take Barnes out and play Lee to start with Bogut? That keeps Igoudala with his same role off the bench and Barnes playing against tired starters or Cleveland’s role players.
I must be missing something. I thought when there is blood evident on a player he has to cover it up. Good to be the King.
Craig W. says
Upshaw is at P3 with Okafor. They are specifically testing for structural flaws and developing a program to minimize problems in the way players move. I would think that would be very valuable for Upshaw. However, I suspect the Lakers should demand to see his results – they belong to the player, not any organization – before they draft him.
After drafting Okafor, I would think they would like to see his results, so as to tailor his in-house training program for his body.
I didn’t get to see most of the game… (Bay Area traffic.) Was the game called differently in the first half? I’m hearing some complaints about the refs. I saw a replay where Lebron injures his head. It looked like he tried to sell the foul by diving and it backfired a bit.
Still thinking Warriors in 7.
Great write up P Ami! Justin Anderson seems like a steal if he’s still around at 27.
Craig W. says
Tonight the Warriors got running again. After three games the shortened Cleveland bench just couldn’t get it back together. The impact of GS speed is cumulative. If they keep it up Cleveland simply cannot stay with them over the entire game – look at the 4th qtrs of the last two games – James is gassed and so are the other players. As great as he is, he needs some help to get over the ‘hump’.
There will be a two day break until game 5. I don’t think Golden State can rely on the Cavaliers being tired next game. They cannot let their foot off the pedal. Make the Cavs pay for their lack of depth.
I put a lot of emphasis on character. Upshaw was kicked out of 2 teams for a reason. He reminds me a lot of Larry Sanders or JaVale McGee. These guys are out of the NBA because they are knuckleheads. They have lots of potential, but just weak mentally. Supposedly, Upshaw has heart problems too? No thank you.
If Justin Anderson is on the board at #27, I’d take him in a heartbeat. Some weaknesses, but for a late first rounder – nice.
I was having my doubts about Steve Kerr, not being outcoached because Lebron James coach the Cavs, not David Blatt, but going with that lineup was brilliant, all season long i thought that Iggy should be the starter, I really like Barnes but at this stage he seems to he better off coming off the bench. Thats the way to beat the Cavs, running them out of the Gym, Lebron has done a superhuman job but he cant win this by himself, delly has been a great boost but it’s not enough. Even with Love and Irving the Dubs has the best team. About these late picks, i belueve the Lakers will make some kind of trade before or after the Draft involving one or both picks if the right opportunity presents itself , Mitch has say countless times that that would be too many rooks on the roster. Would be nice to get another Clarkson but i doubt lightning is going to hit twice.
Btw great read P.Ami!!
Being a Star Wars fan if i have available a player named George Lucas i draft the hell out of him and pray i get the Original Trilogy George Lucas, if i get the Prequels GL i send him to the D-League lol
Warren Wee Lim says
The 27th and 34th picks represent another can’t miss prospects, simply because nothing is expected of them. Just as Morey contemplated that rim protectors like Clint Capela actually can be drafted late in the 1st round… so could we find decent to good players here.
There is another angle that you need to consider too. The Lakers are spending it all this summer. We cannot wait for 1 more year to spend it because next year everyone will have cap. That said, you’re going to need an asset with that pick be it on your team or elsewhere.
Saw an article at SSR http://www.silverscreenandroll.com/2015/6/2/8716037/la-lakers-nba-draft-2015-spain-international-scout and have reason to believe the Lakers are auditioning people for #34 rather than #27 … because we plan to pick one of the better bigs in Europe in Guillermo Hernangomez. Antonio Maceiras is his name and he could be a factor in selecting #27 esp that we can let this pick stay in Europe to develop further. After all, you’re not drafting a franchise center w/ this pick, why not let him stay to develop there and bring him in once he’s ready.
At 34, George Lucas De Paula interest me. He has BIG HANDS. Just like Okafor and it would become quite a trend in the future, that athleticism and physical freakness would be required to excel at this sport.
Safe to say I have more confidence that the Lakers take Hernangomez rather than De Paula, but its conceivable that these 2 are their choice picks.
Also, despite our need for versatile 3+D wings and some guy at the swing, we can always sign Demarre Carroll, Danny Green and Al Farouq Aminu. Those are priority signings this year if we can’t land 1 of the big names.
The Dane says
Maybe the picks go into a trade for #1… Wolves want Okafor anyway.
– I have absolutely no clue pertaining to these late picks. Guys who make the NBA this far down the selection list are obviously the exception to the rule. Proverbial needles in a haystack.
– Hoping the dream post season in Cleveland hasn’t ended…but fearing it has.
P. Ami says
I really hope the Lakers don’t spend these picks on getting the #1. The Wolves are going to take who they take, no matter what. So, why pay to take the other guy anyway?
Notice the Lakers have been bringing in Mudiay, Russell and others? These are win-win interviews. They get to see these guys workout to get to know them, plus it leaves other teams, including the Wolves, guessing as to whether the Lakers do have one guy specifically that they want. This makes it less likely that the Wolves trade down with someone else as they don’t know that the Lakers won’t actually take the guy they want. I think the Wolves and Lakers keep their picks unless somebody makes a Godfather Offer and the question is, who can make that kind of offer? That team would need to provide clear value in an area where the Wolves have a need. The Lakers have literally nothing to gain from trading one spot up.
There is a much better chance that the Lakers package these picks to move into the early twenties or maybe the teens in this draft. That said, there is talent to choose from in the area the Lakers are currently picking and a fair chance they can get someone who outperforms their draft position.
J C says
I’ve been wondering why Iggy wasn’t starting considering his D on Lebron. Nice move by Kerr.
A title in his rook coaching year will put him in some very elite company.
Gotta hand it to LBJ. Even winning two games with the crew he’s got has been nothing short of a miracle. Delly owes him a club sandwich — at the Deli.
P Ami, great post, great read.
Craig W. says
Weird observation —
If we assume 15 players/team, 30 teams, and the average life of an NBA player is 10 years (high IMO); then that means 45 new players make it to the league each year. That’s a lot of new players each year. Perhaps that’s why 2nd round draft picks shouldn’t be overly discounted.
I know…Dilly…but you know what I am saying.
@ Dane what it’s being written in the rumor mill is that the Wolves are locked in on towns and the Lakers in Okafor, maybe that will meant nothing between here and Draft night but that’s a strong rumor so far
Craig W. says
Antonio Maceiras was hired as a Laker scout in Europe in 2011. It would seem the FO has had their finger in the European ‘pie’ for longer than many of us had thought.
Mark Heisler is reporting that Wolves have made up their mind – KAT is their man. I’m sure some of it is posturing. Since KAT isn’t working out for any team, I’m guessing that means he wants to come to the Lakers. 12 days more 🙂
If the right guy is available, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Lakers packaged their # 2nd and 3rd pick to get into the mid-teens.
lil pau says
Given the historically low success rate of second round picks ever becoming legitimate NBA players, don’t discount the value of having two ‘swings of the bat’ as opposed to just one. This is an argument against the ‘trading 2 picks for one better pick’ scenario– unless you have strong reason to believe that improved pick is going to work out for you, or fill a very specific function, you might prefer to control two assets in the hopes that one of them is a pleasant surprise (esp on a team with as many needs as the Lakers).
in other news… I must say, the more I study KAT vs JO, the more conflicted I feel– I really can’t be certain which player i want (I guess KAT by a nose). I find this uncertainty, or at least the root causes behind it, to be a very, very good thing.
@Craig, Lakers have had scouts in Europe for more than two decades. That’s why they got Vlade, Sasha Vujecic, Mevadanko, etc. I pretty sure all teams have scouts in Europe after Dirk and Ginobli. From what I have heard is that the Spurs have the best international scouts and the Lakers are in the top five.
By the way I love George Lucas De Paula with the #34 pick. Seems like a better way to gamble than on a guy like Upshaw (who has lottery ceiling I admit). He would be perfect for stashing. If he doesn’t work out you never bring him over with little lost. If he breaks out (like Marc Gasol) he becomes a valuable player either for your team or in a trade. Of course if the Lakers love somebody at #34 I am fine with them taking that person. The draft is such a gamble (which is why they really need to come up with a new system. They should form 2 teams that plays just basic sets and is made up nothing but incoming players and just rotate the team so that everyone gets about the same amount of playing time. Those teams plays all NBA teams twice. It will give every team a good look at how good players are and then at the end of the year those players are put in the draft and they get all new players. Plus you get the benefit of NBA level coaches teaching and training players. Those coaches only real job would be to develop all the players. The 30 teams could split all the expenses but the NBA would hire the coaches. Plus when it comes time to draft players those coaches will give there honest opinions on players without agendas. Scouts could get easy access to watch practices. It takes away so much of the gamble).
From what I have heard is that the Spurs have the best international scouts and the Lakers are in the top five.
I have heard the first and there is obviously evidence for it, but not the second. Also, no one ever said that I recall that the Lakers had no international scouting–just that they hadn’t seemed to be getting international guys lately and I have read that they have cut back internationally over the last few years. Don’t know if that’s true or not.
As to other point–of course. The Lakers were one of the first teams to take a foreign player in the first round: Vlade Divac.
Am I the only one? Watching Justin Anderson shoot the three brings back fond memories of Derek Fish.
Great post, Erez! Agree with you and the other posters that Anderson looks like a nice pickup.
In other draft news, it seems that Russell canceled his workout with Philly at the last minute because he was “sick”. Is he actually sick? Does he have a promise from the Lakers or Timberwolves? Does he not want to play for Philly? It’s all speculation at this point, but it I interesting.
Russell is #1 on my big board. His shooting supports playmakers and his playmaking supports shooters.
Darius Soriano says
In a recent Draft Express Mock Draft, Jonathan Givony had an interesting note when he was making explanations on each pick. When talking about a European Prospect he had going to the Lakers at #27, he wrote:
“The Lakers have one of the best international scouts in the business living in Spain..”
Givony is just one guy, but he is well respected in the scouting community and does have insights into that subject matter. Here is an article on the person he is talking about (Antonio Maceiras): http://www.heinnews.com/basketball/nba/one-on-one-la-lakers-european-scout-antonio-maceiras/
Adding to my previous post:
A guy named Adam Filippi was “Director of International Scouting” for the Lakers until 2011. Maceiras was hired then but does not have that title. Fillipi now works for Charlotte. Jesse Buss is the Lakers “Scouting Coordinator” and works closely with Ryan West.
Here is an excerpt from Darius’s link:
heinnews: Where do you think the Lakers are scouting wise on the European market and where they are heading? Not having drafted many Europeans over the years, do you think they are slow to the market?
Maceiras: To tell you the truth, I cannot give you a right answer on that. I know what the background is. And I know that I am doing my best in bringing in the best possible information. I am not going to think that my job is successful or not depending on the Lakers’ decisions. I cannot predict what the Lakers will decide. And to tell you the truth I prefer to just focus on looking for the players and doing my job than thinking about how the players will fit in the next draft.
Craig W. says
My real point is that our front office does not talk about what they do or don’t do. We fans may have some preconceived notions, but I doubt any of us knows for sure – and that certainly includes me.
Add: Jesse’s title is now “Director of Scouting” as per Real GM and he was “promoted” in 2013.
Scouting: Jesse Buss is our Director of Scouting. Ryan West is his 2nd in command. Not sure how they battled out this war of family trees to determine who runs he department. Googling Jesse’s name yields let’s just say interesting results. We have three college scouts which includes “Chaz”. And the we have the aforementioned international scout who is listed in the 2015 guide as simply “international scout” (no Director there). In the past 6 years we have drafted 2 international players, both in 2011 and neoither of whom have played one minute in the NBA. We do not have any international players on our roster unless you want to count Carlos Boozer and we are about to get rid of him. We also do not seem to covet them as we let Gasol and Kaman walk and traded Sasha.
Myles Andrews says
Solid stuff. Agree with the Anderson take. Jury still out for me personally regarding Vaughn. Refreshing to finally see somebody pick apart Upshaw’s game rather than say his only issue is off-court. The drug use and things he’s reportedly done left many GMs shellshocked, though. I wouldn’t be surprised if he went undrafted and also wouldn’t be surprised to see him land in the bottom of the first, very wide range. Ideal spot for him would be the Warriors or Celtics imo, but certainly an intriguing second round prospect for LA on a non-guranteed deal.
Warren Wee Lim says
So when finally a credible report comes up, all this is BS?
Man can’t stand some of you here lol.
To me, the question of who we take at #27 depends largely on what position the Lakers see Julius Randle best suited for. Clearly, most of us see him playing the 4, but in truth he might best be used as a matchup nightmare at both the 3 and the 4, given his weight loss and reports on his shot development. If he can’t play the 3 effectively, then we’re reduced to hoping one of the special players at the 1, 2 or positions drop to us. Namely, SG Dekker, Booker, PG Grant, Jones, Payne or SF Oubre, Hollis-Jefferson, Anderson. The consolation prizes are PG Wright & Rozier, SG Vaughn & TJ Hunter, or SF Brown. I’d be OK with one of the consolation prizes to go with De Paula at #34 but would really love to see one of the first group fall to us. Would I give up DePaula at #34 to insure one of the first group… maybe. After the first 7 SF projected picks, there’s definitely a dropoff at the swing position. These top 7 look to be taken by the time our turn comes around, but who knows. PG and SG still has some intriguing talent though less than ideal- ie Vaughn/Wright/Rozier/Hunter. I think to see if one the premier swing players look like they may fall. If not then I’d be reluctantly OK giving up De Paula for any of the top 7 SFs, including Anderson.
Its either that or be satisfied with our pick of the bigs. With Okafor, Randle (probably), Hill (maybe), Black and Kelly, I don’t see us really upgrading at the 4 or 5 spot with the 27th. Not just Upshaw, but the other bigs at that spot are either limited athletically, or just not that special compared to what we’ve already got.
This aspect of the “rebuild” I find to just be frustrating. It’s basically like buying lotto tickets and hoping something comes of it. Sure high level draft talent usually end up being rotational players barring major injuries, but game changing players are just so rare. Every year the same old crap, hype hype and more hype of the amazing nature of the top few guys in the draft and how remarkable they will be. Yet, most years this is so far from the truth. Even generational talents like Anthony Davis needed a few years to truly improve and mature into a big time star player.
I suppose young talent is just another “hope” if you have nothing else realistic in the short run to get pumped up about, may as well obsess about these young guys who may or may not amount to much at all. Despite Jordan Hill and Wes Johnson being modest players, there are plenty of first round talents that don’t even end up being as good as those guys–especially with any longevity. I still hope that we luck out this year with a Free Agent, a Jimmy Butler type guy, some RFA of known talent that decides to come here and is still young enough to be patient and not require a win-now type turnaround. That would get me excited, the rest are just uknown unknowns and wishful thinking, mind you its better than nothing, but I want to watch good basketball now. Thus I have to watch other teams play basketball since the Lakers haven’t played good basketball for awhile now and we almost definitely have another year of this crap to look forward to–regardless of draft picks or Randle coming back etc.
Have you guys seen this workout (Kristaps Porzingis)?
J C says
Yes. Porzingis looks pretty legit.
Nowitzki type. Younger version.
He’s viable. Maybe if Mitch wants this guy then we trade down w Philly and pick up another asset.
Man. Porzingis looks really good. This is going to be a tough decision for the FO.
Chris J says
Every year the same old crap, hype hype and more hype of the amazing nature of the top few guys in the draft and how remarkable they will be. Yet, most years this is so far from the truth.
Amen. The draft, particularly for the NBA and NFL, have become a great means to keep fans interested in the sports at times of year when teams aren’t playing. This has given rise to earnings opportunities for traditional media as well as new media. The L.A. Times is paying its NBA beat writers year-round, as are other papers and websites. And with less and less game content to cover as the playoffs transition to off-seasons, the draft is natural fodder to draw eyeballs to ads. Hell, it’s been all most have talked about on FB&G for months.
This is not a bad thing, but the need for more content will always result in lesser content getting prominent play. There isn’t enough actual news to fill the 24/7/satellite TV/web void. So we get crap on a stick lke Stephen A. arguing with Skip’s hairpiece about Johhny Football’s offseason vacation plans. It’s useless filler, as are so many “draft experts” talking about some obscure “can’t-miss prospect” they only hope will catch lightning in a bottle so said expert can later say, “See, I told you he’d be special” later on (while never mentioning he touted Milicic over Melo and Wade, or “future perennial All-Star Ricky Rubio” as well.) They won’t get clicks and page views telling fans Towns and Okafor will go 1-2.
That’s why I wait to see who my team picks, then start paying attention to their play in the summer league and preseason. It’s all so much bloviation otherwise.
JOEL EMBIID SUFFERS SETBACK ON RECOVERY
Philly GM Sam Hinkie issued a release saying, in part: “A standard CT scan on Joel’s right foot revealed less healing than anticipated at this point. … Discussions regarding the appropriate next steps are currently ongoing and we will share an update once it becomes available.” Embiid was the No. 3 overall pick in 2014.
Fine job as always. I actually think that the Lakers’ 2nd of two first round draft picks could potentially be important, especially considering that the Lakers will have a gaping hole at the 3 position this coming year.
FA signings (Demarre Carroll, Danny Green, and Al Farouq Aminu are 3 SF candidates) have got to be a high priority. But the Lakers will need depth at that position and it could be worth their while to trade down and grab someone like Rondae Hollis-Jefferson or Justin Anderson with that draft pick. My only concern is that both players could be gone by, say, pick #21 or so. If the Lakers can manage to exchange their two later picks for a lower first-round draft pick, that could be the way to go. And Hollis-Jefferson or Justin Anderson could end up getting some burn during the first year. That position is a definite need.
Regarding Porzingis’s video, I agree, he looks outstanding. He has a very smooth stroke and outstanding hops. However, I’ve always been a little suspicious of one-on-nothing workouts. A player can show off his athletic skills. But one still doesn’t know how he’ll play in the pressure cooker of NBA-level competition.
If we were to ask, how would Marc Gasol, Tyson Chandler, Dwight Howard, and Tim Duncan perform in a similar workout, the question would be almost meaningless. There’s so much to basketball that isn’t touched on in a one-on-nothing workout. It would be impossible to determine Marc Gasol’s true value in a workout such as that. So…I would urge a little bit of caution.
Having said that, Porzingis looks great playing by himself. He’s certainly an intriguing prospect. He may have to put on about 30 pounds, though.
P. Ami says
All right Chris… Seeing that Wiggins is nothing special, and Parker is garbage; and obviously Anthony Bennet has worked out in spite of all the talk about the weakness of that draft and the weirdness of him going first; and since Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving, John Wall and Blake Griffin are scrubs hardly holding onto their jobs, I can totally see what you are saying regarding any attempts to analyze the draft or consider the value of certain players over others.
Look, I can’t watch most of the content on ESPN. That said, guys like Hollinger (obviously before he moved to Memphis), Thorpe, Givony, Ford, Pelton, Matt Moore, Andrew Schlecht, Zack Harper, Daniel Laroux and a few other writers do an awfully good job of talking about skill set, numbers (including advanced stats), and do not sell their projections as guarantees. The fact is that most consumers of the NBA are not very sophisticated in their views for why players and teams succeed. ESPN caters to those fans much more so then they do to sophisticated fans. We are lucky that we live in an era in which we can subscribe to podcasts and read material where NBA knowledge is not sacrificed for shtick. There was a time when Inside the NBA was worth subscribing to. I think Chad Ford started the podcast, then it went to the very capable Ryan Russilo. Then Legler beat that podcast to hell before Bowen kicked it in the nuts to death. I’m still bitter, as Russilo can both talk about the game and curates his guests well. He has a shtick that does not interfere with his content. Now that Simmons is gone, the only ESPN NBA podcast that respects its audience is the Lowe Post.
I guess I’m trying to say, there is good content out there. There is good analysis. You need to cast a net and filter out the shtick for the substance. When you do that you’ll have an informed position to base a guess on. Ultimately, all human efforts at projection is just that.
Just to recap on the availability of swing players, DraftExpress lists 10 players in their mock going before #27 who are swing players, either SF or SG. This includes 6 SF-Winslow(7), Johnson(12), Oubre(14), Dekker(18), Hollis-Jefferson(22), Anderson(23), 3 SG- Booker(9), Vaughn(21) and RJ Hunter(26)and 1 SG/SF- Hezonja(8). After these ten, the next swing player is SF Brown(31) and SGs Qualls(40) and Takoto(43). So, if this plays out the question is… Would you rather have, say, a player like Oubre/Dekker/HJ/Anderson alone, or Brown plus say La Paula stashed in the D league or Europe? To me its a close call. Also, it may depend on how far up we can trade up and for who. If Johnson or Oubre drop a little to below 15 then by all means do it. For Hunter at say, pick 22, then probably no. Of course this leaves out for now the possibility of taking a point guard like Wright here but I think the point still stands.
While Porzingis is looking pretty good, I can’t imagine the Lakers taking him at #2. He has a nice touch, nice length and is athletic, but he is still rail thin and it’s hard to say how he will fare against physical NBA defenders.
rr, just read that. Very interesting. I wonder if Embiid’s setback will impact what the Sixers are going to do with their pick. Perhaps they will be willing to take a chance on Porzingis with #3?
Warren Wee Lim says
For all the certainty and assurance of landing atleast 1 of the best big men in the draft, the Porzingis workout really reflected something impressive, that he shoots better than most guards/point guards that are in America that are of high regard in today’s game.
Porzee will definitely run circles around Mudiay.
Renato Afonso says
Guys, Porzingis off hand is almost non existentes and he doesn’t seem to have a “feel” of the game. He’s tall and he can shoot but he’s hardly a highly coveted asset in Europeus. Maybe he’ll develop but as of now he’s a couple of years away from being productive in the NBA. I ser more Vesely than Dirk in him…
From reports GM executives are saying Porzingis may be the best player in the draft though Towns is still considered a safer pick. If this is indeed true then the BPA available will likely be Porzingis. By frequent arguments I’ve read here thats who the Lakers should draft. I’m honestly very excited about this pick to see where the Lakers go with this.
P. Ami says
Vasheed, GMs say a lot of things. Remember, this is a game of deception for them. If you watch him play, and listen to unaffiliated scouts, you can get a better sense of the player. Renato has some really good points about Porzingis. His off hand barely exists. He gets easily pushed around. He is nimble but not that athletic. He doesn’t jump high, nor does he jump quickly, nor does he chase rebounds out of his zone, nor does he defend well etc… I see absolutely no comp w/Durant. KD could handle, he dominated in college, he rebounded, he finished in traffic, he was quick as all get out, he could leap, he was a leader. Literally, KD was cant miss. Porzingis is not KD. I don’t remember Nowitzki as a prospect so I can’t really speak to that comp. I actually prefer Herzongia to Porzingis. Besides his athleticism, size and shooting, I like his attitude. The thing is, Kobe is an alpha dog and will keep doing his thing until someone comes and finishes him, Mortal Kombat style. That Croatian kid may just be the kind of baller to do that. I think the comp of JR Smith works. The question is, will he mature more copacetically than Smith has. That is the only question mark for him. Porzingis has way more question marks and, IMO, may also be less talented.
Porzingis had moved up to #3 on Draftexpress prior to the workout in Las Vegas. There does appear to be consensus here. The big question mark is strength.
I think the top of the draft has a lot more chance for the unexpected then I might have thought just a week ago.
This link made my day.:)) Clarification for all the latest who is drafting whom if you haven’t been following lately.
P. Ami says
You make points I agree with in general. I’ve been hoping for Randle to develop into a 3. The weight loss is reassuring. If he gets a bit more verticality and develops his right hand, the kid will be more than effective at the 4 or 3. I think Randle would still be rated high in this draft class, possibly picked around the 7 spot this year too. It’s kind of nice to be getting two high draft picks in to the organization this up coming season. The rebuild is on the way. I just think that the team needs a big with that early pick and with the later picks you just get whomever you project to be the best player. Collect assets and develop them. So, even if Randle winds up being a 3, the team can still pick a 3 at #27. In today’s game, there is so much in the way of FreeDarko, positional revolution in the game that a good coach (when we get one) will either figure it out or the FO will make a move. Get the guys with the game you like and worry about fit later.
I concur with the cautions from Renato and P. Ami about Porzingis. While Porzingis certainly does look good in the video, I’ve always been a little suspicious about one-on-nothing workouts. It’s much easier to dunk ferociously and shoot threes when the only other person in the gym is a camera man.
Think of it. How good would Marc Gasol look in a one-on-nothing workout? Or Tyson Chandler? Or even Tim Duncan? Those questions are almost meaningless. These workouts give us glimpses into a player’s athleticism, perhaps. But they don’t tell us what kind of basketball player he might be. Slam dunk champions aren’t always all stars.
I’m sure Porzingis is an intriguing prospect (although he needs to gain a considerable amount of mass and weight). But I’m inclined to follow Erez’s and Renato’s lead on this one. I think the Lakers would be best served by going with a player such as Okafor who has been through some serious wars and come out on top.
One final word: nice job Erez. I real enjoy your pieces.
Remember the Chinese Dude (Yi Jianlian) who used a chair for his draft workout video ?
And oh, if the Sixers want to trade up, I hope we ask for Embiid + #3 + our pick from next year.
And fries with it:)
Have really enjoyed your write-ups and insights thus far. Lots of good old fashioned common sense there; something that is in short supply on most basketball sites on the web. Besides, anyone who can make such sublime use of the word “copacetically” is ok with me!
I’m a firm believer in drafting whichever big Minnesota doesn’t. If, by some unforeseen circumstance Minny chooses someone else besides KAT or JO, I’d take Towns, based on what I’ve seen as he played in college. His college coach, John Calipari, usually has so much talent on his UK teams that he doesn’t know what to do with it. He, Calipari, has never been good at developing college bigs, only recruiting them. His bigs never display all their skills under his watch. I think Towns has a wealth of untapped potential. I still remember how poorly, IMO, Calipari handled Marcus Camby at UMass. He had the best big man in college spearheading a full court press but never developed Camby’s post game or other big man offensive skills. With all that being said, I like Okafor a lot, too.
I digress. On draft lottery night, I was ecstatic to learn the Lakers would have a chance at one of the two bigs. That hasn’t changed. After watching our beloved team the past two years, I believe they need a big, talented body at center in the worst way.
I’ll leave it at that. Keep up the good work, Erez.
Chris J says
I can totally see what you are saying regarding any attempts to analyze the draft or consider the value of certain players over others.
Actually, I think you missed my point entirely. I never said there was zero useful analysis of draft prospects, or that anyone who attempts to do so is a hack or wasting people’s time. My point was there are far too many people who don’t know much about what will really happen carrying on as if they do, and those who do have a good idea of things can only write so much about the top prospects without becoming repetitive. For those reasons, so much of the build-up isn’t worthy of people’s attention, in my opinion.
Likewise, even those who are 100 percent well-sourced about a player’s ability or a team’s intentions with a pick still can’t be certain how good or bad a player will truly be once they suit up as a pro. How often does it occur when someone once seen as “can’t miss” is a complete bust? Quite regularly.
I agree that there is good analysis available, and of the little bit I follow, some of those writers you named are the ones I would trust more so than the clown-show types I specifically named in my post. Still, at the end of the day the John Hollingers and Mel Kipers of the world only know so much, and rather than get into people’s speculation I prefer to wait until it’s settled and then watch how my team’s guy(s) pan out. Why that got you so riled up I don’t really understand.
(I won’t even go into the Deadspin story about how Chad Ford has retroactively altered the records of his past picks to make himself look better in hindsight, which is a whole different story.)
Regardless of how good or bad yours or anyone’s analysis of the late-round targets may be, there are so many variables in play that I personally prefer not to concern myself on who may be available at 27 or in the second round. Between trades or the inevitable off-the-wall picks some teams may make on draft night, there’s no good way to know now who may or not be chosen by the Lakers.
I’ve got no issue with the information you put together on the players you profiled; my comments were not a swipe at you, so relax on the snide comments directed my way, please.
Haven’t seen anyone dance with the ball like Steph Curry since a young Earl Monroe. Steph is some player. He and Klay are still learning and improving, too. Scary thought for the rest of the league.
The NBA is about speed, strength, and/or smarts. I don’t see Porzingis in possession of either of the first two, and his available videos don’t show anything particularly special w/ regards to the third. He’s tall and maybe can shoot – great, but I’d rather not get a taller Ryan Anderson w/ the #2 pick in this draft.
Have any of you seen the following video of J. Okafor? It’s worth a look-see: http://www.draftexpress.com/profile/Jahlil-Okafor-6469
It shows him excelling in the post (no surprise there) where he looks truly superb as well as passing and working through double teams. This is very encouraging.
– As mention earlier in this post, 6/12/15 @ 7am: “– Hoping the dream post season in Cleveland hasn’t ended…but fearing it has.” I’d be surprised if the Cavs manage to push this to a 7th game. However…
– 30 year old LeBron just became the 2nd leading ACTIVE post season rebounder (15th all-time) behind only Tim Duncan (3rd all-time)
– Next game he will become only the 6th player to score 5,000+ points (currently 4988) in the post-season. Only two ACTIVE players have scored more, 36 yr old Kobe (@ 5640, & 3rd overall) and 39 yr old Tim Duncan @ 5113, 5th overall. And he’s exactly 1,000 points away from passing Michael Jordan (5987 pts) for all-time post season scorer.
-James is already the leading ACTIVE player on the all-time post season assist list w/ 1179, (4th all-time behind only Magic, Stockton & Kidd).
– What makes these numbers more appreciable is that on the all time list for games played in the post season, James, 177 games, is currently 18th (5th ACTIVE behind Tim @ 241, Kobe @ 220, Tony Parker @ 203, and Ginoboli @ 187).
– But as we all know, or sure know…it takes more than one guy to win a title. Nice try LeBron.
Warren Wee Lim says
A brand new offseason plan is in the works. With the draft nearing and the likelihood of free agents staying and leaving getting more intense, the Lakers need to look within and realize what aspect of their game needs more strengthening and which options provide the brightest future.
If the Lakers do end up drafting Jahlil Okafor, we need to find the missing pieces in order to make him successful. If indeed he is the next great Laker center, then he needs someone to pass him the ball, and someone whom to pass to when he commands the double team. Although modern NBA defenses have thrown a variety of looks into defending the post (as in less emphasis) a brute force down low with a variety of options would be the best possible way to compliment this. As much as a stretch-four helps the case, the Lakers need a PG and a sharpshooter better if we want to make Jahlil happy and successful early on.
That is not to say that Jahlil won’t be, but it would surely be helpful to arrive at a scenario conducive to your skills and deficiencies. That’s not to say he doesn’t have to work on his weaknesses, but it would help if he came into a scenario where he would cover those and give him success early. If Jahlil is the prize of the draft, the once-in-this-generation post big man that no other team has anymore, outmoded as it may be, then we need to make this an off-season to surround him.
For all the buzz it created last season, a breakfast between Kobe and Rondo is all that it should be. The Lakers cannot fall into the trap of signing the shell of his old self Rondo who’s jumper has not only gotten worse, its reached a point of no return. So if all you want is a PG who cannot shoot, no longer a top defender and heading for the big 3-0, then you might want to reconsider spending your 20M in 2yrs.
Instead, go for the prize. Sign Goran Dragic.
Goran Dragic can shoot, pass, penetrate and defend. You can argue he is also 29, but his usage rate is rather low and his injury history is not as decorated. You can say he’s a young 29 having played only 13,045 mins compared to Rondo’s 18,665 mileage. With Dragic, you can be assured that atleast one of your guards can defend, be it in PNR situations or in transition. With Dragic, you can be assured you’d have signed 1 of the better free agents in 2 summers of pursuit. And if you can look at the future far enough like me, he would be the best fit beside Kevin Durant joining the Lakers. A man can dream.
How much will it take to sign Dragic? All of it. For someone being in the league for 7 years, his maximum contract is due for 20.1M starting salary. Why would you pay him 20M? I ask why not. By the time the Salary cap spikes to 108M or so in 2017, paying him 23M then is only 21% of the cap. You can add yet another max contract *cough Durant cough* in 2016 and a bit more again in 2017. Its only getting better from hereonin.
Oh and it assures you that the Lakers are not striking out for the 2nd consecutive summer.
For the remainder of our 23.5M cap space, the Lakers can get creative by trying for trades. Pursuing trades by using assets to shed salary, while being able to sign 3+D guys like Al Farouq Aminu, Corey Brewer or Danny Green should be a secondary, yet as important move.
I am going to ride this campaign until Dragic makes up his mind. Say it with me.
Mozgov and Bogut are tow of the top 15 or so centers in the league and neither one of them had any impact on the game last night because each team played small. Does this give anyone pause about selecting Okafor who’s only real strength is his back to the basket play. Doesn’t the current NBA which emphasizes guard, wings and three point shooting make Okafor a liability?
Might Mitch be better off trading down — picking up an asset while drafting Russell?
BigCitySid: When we analyze teams in college football using metrics, strength of schedule is a very important indicator to consider. In fact, LeBron has amassed all of his numbers playing the majority of his playoff games against teams that wouldn’t have even made it to the playoffs in the West. Had he been in the West, its doubtful that he would have played this many playoff games at this point and collected so many accolades. It doesn’t detract from his dominance as a player, but these are exactly the types of statistics where strength of schedule matter. That said, he is thoroughly outplaying the MVP Curry in this series.
good post Warren; Dragic´s solid, for sure (& i´m with you on K *cough cough* D!)
As for the upcoming draft & the Lakers´ possible choice of big men, I´ve just read the following at SBNation:
`Now we’re looking at an NBA Finals that will close out largely with lineups featuring players between 6’3 and 6’9. Pretty much everyone can put the ball on the floor and step out to hit a jumper. This is the direction the NBA has been going for a while, and now we’re seeing these small, balanced lineups take center stage in the Finals.´
Admittedly I´m `old school´ in the belief that a championship team must have a dominant center, & of course our Purple&Gold history of success has influenced this train of thought; & yes, our `09 & `10 squads weren´t anchored at the post as they had been at the beginning of that decade; nonetheless, the trend alluded to in the paragraph above, i.e. what we´re witnessing in these Finals, & despite LeBron´s channeling Magic at the center spot 😉 , the fact, imo, is that neither team has a true dominant center like Shaq, Hakeem or even Artis Gilmore for that matter (of whom Kareem called one of the toughest defenders he´d faced), so what´ll happen when the next great center arrives on the scene? Sure, he´ll probably be able to pop out and make a long distance two or even a three every so often, but it seems to me we´ll be swinging back, like a pendulum, to a more `classic´ style of bball.
In short, our #2 could be, hope so hope so, the start of a shifting back to a post oriented, inside-out style of dominance.
(Please don´t get me wrong, the Dubs are a whole bunch of fun to watch, but I´d prefer, if it came to fruition, our P&G to go old school, it just seems more solid in the long run.)
Anon – it doesn’t give me pause at all … Bogut was playing like he wasn’t a day over 70 the game before he got benched. Not sure why Mozgov was benched – he’s been over achieving big time. This series doesn’t mean big men are now obsolete.
Anon: Does this give anyone pause about selecting Okafor who’s only real strength is his back to the basket play.
I thought about this, as well, last night while watching the game. Would Okafor been on the floor and who would he have guarded? Towns and Stein could play this game because they have the speed to guard smaller players and exploit their height advantage.
Hopefully, the Wolves will believe they can start a new trend with a strong down low scorer and let Towns fall to us. Otherwise it would not shock me to see Mitch trade down. Resigning Ed Davis to play center makes the most sense and surround him with fast open court players.
Would like to hear from those that advocate drafting Okafor as to how much he will actually contribute in this new NBA.
Btw — one could argue the cavs benching Mozguv was a big mistake – they are now facing elimination. Perhaps it was a panicky response on the part of LeBr … Uh Blatt because of Kerrs move the previous game. Didn’t work though.
That had been the foundation of why I said a couple threads ago I would favor Russell over Okafor. They are both highly skilled players at their positions. Traditional wisdom says you choose the big man over the little man if all things are equal. I see a lot of posters talk about style and trends and that once there is a dominant big things will change. I see things differently it is the rules which do not allow as much physical play and allow players to sit in a post players lap that have prevented post play. The rules have made it a guard’s league and as such it may be wiser to go small. Don’t look to the past, look at the present.
I also do think the best big to get in this draft is WCS. Precisely because if you put in a small ball line-up WCS is fast enough to stay in the game anyway. I also like what I have seen out of Porzingis including tape against Barcelona. His only real flaw is his strength, but at age 19 I don’t think it is a career long problem.
I really like Dragic I like his game. However, I have a lot of reservations. He a big PG with a nice shooting touch that can play SG. But he left Phx precisely because he’s not happy doing that., being a guy you might use at times as a SG while paired with another PG. This limits his flexibility.
He needs to have the ball in his hands running the offense through him to be fully effective. Kobe would probably cause him fits but okay life after Kobe? If we assume that this is a match with Okafor then conceptionally you want to run the offense through Okafor or not to run it through Dragic?
I’m a bit wary of getting Dragic under these circumstances. Dragic doesn’t look like a good fit with other ball dominant players or post types.
Blatt is getting fired after this series. I think the Cavs will make a play for Thibodeu. LeBron was unreal last night, but man, some of his misses were UGLY.
Back to Laker programming – I’d rather we keep our cash till 2016, when we can make an attempt at a double (or triple) play, like the Heat did.
-@ Kareem, good thing they don’t use that college football system you speak of in the NBA. It would severely minimize the Laker’s 16 NBA titles, especially those in the Showtime era when it was much easier to get to the finals in the West than the East.
Baylor Fan says
Thanks for the handicap of the lower prospects. These days, teams are built by making the right picks later in the draft as much as they are getting the top choice right.
This finals has been turning team building upside down. One team has a superstar and the other has 1.5. The series is being decided by the role players. The team that is best able to rest it’s superstar and defend the opposing superstar will win. The Warriors survived an absolute free throw brickfest by Igoudala suggesting that maybe lacking that skill is not as great a handicap as it seems. Overall, the parity in the NBA means a lower mountain to climb for the Lakers as they move back to respectability.
Big City, that’s a Larry bird line, that the lakers had an easier time than the poor old celtics making it to the finals in the show time era. Maybe the lakers just made it look easier :0)
Baylor — hmmm pretty small sample size as a basis to suggest Fts aren’t that important in “today’s” game.
Hey maybe it’s now a SF league — look at LBJ. Probably has nothing todo with the fact he’s a transcendent talent, all that matters is he’s a “small Forward”.
Re: whether or not Okafor would fit into today’s NBA – my hope (who knows which of these kids will reach their ceilings) is that his offense can become elite enough not to be thrown off by a “small” like Draymond Green. Okafor averaging a 65% FG% outpaces the other team shooting 40% on threes, plus the foul trouble he can inflict on whoever’s guarding him. On defense, his foot speed looks fine, maybe even good for a big. I can see him guarding the opposing bigs just fine, and if they’re stretch 4s or 5s, well that makes it even easier to guard them.
Craig W. says
I seem to remember a pretty good center on last year’s champion – oops! – Power Forward.
In an era where there are few good centers – and you always need a good team to get to the finals in the West – you can’t say that good centers are not necessary. When Bogut and Mozgof are your flagship talents, having an Oakfor is like bringing in an aircraft carrier – no we are not yet in an era of missiles in the NBA.
They had an interesting story I believe on ESPN about the effectiveness of a Curry corner 3. He shot from that spot hitting about 66.7% of his shots from that corner. With point value his effective percentage was 100% which was compared to a Lebron dunk which registered at like 98%. Sure it is an outlier but don’t discount the value of 3pt shooting. 40% 3pt shooting translates to about 60% shooting from 2pt range.
It is true that Duncan is a great post player although what is memorable about last year’s Spurs was they attacked the Heat’s scramble defense by not holding the ball for more then a second. Not much posting, the ball whizzed around the court faster then the Heat could cover until an open shot was found.
The previous 2 years where won by the Heat, again not exactly post heavy offenses. The year before by Dirk and the Mavericks, yet again not a post heavy offense. You have to go back to the 2010 Lakers to find an offense that operated heavily out of the post.
Also let me point out this doesn’t mean you don’t need great Centers anymore or big men but that the design of what a great big man looks like has changed.
Vasheed – that’s why why I said 65% on two’s beats 40% on threes. And I’m not talking about 65% shooting a la DeAndre Jordan – I’m talking about a big that can actually manufacture buckets at a 65%+ clip a la Shaq/Duncan (similar to Curry’s ability to manufacture threes). If Okafor can do that, then we’ve got a very valuable player on our hands. I’m encouraged by the fact that he maintained such a high FG% even while being double/triple teamed (vs Towns, who wasn’t counted on to lead his team’s offense).