With a roster full of NBA veterans, former call-ups, and potential NBA talent, the Los Angeles D-Fenders are one of the more notable teams that the NBA Developmental League has to offer from a talent pool perspective.
One of those players is Robert Upshaw, the undrafted rookie center that had a brief stint with the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2015 Summer League and NBA Preseason. Although he possesses an intriguing combination of size and fundamental back-to-the-basket style of play that makes him force on both ends of the floor, Upshaw’s off-the-court issues that had him kicked out of two college programs ultimately cost him a chance to not only be drafted, but also have an NBA team keep him on a final roster.
As Upshaw has progressed in his time in the D-League, specifically this month (scored a career-high 18 points and is averaging 56.7 percent from the field), he’s yet to prove the one thing that’s haunted him since last June.
“I want to prove that I should’ve been drafted,” Upshaw told LakersNation.com following the D-Fenders 117-107 win against the Idaho Stampede. “That’s what I want to prove. That I should’ve been drafted.”
Many presumed if he would’ve kept his head straight in college, he had potential to be a lottery pick as he was regarded as potentially one of the best centers in the 2015 NBA Draft — averaging 10.9 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.5 blocks. Due to the circumstances, his chance to gain NBA recognition is still in progress as Upshaw is modestly improving in the Developmental League game by game.
Moving forward, Upshaw has created his own plan that he believes will get him to the NBA.
“My game plan moving forward is to work hard everyday. It’s all about consistency. I’ve had a lot of workouts and I’ve added a lot of repetitions that I’ve been doing currently. I’m focused on improving and getting better with the help of the coaching staff and the Lakers organization I’ve been able to spend more time in the gym and work harder to achieve my goal.”
With the Lakers moving forward in the rebuilding process, it’ll be interesting to see if they give Upshaw another opportunity down the road, which could include another Summer League invite this off-season.