Robert Upshaw was one of the mystery men heading into the 2015 NBA Draft, with mock drafts having him going anywhere from the mid-late first round to falling out of the draft altogether. With some question marks in his past and a heart condition that needed to be cleared for the big man out of Washington didn’t hear his name called on draft night, but it wouldn’t take long for him.
Shortly after the draft ended, GM Mitch Kupchak was able to sign Upshaw to the Lakers Summer League team. The young shot-blocking savant had his ups and downs in Las Vegas, but he showed flashes of brilliance, particularly when he was defending Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns. The Lakers were rumored to have signed Upshaw to a two-year deal following that performance, but the contract never materialized.
Fortunately, Scout.com managed to get a quick interview with Upshaw at the Seattle Pro-Am on Friday, and he was able to shed some light on his status with the Lakers. Here is a transcript:
I’ve just been working hard, my transition from college into the NBA has been a tough one, but I’m relishing all my hard work. I continue to stay focused and continue to work hard, and I have training camp with the Lakers coming up. I’m just excited, I’m excited to get out there and play basketball, and show them that I’m one of the best basketball players in the country.
There hasn’t been an agreement yet. That’s what can be if I go in and do the right things and what I need to do….I know that I’ll be a Laker. I just know. I work hard, I put nothing but 110 percent into what I’ve been doing. From before Summer League, but I had some problems with my heart, and then after, I’ve just been having an amazing year.
Reading between the lines, it sounds as though Upshaw has a good shot at making the final roster if he keeps his act together. After averaging an incredible 4.5 blocks per game for Washington, he could be a solid rim-protected behind Roy Hibbert, and is certainly a player to keep an eye on.[divide]