Several weeks ago, I wrote about the strengths and weaknesses that the Lakers 2012 NBA Draft picks (Darius Johnson-Odom and Robert Sacre) came into camp with and what their chances were of getting signed by Los Angeles for the upcoming season. Weeks ago, I thought and wrote how DJO had a higher chance of the two draftees of getting signed.
Therefore, I thought it would be fitting to review DJO and Sacre’s progress thus far, now that we are a couple weeks into camp and they have each had a chance to show the fans what they can potentially bring to the team in four rather disappointing (for the team overall) pre-season games.
Robert Sacre has been the bright spot in the pre-season, other than the main starters of course, by exceeding most of the fans’ expectations. It appears that Sacre is taking full advantage of the minutes he is getting from Mike Brown, as he has started in all of the pre-season games so far for the Lakers’ new center, Dwight Howard. Sacre is averaging 7.0 points and 4.8 rebounds in 25.5 minutes per game while shooting 56 percent from the field.
To read Lakers Nation’s Arielle Moyal’s interview with Robert Sacre, click here.
Sacre has the good fortune right now of not having to compete too much with his teammates for time on the court since Howard is not ready to suit up quite yet (but may be soon) and Jordan Hill is also sidelined with a herniated disc. True centers are getting harder to find in the league and Sacre is considered to be an “old school” center. His presence may be too big for the Lakers to ignore due to the fact that if something happened to one of the team bigs, it would create many problems.
One of the weaknesses that I described in my article in August about Sacre and DJO, was that “Sacre has shown a lack of aggressiveness, hesitation and tendency to pump-fake too much around the rim.” As the pre-season has progressed, I can see that this is an issue that Sacre and the coaches are working on in training camp. He still has shown tendencies to be hesitant around the rim, but he is making adjustments to improve his aggressiveness. I think working one-on-one with Dwight Howard in camp is starting to pay off.
However, he must do this on a consistent level. Additionally, he is currently too sloppy on defense as he fouls way too much. Sacre tends to foul while the opposing player is in his shooting motion, and therefore is giving up too many free throws. Being the defensive juggernaut of the Lakers now, Dwight Howard could also work with him on this issue, which I’m sure is already taking place. Sacre definitely has work to do, but his performance thus far is on the right track.
Darius Johnson-Odom on the other hand is not seeing much playing time so far in the pre-season. Whether it has something to do with what Mike Brown is seeing in training camp, we don’t know for sure. DJO did not get any minutes in Tuesday’s game against the Utah Jazz, but I personally believe that was due to the fact that Kobe Bryant put on a show in Anaheim with 31 points, with most of his points coming in the second half. Additionally, Jodie Meeks had his best performance for the Lakers so far on Tuesday, scoring 12 points in 18 minutes.
Meeks is expected to be the outright backup for Bryant come regular season, with Devin Ebanks getting time off the bench in the two a three spot. Second-year guard Andrew Goudelock is the main competition for DJO for a rotation spot as a reserve shooting guard. What DJO has that Meeks, Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Goudelock don’t is the impressive athletic ability to defend. While Chris Duhon is the best defender of all the Laker point guards, DJO is still much more athletic than.
Therefore, DJO must showcase this every chance he gets to prove his usefulness and value for a roster spot. Mike Brown will give him an opportunity to do this, even if it is in limited minutes. Overall, DJO is averaging 3.0 points in only 5.5 minutes in the two pre-season games he has appeared in. This means that DJO must perform in such a way during training camp that will make Brown give him more minutes come game time.
In my August article, I wrote that DJO had the advantage between him and Robert Sacre of landing one of the coveted regular season roster sports come the end of October. However, two weeks into training camp and after seeing a couple of pre-seaon games, I believe Sacre now has the most advantage of all of the players not guaranteed a spot.
Since we still have about two weeks of pre-season and camp still to play out, there is time for DJO to change minds. Yet, time is running out for him to do so. The Lakers obviously saw something in DJO to pay $500,000 to the Mavericks for his drafting rights alone. Now it is in DJO’s hands to prove his value and it is in the hands of Sacre to continue to impress the Lakers and the fans.
In case you missed it: Kobe talks A-Rod, growing up in a family of “a-holes.”
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