The 2012 NBA Draft is less than a month away. For the Los Angeles Lakers, the draft will certainly provide another opportunity for them to rebuild their roster after a disappointing end to their 2011-2012 season. That is if they can put themselves in a better position than they are currently in.
In an effort to keep you all informed on some of the top talents available during the 2012 NBA Draft who could help the Lakers, I’m kicking off a series of articles covering some of the players who fit their needs and who have some chance of being drafted by the purple and gold.
With my first installment of the Lakers 2012 draft prospect profiles, I’ll be taking a look at Iona point guard Scott Machado.
Heading into the 2012 off-season, it’s unclear as to whether or not the Lakers will get starting point guard Ramon Sessions back. He has a $4.55 million player option for the 2012-2013 season, which he still hasn’t decided what to do with. If he does opt out of playing with the Lakers next season, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent. In that case, the Lakers would be left with aging veteran Steve Blake and 2011 second-round pick Darius Morris as the only true point guards on the roster. Considering that Blake could become a cap casualty and Morris probably won’t be ready to contribute on a game-to-game basis, point guard could potentially be one of the Lakers’ most glaring needs much like it was last off-season.
If that’s how the cards end up being dealt, adding a terrific point guard talent such as Machado would do wonders for the Lakers offense.
Machado is a pass-first point guard with some of the best court vision that the 2012 draft class has to offer. He sees the floor in ways that most players can’t and does a great job of setting up teammates for success. Combining outstanding awareness with exceptional peripheral vision, he displays an exceptional feel for facilitating the ball.
During his senior season at Iona, Machado led the nation in assists, averaging 9.9 per game. He’s the MAAC’s all-time leader in career assists with 880, including an impressive 327 during the 2011-2012 season. Although he’s not the flashiest of passers, his vision allows him to find the open man time and time again.
On top of his elite passing, Machado’s shooting numbers have also drastically improved since his freshman year. In 2011-2012, he posted a 49.5 field goal percentage, and nailed 40.4 percent of shots from beyond the arch. Those numbers have risen from 40.5 and 27.8 during his first season with Iona. Although some of this can be attributed to his pass-first mentality and the resulting lack of shots taken (only 9.5 attempts per game last season), the fact that he continued to improve year after year throughout his college career is impressive.
Another promising stat is Machado’s 3:1 assist-to-turnover ratio, showing that he has terrific control and decision-making from the point. He shows outstanding awareness when running the offense and does a great job of setting up teammates with his drive and dish abilities. Especially considering the Lakers’ unsettling amount of boneheaded turnovers last season, a player like Machado leading the offense would be a vast improvement.
Despite his exceptional passing and reliable shooting, Machado does have a few limitations that could force him to slip in the draft.
Even though he’s considered a pass-first point guard, Machado has a tendency to avoid taking the open shot in favor of making the tough pass. It might seem like he’s just being a good facilitator and teammate, but that can be mistaken for being a passive offensive player. His defensive skills are seven out of 10 at best, and he doesn’t have the elite athleticism to stick with some of the quicker point guards in the league. There have also been concerns about his lack of conditioning, which must improve when he enters the NBA.
Although point guard could be an area of need, what really makes Machado a great fit for the Lakers is his passing. For years now, the Lakers have been lacking a facilitator at the point who can effectively set up teammates and consistently put Kobe Bryant in position for easy baskets. If they were to land Machado, he’d immediately upgrade their passing and help create some of the spacing that their offense has been missing for the past couple of seasons.
In an ideal situation where the Lakers managed to work their way up into the late first round, there’s a good chance that Machado could still be available in the 25-30 range. There’s even a slim possibility that he could slip into the early second round, but the lack of point guard talent in the 2012 draft pool might make him too valuable to slide that far.
At this point, landing Machado seems like a bit of a stretch for the Lakers. If they do, however, move up and find themselves in position to draft the Iona product, they’d be smart not to leave him on the board.