With the exception of 2005, the Lakers haven’t had much to look forward to come draft night in the last 16 years. By no means is that a bad thing, however, as although owning a low-pick has become a tradition for the Lake Show, they seem to prefer winning instead.
This summer’s draft was no different has the Lakers didn’t even have a first round pick to their name, possessing only the 43rd and 58th selections. Despite choosing low in a fairly weak draft, the Lakers managed to come out like bandits, nabbing two players with lottery talent in the latter portion of the draft.
With their first pick, the Lakers selected sophomore swingman Devin Ebanks out of West Virgina. Ebanks’ gifts as an athlete and up-tempo style of play have drawn a number of comparisons to former Laker Trevor Ariza (the two even look similar). At the start of the 2009-10 college basketball season, experts and bloggers across the nation had pegged Ebanks as a surefire lottery pick. Unfortunately for Ebanks, he displayed inconsistent play and dropped in the rankings throught the year. From August of 2009 to April of 2010, Ebanks had gone from a possible top-seven pick to a bubble first round selection.
As an overall player, Ebanks had a much more polished game than Ariza did coming out of college; which is understandable, considering Ebanks played two years of college ball while Ariza was a one and done freshman. However, similar to Ariza, Ebanks will likely spend the first few years of his NBA career riding the pine, as Ron Artest and the newly acquired Matt Barnes sit ahead of him on the team’s depth chart.
Nevertheless, injuries are not a rare commodity in sports, and if Artest or Barnes fall victim to injury, Ebanks will likely be given a chance to play. Expect him to show flashes of his full potential throughout the season as he matures as a player. The Lakers don’t need him to score a ton of points every time he steps foot on the court; for him to get minutes, all he needs to do his establish his presence on the defensive end and hit his open shots (which will be plentiful when playing with Kobe, Gasol and Bynum). If he does that, he will surely be rewarded with more playing time.
Until that day comes, he just needs to be patient and learn from the veterans, because he has the potential to develop into the Lakers starting small-forward of the future.
The Lakers other rookie, Derrick Caracter, has taken a very long and windy route to get where he is today, but he has learned from his mistakes and has ultimately grown from them as a player and as a person.
After a frustrating high school career and a troublesome two seasons at the University of Louisville, Caracter found refuge by transferring to the University of Texas-El Paso. In less than one season of play for the UTEP Miners, Caracter reestablished himself as a player and began to show glimpses of the phenom everyone expected him to be throughout high school.
Ultimately, his history and his weight kept him from reaching first round territory, but Caracter is an extremely talented prospect. Nevertheless, his size allows him to be a force on the glass and score easy buckets inside. If he develops a few posts moves, he could easily become apart of the Lakers top six or seven players in the next five years.
For right now, he is in the same boat as his fellow rookie teammate, but he is starting the season off with slightly more opportunity in his sights, as Andrew Bynum is out at least the entire month of November. Although it thins out the Lakers front line a little bit, it will work out in Caracter’s favor, because minutes at the four and five will open up, giving him the chance to establish himself apart of the Lakers’ rotation as they quest for a three-peat.
If Caracter lets his offensive game come to him, while focusing on defense and rebounding, his presence on the team will be more than just another prospect. He has the size and talent to be a great contributor in the NBA for many years.
He may never become the superstar everyone thought he was going to be when he was a six-foot-eight 13 year old who could dunk, but he has the potential to become a great role player in this league. If he continues to keep his weight down and keep his mind focused on improving each time he steps onto the hardwood, that shouldn’t be a problem at all.
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