One of the more intriguing and controversial prospects heading into the draft was former Washington big man Robert Upshaw. The big man is undoubtedly talented, but also a player who went through more than his fair share of adversity by being suspended multiple times for marijuana use, ultimately being dismissed from two schools (Washington and Fresno St.).
Beyond those issues, Upshaw went through a medical “red flag” towards the tail end of the pre-draft workout process where a heart issue was discovered by doctors at the combine. This led to Upshaw suspending workouts for a period. He has since been cleared and did resume workouts before the draft.
Many thought his talent might outweigh his troubled past, but that ended up not being the case. Sixty names were called during Thursday night’s NBA draft, but Upshaw was not one of them. It seems the character questions combined with the medical flags pushed him off draft boards entirely. That, though, does not mean he will not get his chance at the NBA. The Lakers, apparently, will give him a shot on their Summer League team in Las Vegas:
Lakers reached summer league commitments with undrafted bigs, Washington's Robert Upshaw and Arizona's Brandon Ashley, source tells RealGM.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 26, 2015
Considering the Lakers drafted D’Angelo Russell instead of Jahlil Okafor in the draft and did not draft a big man with either the 27th or 34th picks, giving Upshaw an extended look in Vegas is an interesting gamble. He undoubtedly has the ability, the question will be if he can stay out of trouble and, with some maturity, can channel his talent into a productive pro career. By getting an up close look at him and having him in under their program, the Lakers will get the first chance to find out.
I wonder where cliff alexander will be playing summer league … could be someone else we target for the team …. happy to get upshaw closely in the fold though
Nik Kannan says
Confirmed – this makes me happier –
“Lakers reached summer league commitments with undrafted bigs, Washington’s Robert Upshaw and Arizona’s Brandon Ashley, source tells RealGM”.
I like Upshaw & Ashley…hmmm
I think there’s potential on this team. Next season is going to be much more exciting than the last few years. I liked that this draft addressed some weaknesses in shooting (3s, midrange, and finishing at the rim), defense (exterior and interior), and athletism. This is a good foundation to build on. Now we just need to sign a couple of affordable role players to fill in at SF and C. If Mitch can swing for the fences and hit a home run on Gasol or another serviceable FA at center then I think the turnaround on the rebuild will be shorter. Once Kobe retires, that’s another potential FA signing that could set the team up to contend in a couple of years. I believe it’s possible. I hope so.
I wished we could have gotten Kiefer Sykes for the Lakers Summer League team or even drafted him as well. He would have brought some high flying action and maybe make the team. Alas, he was signed by the Cavaliers. Funny thing about Kiefer Sykes, he shares the same birthday as Lebron James and Tiger Woods.
Craig W. says
Since I expected the Lakers to consider Upshaw with their #34, I am more than happy they will give him a chance in the Summer League. With Upshaw, Randle, Nance, Brown, Russell, and Clarkson on the team, I expect some pretty good basketball to be played. I don’t necessarily expect them to win, but I do expect to see something other than ‘scatter ball’ being played.
This is great news! Would love if we can snag Aaron Harrison too. The boy can make big shots. Also wondering if Nance makes the roster after revelations of his anti-Kobe tweet.
Craig W. says
Nance is a 1st round pick. His money is guaranteed.
Ok, this is truly a great night.
great quick work by the lakers – upshaw def worth the extended (and up close) look
Craig, is it guaranteed before he signs the contract? I believe the Lakers can waive his rights before ink is put to paper at no cost. Not suggesting it comes to that, but I’m fairly sure that’s how it works…
If Upshaw can make the team, he will really plug the defensive hole for the Lakers. This was a really great surprise announcement. The Lakers now look pretty solid before going into free agency.
Great news, this really rounds out our draft nicely. In a couple years I really see this guy being an extremely productive center in the NBA.
Hoping we can sign either DeAndre Jordan, Greg Monroe, or Aldridge in free agency now.
Also see a big hole at SF, who can play and be effective next year.
Great first step last night though
Watching Upshaw it seems he`s been getting by on size and really needs to improve on the basics,besides his conditioning and attitude. He needs to take advantage of a golden opportunity with hard work and dedication.
Diego Arguelles says
Scouting Upshaw was frustrating but his defensive potential is tantalizing. This could be an undrafted steal.
I just read Brandon Ashley is out. He will be joining the Hawks’ summer squad.
The Lakers should add Christian Wood to the summer squad as well. https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CIbKRNuWEAAZ2VW.jpg
From DraftNet: Overall: Wood is essentially your typical, talented power forward coming out of college … Lots of skill, lots of talent, lots of athleticism, and good face-up game, but still needs to develop strength, a post game, more polished rebounding fundamentals, and more of a willingness to play inside in order to thrive in the NBA … He shows a lot of promise as a face-up 4, and, unlike some talented college prospects, he has a great motor which makes him an excellent rebounder … At age 19, Wood is very young for his class and has plenty of time to develop, but he has already put up great numbers in a solid conference at the college level … He should garner a first round selection and perhaps flirt with the lottery …
I have been trying to find out the implications of a summer league deal for next season. Assuming Upshaw has a terrific summer league do the Lakers have rights to signing him to a new contract, or is he free to sign with any other team? Thanks!
Ashley signed with Atlanta.
I’d watched Upshaw’s draft video. He is a little clumsy. His shot is flat, hook has very limited range, under fifty percent free-throw. He doesn’t always run the floor. Hopefully he worked these things out.
Christian Wood signed with Houston. Upshaw looks disinterested and a little clumsy. I hope he gets his conditioning together so he can replace Sacre.