Robert Upshaw recently signed a partially guaranteed two-year contract to join the Lakers for summer league. The odds of him fulfilling this contract by making the final roster are up to interpretation, but he has a steep climb ahead of him to beat out players the Lakers have invested more into than the undrafted free agent with the checkered past.
Upshaw, though, is seemingly looking forward to making the Lakers’ decision as difficult as possible. One way to accomplish that is by getting into the best shape possible after not looking to be in great condition for the team’s summer league team in Las Vegas. And it looks like he’s done just that.
“In Summer League I didn’t feel like myself, and I just didn’t feel as fluid as I usually feel,” Upshaw said. “When I got back to San Diego where I was training, I put an emphasis on being faster, quicker and slimmer.”
Upshaw dropped 20 pounds between Summer League and his signing with the Lakers, reshaping his body beginning with 7 a.m. cardio.
“I would run for an hour and then I would have a basketball workout and then a strength-and-conditioning workout,” he said. “And then I would get shots up at night. I stayed consistent with that for a month and a half, every day, six days a week.”
Upshaw further explained that, after being dismissed from two different universities for off-court issues, he felt the need to prove he has “moved beyond his issues” by dropping the pounds:
“The real reason I (lost weight) was because I felt like I had something to prove,” Upshaw said. “There’s been a lot of talk about the person I used to be and the person that I am. I just want to show everybody that I know who I am and who I can be as a person in this community and with this basketball team.”
All this is, of course, very nice to hear. If a player cannot be disciplined enough to get into top condition to fulfill a once in a lifetime opportunity, when can he be trusted to show that discipline?
Upshaw, to his credit, seems to understand that. He also seems to understand that nothing is guaranteed for him and that only through consistent hard work and sustained performance will he be able to stick for the Lakers.
It remains to be seen if any of these efforts actually leads to a regular season roster spot. When projecting a final roster, there are options which would include Upshaw, but there are also variables where him landing in the D-League make the most sense for the Lakers.
In saying that, however, if he plays well enough and looks to have left his past issues behind him, he will give himself a real chance to achieve what he hopes to. Losing the weight was a nice start towards that goal.