Keith Benson – C – Oakland – Senior: Standing 6-feet-11-inches with a 7-foot-3.75-inch wing span, it’s no surprise that Oakland’s Keith Benson was the NCAA’s second leading shot-blocker in 2010-11 (3.6 BPG). Although he weighed in at a very thin 217 pounds, Benson has the size and athleticism to prosper as a big man at the NBA level if he can put on at least 20-30 pounds. Given his rebounding and defensive talents, Benson, who averaged a double double (17.9 PPG & 10.1 RPG) in his final season at Oakland, could fill a big need for the Lakers, who will be looking to pick up a backup center this offseason. He may not be as polished or experienced as other free agent big men, but seeing as the Lakers are tied up in quite a bit of salary, it might be easier for the Lakers to maximize their additions by finding players such as Benson in the draft. His athleticism will allow him to play both the power forward and center positions, making him a very versatile player — something that bodes well for potential Lakers big men. While questions about his motor and willingness to put on weight have been raised, it’s tough to overlook his size and athletic gifts. Barring a big jump in his draft stock over the next week or two, he’ll likely be on the board for the Lakers first two picks of the second round, and if they are looking to go big, Benson could be a very nice option for their front-court rotation.
Greg Smith – C/PF – Fresno State – Sophomore: While Greg Smith’s height (6-feet-10-inches in shoes) may be better suited for a power forward role, there are a few aspects of his physique that could make him a very nice center prospect for the Lakers. First of all, his hands are an ENORMOUS 12 inches wide — which is the largest hand measurement in the draft combine’s history — and he has very long arms, recording a 7-foot-3-inch wingspan as well. So although he may be considered small for the center position, he makes up for it in other areas. He also weighed in at 251 pounds, a weight that will allow him to bang inside and crash the boards with the best of them. His statistics (11.7 points and 8.1 rebounds per game) don’t jump off the table at you, however, he’s only 20 years old, which means he has a lot of room to grow and progress if given the right coaching. He recorded an impressive 35.5-inch vertical leap, which considering his size and weight, is pretty impressive. There’s no questioning his physical gifts, however, his offensive game has been talked of has pretty raw, as he doesn’t have too much polish in his post game. Nevertheless, as we saw with Andrew Bynum, if he’s willing to put in the right amount of work, that is a very correctable aspect of one’s game. He’ll likely be available for all of the Lakers’ second round picks, and NBADraft.net has him going to the Lakers at No. 58.