Josh McRoberts may not be the ‘big deal’ acquisition that Lakers’ fans were hoping for this off-season, but that doesn’t mean he won’t become an important part of L.A.’s rotation. In fact, over time I’d argue that he’ll end up being one of Staples Center’s most cheered players coming off the bench.
Because McBob (or is it McRob?) came essentially at the exact same moment that Lamar Odom departed, fans are going to be predisposed to make a one to one comparison of the two players, which on it’s face is wholly unfair to the newly acquired forward. However, if we take a step back and examine Josh for what he is, we see that he can be an extremely valuable player who is likely to win the hearts of the fans over the more they watch him play.
For one thing, McRoberts is an underrated passer and playmaker. He’s the kind of guy who generally is looking to make plays for other people rather than seeking out his own offense (sound familiar LO fans?) and while he is nowhere close to the ball handler and creator that Odom is, his assists per 36 minutes are actually equal to Lamar’s. He also has the ability to pull down a rebound and advance it up the floor on his own, though word is from Pacers’ fans that he occasionally gets a bit overzealous with his ball handling. Still, it’s better to have a player who is a somewhat capable ball handler than a big who becomes a stationary oak tree every time they snag a board.
Another reason that the Lakers’ new reserve is sure to attain quick popularity is that he is an efficient but low usage player. Usage rate is a metric that measures what percentage of a teams’ plays a particular player is involved in. In essence, the more often a player has his number called by a coach, the higher his usage rate will be. I can pretty much assure you that Mike Brown will never be calling plays for McRoberts, but that doesn’t mean he still won’t be making valuable offensive contributions.
Think back to someone like Trevor Ariza, who rarely had a play called for him yet was able to contribute in key situations by running the floor, making timely cuts to the basket, spotting up for jumpers and creating opportunities through offensive rebounds. McRoberts should do likewise, and by virtue, will be lauded by the Lakers faithful as a hardworking and unselfish player. Exactly the kind of player you want to complement a trio of All-Star caliber headliners.
Of course the most obvious reason that McRoberts is likely to become a fan favorite? The dude can dunk. And if you don’t believe me, check out the following top ten reel from last season where McRoberts shows off his length, decent hops and surprising athleticism. Throw it down big man! Throw it down!