The Boys of Summer (League)

Last Thursday, the Lakers dropped their final summer league game, losing to the San Antonio Spurs, 80-71. Though the Lakers finished the summer league with a winless record, there was still reason to be hopeful and excited for the upcoming season. The Lakers’ second round picks – Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter – met and perhaps, exceeded expectations during the summer league but a couple other players on the roster undoubtedly put the Lakers coaching staff in a tough position to determine who will fill out the remaining roster spots for the regular season.

As of this writing, the Lakers have filled their roster with nine players. Their biggest free-agent signings came in the form of 11-time NBA champion coach Phil Jackson and five-team champion guard Derek Fisher. But if the Lakers are to have a chance at a “3-peat,” their bench will play just as much a pivotal role as their star players. Whoever the Lakers decide to sign from their summer league roster or even from the pool of free agents still available, this team will have to come together and unite as one – just as they did in the playoffs en route to their second consecutive championship.

Here is a breakdown/analysis of some of the players on the Lakers summer league roster and other players that could possibly be signed:

Devin Ebanks – 6’9”, 210-pound forward, West Virginia

SYRACUSE, NY - MARCH 27: Devin Ebanks #3 of the West Virginia Mountaineers reacts in the second half against the Kentucky Wildcats during the east regional final of the 2010 NCAA men's basketball tournament at the Carrier Dome on March 27, 2010 in Syracuse, New York. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The long, athletic forward was drafted for his defensive prowess rather than his offensive game, but in the summer league, Ebanks showed that he can knock down the outside shot too. Though inconsistent at times, Ebanks still proved to many people – including myself – that he is more than capable of producing on the offensive end, averaging 15 points and shooting almost 46% from the three-point line in five games.

Ebanks donned #3 for the summer league and drew many comparisons to another former Laker who wore the exact same jersey: Trevor Ariza. Like the former Laker who was long and athletic, Ebanks bears those same characteristics as well. And at this stage in both their careers, both were more known for their defensive abilities than their offensive skills. But hey, we all saw how Ariza developed a more consistent outside shot throughout the years.

To think that Ebanks can’t do the same isn’t a far-fetched idea. Ebanks showed promise throughout the summer league and I’d be very much surprised if he didn’t make the opening day roster.

Derrick Caracter – 6’9”, 275-pound forward/center, UTEP

During the summer league, Caracter showed off an array of offensive skills – he outmuscled smaller opponents and at times, used his quickness to get around bigger defenders. Though he looked more comfortable playing with his back to the basket, he also showed that he could step out and knock down the jump shot as well. Caracter averaged about 15 points and nine rebounds during the summer league, and his offensive potential is certainly there.

But if there is anything to point out about Caracter’s play, it was the five turnovers and seven fouls per contest that jumped out at me. He definitely has the talent to succeed at the next level, but it’s how hard he wants to work on the defensive end. Though I only watched a couple summer league games, I feel he could improve defensively – if he does, he could be a very solid player in this league.

Because the Lakers did not re-sign Josh Powell or D.J. Mbenga, the Lakers have a shortage of big bodies off the bench. I think Caracter is almost a certain lock to make the squad and like Ebanks, I’d be very much surprised if he did not make the opening day roster.

Next: D.J. Strawberry and Gerald Green…

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