While most of the attention on the Lakers this draft season stem from them holding the #2 overall pick, the team also holds the #32 selection in the upcoming draft. With that, we will be having a series of posts on potential options for that selection. First up is UNLV big man, Stephen Zimmerman.
Center, 7’0, 235 lbs. Freshman, UNLV, 19 years old
26.3 minutes, 10.5 points, 47.7 field goal percentage, 29.4 three point percentage, 62.4 free throw percentage, 0.8 assists, 8.7 rebounds, 0.5 steals, 2.0 blocks.
Big Board Rankings:
Draft Express – 36, CBS – 31, Sports Illustrated – 30, NBA.com – 24, Bleacher Report – 27
At 7’0 with a wingspan of 7’3, Stephen Zimmerman has pretty good size to work at either power forward or center in the NBA. The first thing that stands out about Zimmerman is his two blocks per game in only 26 minutes per game, which was good for second most in the Mountain West Conference. Zimmerman isn’t the most athletic guy on the court, but he’s athletic enough to where it’s not a disadvantage.
On the other side of the ball, the freshman showed some of his range, even though he only shot 29 percent from beyond the arc (on only 17 shots). In the pick-n-pop, Zimmerman scored 1.15 PPP. He has a solid stroke and can knock shots down from midrange. He has really soft touch and has a handy left hook when he’s in the post.
In just 26 minutes a game, Zimmerman averaged 8.7 rebounds per game and grabbed over a fourth of all defensive rebounds when he was on the court (26.5 percent). Thanks to his size and 9’1 standing reach, the 19-year-old should be a solid rebounder in the league.
The biggest and most glaring weakness for Stephen Zimmerman is his strength. For someone as big as he is, he can definitely afford to add some more weight and muscle to his frame. Without the necessary strength, Zimmerman will get abused on the block in the NBA, on both sides of the ball. He will get backed down by the bigger centers in the league, and he’s going to struggle to score in the post, especially because he doesn’t have a great post game yet. He committed 4.6 fouls per game per 40 minutes, and this is probably one of the reasons why.
While Zimmerman has shown touch and an ability to hit midrange — and even a extend to the three point line — he’s a terrible free throw shooter. In his one season at UNLV, Zimmerman was just 62.4 percent from the charity stripe. His ability to score is questionable. The most he scored in a game in his short college career was 21, and he only reached 15 four times. When Zimmerman was a kid, he broke his right arm wrestling with is dad. Because of that, he can’t fully extend his right arm which causes major problems when goes to his off hand (he’s a lefty).
Where he fits in with the Lakers:
The Lakers need a guy who they can groom to play some minutes at the five. Roy Hibbert, Ryan Kelly, Robert Sacre, Brandon Bass, and Tarik Black are all free agents this summer. In other words, there is not a player currently on the roster projected to be a long term option in the pivot. And while free agency may solve that problem, players who can provide capable depth will still be needed.
Stephen Zimmerman is young, is a big body, and could potentially hit outside shots. He also has some potential on the defensive end. The goal in mind with Zimmerman is to have a big who can space the floor when Randle is also on the court, but also play interior defense. Zimmerman has shown the ability to rebound and block shots and play in the pick-n-roll on offense. He most likely wouldn’t get minutes right away due to not having a very polished post game and issues tied to his lack of strength and bulk.
I like Zimmerman’s potential, but there might be some better options for a big man at 32.