^ Do you really classify him as an athletic weakness? I haven't seen much from him, but his leaping ability seems up to par to me. Maybe not his speed and quickness yet, but personally I feel like that will come with continued age and training, strength and core-strength workouts, what have you.
His athleticism isn't really a weakness--don't forget, Trevor Ariza also had a 32 inch vert--but it's more of a case like "the length accentuates the athleticism." Both Ariza and Ebanks are very long and lanky and have thrown down impressive dunks because of that. I do think question Ebanks' lateral quickness though. We'll see in summer league, and if he impresses I'll update the profile.
I see. That makes a lot of sense to me, and I agree about his lateral quickness. Since yesterday I've been tracking down footage of this kid online everywhere I can and that is certainly an area he'll have trouble in.
My hope is that with more strength training and development, he'll be able to gain some of the quickness that Ariza exhibits and will be more able to play at the level the NBA is at.
Derrick Caracter Position: PF Height: 6-10 Weight: 280 Age: 22 Contract: $473,604 ('10-'11); $788,000 ('11-'12) (Team Option) Nickname: N/A Years with Team: 0 (as of yet) Years with League: 0 Previous Teams: N/A Acquired: 2010 Draft Round 2 (#58) Strengths: Inside-outside offensive game, Excellent mid-range game, Effective low post scoring game, Offensive rebounding/overall rebounding instincts, Scoring instincts, Strong Weaknesses: Attitude/off-the-court issues, Conditioning/weight problems, Extremely foul prone, Poor athlete (vertical/quickness/speed), Projected to be poor defender at next level, Turnover prone/limited passing ability, Subpar defensive rebounder
Offense: Caracter’s a prototypical inside-outside big man, taking more than a fair share of mid-range jumpers for a big man but also showcasing a post game, with the number of inside shots he takes. He’s an excellent shooter from mid-range, especially for a big man, although one wonders why he shoots in the low-60s from the free throw line for his college career. He also showcases an efficient, highly effective post game, as only six other NCAA players took more shots from the post and made a higher percentage last year. However, this part of his game has flaws: he tends to be a black hole, is highly turnover prone with 3-second violations, offensive fouls, etc., gets his shot blocked inside at a relatively frequent clip, as he takes a long time to gather himself before making his move, particularly against taller/longer players, and only gets to the line at an average rate. Caracter is also an excellent offensive rebounder for a PF with natural rebounding instincts and a nose for the ball, and while his reach is prototypical for a PF, his length (7-foot wingspan) and strength (one of the strongest PFs of the draft) benefits him here; however, he’s not an athlete, because with a below average vertical and quickness, he accrues very few dunks and tip-ins. With a poor sprint speed, he’s also not a threat to run out in transition, especially given his weight and conditioning problems (13% body fat). However, he had reasonable offensive impact for UTEP this past year, and has above average scoring instincts for the next level, with three viable offensive tools (post game, mid-range shot, offensive rebound-scoring) that he can potentially bring to the forefront in the NBA. This is where he could make his money in the NBA.
Defense: Caracter’s defensive impact is surprisingly above average, although he’s merely average at intercepting passes and blocking shots. However, a major reason (beside the other problems listed below) that he has not been able to gain traction (he’s only played 27 mpg, at most, in college) is that he’s an absolute hack, with an incredibly high foul rate, and this could ultimately impede him in the NBA as well. With his massive conditioning problems, lack of lateral quickness/speed and subpar vertical, he lacks the physical tools and the work ethic to defend opposing PFs effectively, and thus has to resort to fouling: while his defensive impact suggests that he has some potential, he was playing against poor competition, and it’s highly likely he’ll be a poor defender at the next level, especially with more stretch-4’s in the league. He’s also a relatively subpar defensive rebounder, so he might be searching for offensive rebounds for scoring opportunities, although he’s a good overall rebounder.
Intangibles: Caracter’s faced a slew of off-the-court issues during his time at Louisville before he transferred to UTEP, and that largely slid his stock all the way down the bottom of the second round. He also has attitude problems and can be an issue in the locker room. Moreover, he suffers from weight problems, and his lack of conditioning also illustrates his lack of work ethic. His gameface is largely the same way: he searches out for his own offense, but is not completely a team player—he doesn’t pass the ball well at all and he’s a poor defensive rebounder despite getting tons of offensive rebounds. His intangibles—attitude and work ethic—are the most problematic part of his basketball profile.
Future: Caracter will be given a chance to make the Lakers’ training camp, much less the team, through summer league play. He’s highly skilled offensively and has rebounding skills that make his potential upside similar to that of Zach Randolph, but has tons of issues on the mental side (attitude, work ethic) and defensively (foul prone, lack of physical tools) that can generate flameout potential as well. At the 58th pick, the Lakers have nothing to lose and can easily cut Caracter if he doesn’t perform up to their par, but if he improves is conditioning and work ethic and plays up to his potential it’s not easy to see how he could replace someone like Josh Powell on the Lakers roster. He’s more talented than most 58th picks, but it’s ultimately up to Caracter to control his destiny here.
Projection: If Caracter even makes the team, as he’s playing behind Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom for a championship-caliber team, don’t expect him to get many minutes, if at all, unless in garbage-time. He might spend most of his time in the IR or in the D-League to get some seasoning.
Javaris Crittenton Position: PG/ SG Height: 6-5 Weight: 200 Age: 22 Contract: TBA (if he makes team) Nickname: J-Critt Years with Team: 1 Years with League: 2 Previous Teams: Memphis, Washington Acquired: 2007 Draft Round 1 (#19) ~ 1st time; Free Agent ’10 ~ 2nd time Strengths: Ability to continually slash to the basket and finish, Ballhandling/shiftiness/leaping ability/slashing instincts, Improving passing ability/height for PG position, Ability to get to the free throw line, Offensive rebounding, Conforming to role-player game Weaknesses: Poor jumper/range, Excessively turnover prone/overaggressive off dribble, Some questions about character, Poor free throw shooter, Poor wingspan/average lateral quickness/speed, Below average at making defensive plays
Offense: Crittenton’s best asset offensively is his ability to get to the basket and finish: he takes nearly half of his shots around the basket, far more than the norms of ordinary PGs or SGs. Moreover, Crittenton gets to the basket very well on his own accord: he’s not quite like most PGs here, but he’s better than most SGs in his ability to get to the basket, and this is made even more impressive because defenders often play a step off him daring him to take a jumper. Finally, he’s proven to be an excellent finisher around the basket, despite all those attempts, and gets to the line quite well for a combo guard: however, while he’s a very good leaper, he isn’t laterally or straight-line quick for either position, so he doesn’t dunk often and very much prefers the layup to the dunk. Crittenton’s ability to get to the basket is innate: he dribbles the ball on a string and relies more on shiftiness, misdirection and first step rather than speed in getting to the basket, and once there he’s a highly daring player: despite lacking in some tools (he has a short wingspan and only has an average standing reach relative to PGs/SGs, and only average strength) he gets ton of and-1 type plays, but also gets his shot blocked quite a bit, but as stated, his instincts are so great he still finishes and gets to the basket extremely well. So while he isn’t a total “athlete”, his combination of instincts and ballhandling more than make up for it, and this part of his game is very good already for the NBA level. He’s also a very good offensive rebounder and can get easy baskets this way as well. Crittenton also likes to resort to floaters in the event that he can’t get fully to the basket, and does this far more than the average guard as well: however, this part of his game is rather poor, and it’s a much better proposition for defenses to force him to shoot 10 foot jumpers/floaters than shots around the basket. In terms of passing ability, Crittenton can act as a combo guard for small spurts, but in reality he’s more of a Jason Terry-esque passer: a SG with good passing skills rather than a pure combo. However, there’s potential: he’s more adept than most guards at generating easy buckets for others around the basket, and he’s also more adept at driving and kicking to three point shooters. But another downside is that he’s insanely turnover prone, splitting his share between ballhandling turnovers and bad passes, both by acting too overaggressive off the dribble. Crittenton also takes a reasonable share of shots from mid-range off the dribble, but he’s woefully underwhelming in this area and defenders, as mentioned, play off him for the shot to goad him to shoot it; his free throw percentage, which is in the mid-60s, doesn’t show much potential that he can improve his shot either. As a poor shooter already, Crittenton takes extremely few three pointers for a PG and not surprisingly doesn’t shoot them well. Despite the lack of a viable jumper, Crittenton actually has a slightly positive offensive impact, largely because, even without the jumper, he’s nifty and talented enough to attack the basket and finish well to generate points. However, he’s lacking efficiency because of he rarely takes threes and shoots poorly from mid-range, and moreover is turnover prone, so while special in his slashing with the added dimension of some passing, overall he’s not a reliable offensive player.
Defense: Crittenton’s defense is an all-around mixed bag, but with the right team around him, he shows the potential to be a solid to good defender. He played good team defense at Memphis, but with Washington was in the negative, and likewise his position defense was decent at Memphis and rather poor at Washington. Crittenton has guarded both PGs and SGs before, but given his average lateral quickness, overall speed and poor wingspan, seems to fare better at SGs; he does a good job, however, of holding down the rebound rates of his matchups. In terms of defensive plays, he’s below average: he doesn’t give up his body to draw charges, appears to be a below average stealer (with his lack of wingspan), and doesn’t block shots despite his height. In terms of defensive rebounding, he’s average for a SG but very good for a PG. He lacks the tools to be a stopper, but he can be a solid one if he puts in the work.
Intangibles: Generally quiet player who let his game do the talking during his first stint with the Lakers, but appeared to be a willing learner that Kobe Bryant took under his wing. He also was a fan favorite with his ability to take players off the dribble and score around the basket, and had good rapport/chemistry with players like Andrew Bynum, who he threw lobs to. However, he faced several point guard crunches in Memphis (Conley, Lowry) and in Washington (Boykins, Foye, Arenas, Livingston) and while he got rotation playing time in between, he never appears to have developed much in terms of game after leaving the Lakers (his lack of jumper and turnover proneness still remains), so while some of that can be based on team construct, a part of the blame can also be allocated to him. He was involved in the scuffle with Gilbert Arenas in which both reportedly drew guns on each other, and he was suspended the rest of the season, leading to his return with the Lakers; thus, there’s some question about his character as well. However, he has been quiet, willing to learn, and appears to be the type to be affected by his surroundings, so with the Lakers and their championship aura he’s in as good a place as any to resurrect his game.
Future: While Crittenton has usually been a high-usage slashing type player, his last year in Washington he changed his game up to situate himself as a role player—he used far fewer possessions and became a decent passer as a point guard (as opposed to SG with good passing skills as mentioned above). While he still possesses a poor jumper and is highly turnover prone, he’s making inroads as a role playing slasher/passer as opposed to high octane slasher, which makes him more ideal as potentially the Lakers second or third string point guard next year, if he makes the team. Given Jordan Farmar’s likely departure and Derek Fisher’s aging/decrease in playing time if he returns, there’s a real opening for the Laker point guard spot, so it’s likely if Crittenton plays as he did with Memphis and Washington, he will make the team, especially given the Lakers' need for a player who can create off the dribble. While he’s still extremely young, however, there hasn’t been much major development in the key parts of his game (shooting, controlling turnovers) and his defensive upside isn’t great, so while he possesses excellent slashing ability his upside is probably more in line of top bench player rather than starter.
Projection: If Crittenton makes the team, it’s an open question how many minutes he can get—given that he knows the Lakers’ triangle assuming they stick with it (playing it with Georgia Tech and the Lakers), as well as the Lakers’ possible huge opening at the position, he can get possibly 18 minutes or more a game if the Lakers make another minor signing at the guard position. If it’s a major guard signing, he’d probably get more in line with 8-15 minutes a game.
Steve Blake Position: PG Height: 6-3 Weight: 172 Age: 31 Contract: $4,000,000 (’11-’12); $4,000,000 (’12-’13); $4,000,000 (’13-’14) Nickname: N/A Years with Team: 1 Years with League: 8 Previous Teams: Washington, Portland, Milwaukee, Denver, LA Clippers Acquired: Free Agent ‘10
Strengths: Recognizes role player aspect, Limits turnovers, Good height, Good team defender Weaknesses: Can be very passive on the court, Unimposing athletically/doesn’t impact the game using athleticism (speed/leaping ability), Becoming more of a streaky shooter, Makes few defensive plays, Very poor rebounder
Ah, Mike D'Antoni. Only in this offense can Steve Blake put up his best Steve Nash impressions in passing. But even then, Steve Nash, first year Lakers version. Blake is absolutely scorching in the key D'Antoni Nash-like categories--he's hitting 46% from deep while, as usual, taking over half his attempts from three, and his assist rate of 33.9 currently blows all of his previous assist marks out of the water. He's still an incredibly low usage point guard as he has always been, and maintains a very poor scoring rate in line with what he has done with his career, but he has become even more unselfish, using most of his attempts to probe the paint to pass. There is a certain irony to this--the Lakers used Blake as a two-guard next to Nash prior to the latter's injury, and while he shot well, he was playing far worse on offense and defense. Then, when Nash went down, Blake started putting the Nash-type stats.
Give credit to Blake for showing a new-found passing confidence previously not seen with the Lakers: he has clearly picked up a lot from Steve Nash, and aggressively probes the paint and maintains his dribble very well while searching for openings to get assists. He has incorporated go-ahead push passes in transition, lob seeking passes to the Lakers' athletes, bounce passes off pick and rolls, and generally just has a nose for finding the open man this season. Aggressive passing. While Blake scores as a last resort, he has been sizzling from straight-away and wing threes this season to keep defenses somewhat honest, and also has finished far better against unsuspecting defenders who believe he is passing all the time. His awful two-point percentage stems from the fact that his pull-up mid-range jumper has been awful all season, but if that's the tradeoff for a sizzling three point shot, it's worth it. Still, he doesn't penetrate or draw fouls, so really, it is absolutely wise to play Blake as a passer.
The problem is, in terms of offensive team effect, Blake's passing is more on the Rajon Rondo-scale of things rather than the Nash-scale of things. The Lakers are barely in the top twenty in offensive efficiency as of this writing, and the Lakers are extremely awful on offense with Blake on the floor. Teams have adapted and sat on Blake as a pass-first machismo, and because a large chunk of the Laker offense is ran through Blake, this has subsequently hampered their production. Blake just does not demand respect for his personal offense anywhere inside the three point line, so at this stage he's just putting up inflated numbers which while it shows improved passing quirks, just does not affect the bottom line.
Defensively, Blake was awful this season when paired up against shooting guards, and his team defense is also poor but he's decent against opposing points. There was a period where he was playing next to Nash where he absolutely got scorched by opposing two-guards who scored at will against him, suggesting he should never play that position again on offense or defense. He does do a better job at containing the efficiency of opposing starting point guards, even slightly outplaying them as of now. He's smart, resourceful, competitive, moves his feet, never fouls, and leverages his height well as always, but as usual he's always lacking in defensive playmaking due to sheer lack of athleticism, and is just an OK rebounder. He's always been a bit of an average defender in the league, and against PGs, that's the read on him this season again.
So Blake has made improvements in his passing game and the up-tempo style has really brought up the three point shooting, and as usual, is a decent defender when matched up properly. The problem has always been with the structure: running the offense through Blake just really seems to hamper the overall offense, even if it might be a bit hard to detect, and this is a D'Antoni schtick; also, D'Antoni's use of Blake to match up against shooting guards was a foolish move. So, one wonders if Blake's net impact is just far greater when he's in a reserve role, even if it's commendable that he can elevate his personal game somewhat. Still, at the end, the bottom line is what matters.
Defensively, Blake is average with the Lakers, and more or less average within the context of the league. He doesn't have any real cold spots, but has shown an aptitude this season for defending shots at the rim this season. Blake also carries an average defensive rebounding rate and in terms of defensive playmaking, has found a major niche in drawing charges (4th out of 72 PGs) which gives him a cut above defensive playmaking rate to offset the lack of steals. Overall, Blake is average in defense, defensive playmaking, and rebounding, and just average on this end overall.
Offensively, Blake is pretty much invisible (69th out of 72 PGs in usage rate), and even then, thinks invisible first, pass second, as he's 7th out of 72 PGs in assist rate, despite being a poor ballhandler. He operates largely as a spot-up PG, and pretty much plays the Chris Duhon offensively: he's 4th out of 72 PGs in threes attempted, as 60% of his shots come from long range. Blake will rarely take mid-range J's (44th out of 72 PGs) and pretty much never attempts a shot from within 15 feet. While Duhon is slightly more of a passer, Blake is the better long range shooter, ranking 5th among 72 PGs in percentage, significantly better than Duhon's rate.
Blake isn't much better than Duhon overall (just slightly better defense and far better three point shooting), and the overall template is that he's usually just an invisible three point shooter and an average defender, and since the three point shooter is often masked by the invisibility, there aren't many strengths to work with. Still, he rebounds and draws charges far better than Duhon, traits that have apparently endeared him to Mike D'Antoni. Nonetheless, he doesn't seem like he'll last that long in the league from this point onwards.
Blake will always be a backup PG because he has a fair share of ingrained weaknesses—he’s not an efficient scorer, he’s a horrible rebounder, he can’t finish at the rim, and he can’t draw fouls. So far he’s only proving himself to be a good mid-range shooter, and side elements such as drawing charges and limiting turnovers. That’s material that isn’t even good enough for the league, which is why his PER is so horrific—you can get that production on a PG from a 10-day contract. But that’s all he’s really proven to be good at, and of greater concern is his declining three point shooting and assist rate numbers, both of which are elements that make up a good traditional PG.
As the other head of the two-headed PG monster that is absolutely torching the Lakers, Blake sports a remarkable inability to hit catch-and-shoot threes. Considering that they comprise most of his shots, he needs to get that three point shot up to snuff, just to maintain some semblance of a backup PG. Given his resume of shooting ability, it should theoretically be correctable. The bigger question is the value: even if he’s hitting 45% of three pointers I would question his offensive value, since a good shooting PG is still commonplace in the league. Not surprisingly, he’s hurting the Lakers offensively every time he’s on the court.
That brings us to the other side of the coin: the passing. Blake has always been an overrated low usage type passer, but he’s reaching new lows here. His assist rate is absolutely horrific for such a low-usage rate PG. Among PGs, only Shaun Livingston has a similar correlation of low usage-similar assist rate, but he makes up for that elsewhere, notably defensively, and he’s 6’7” and can spot at SG. This shows that even with the rare possessions he uses, Blake isn’t able to create plays for others at all—I’d even question whether he’s a PG anymore. To his credit, he limits turnovers, but even that can be construed as a weakness—his inability to take risks and make plays off the dribble renders him passive a lot.
Blake is severely limited athletically, and that shows defensively, where he has zero blocks for the season despite standing 6’3” and has a subpar steal rate. He’s taking a page out of Fisher’s playbook, however, and is starting to draw charges now. Blake also does a solid job on man-to-man defense against backup PGs, holding down their shooting rates, although with his lack of offense he struggles to play them to a draw. His team defense for the Lakers this year has been excellent.
Blake has become a typical Mike Brown player: someone who maximizes themselves defensively, but has become horrendously awful offensively. Think an unathletic version of Keyon Dooling. The thing is, the excellent defense might be a fluke, as he’s been only solid throughout his career. The reality is, Blake’s career might be treading downwards, as even if he improves his three point shot, he has so many other ingrained weaknesses that he can be a net loss, like he currently is with the Lakers.
Matt Barnes - "I respect all my opponents but I fear no one."
Deron Williams - “I hate ’em, you know,” he said the other day. “I hate the Lakers. They’re so good. I hate them because they win all the time. They’re a tough team. … We definitely talk about it. It’s not a secret. We hate the Lakers.”
Matt Barnes Position: SF Height: 6-7 Weight: 226 Age: 30 Contract: $1,765,000 (’10-’11); $1,900,000 (’11-’12) (Player Option) Nickname: N/A Years with Team: 0 (as of yet) Years with League: 7 Previous Teams: L.A. Clippers, Sacramento, New York, Philadelphia, Golden State, Phoenix, Orlando Acquired: Free Agent ‘10 Strengths: Enforcer-type reputation defensively, Versatile offensive game, Elite overall rebounder/hustling ability, Man-to-man defense against SFs, Finishing ability through off-ball plays/inside touch, Passing ability/court vision/very unselfish, Athleticism (vertical/lateral quickness), Durable/work ethic, Desire to launch catch-and-shoot threes Weaknesses: Subpar spot-up three point shooter, Turnover prone/forces bad passes, Gets a variety of fouls/overdoes toughness at times (regular/technical/flagrant/ejections), Underutilized mid-range game
Offense: Barnes is a relatively low-usage offensive player with definite versatility to his offensive game, acting as a team player as most of his shots are assisted far more than the average SF, and he also has better passing ability than the usual SF as well. Barnes’s offensive game consists of off-the-ball inside finishing and catch-and-shoot three pointers: Barnes routinely takes 40-50% of his shots from three point land (even with Orlando, and after playing with run-and-gun Phoenix and GS) but over time he’s started to erode away his mid-range shots in favor of finishing further inside the basket (as he did in Orlando). Barnes is also better living more as an inside finisher as well: he’s a decent to competent finisher and accrues his points here through off-ball cuts, transition game (as seen from the run-and-gun days of Phoenix and Golden State) and very good offensive rebounding. He’ll occasionally dunk the ball as well, but he’s not prolific in this area as he lacks a quick burst of elevation despite the vertical. Moreover, he complements his offensive rebounding with very nice touch from 5-10 feet, and can even catch and shoot and finish off passes from there. He’s merely average at getting to the line when he’s tuned in as an inside finisher, and below average when he’s mostly a jumpshooter: this is a natural byproduct of being a player who plays off of others than makes things happen off his own accord. Barnes rarely utilizes a mid-range game, if at all, but appears to be an OK shooter from there off mostly catch-and-shoot situations: this substantiates the fact that he’s just an OK free throw shooter, having shot 73-74% from there the past couple of years. While Barnes creates this perception of a three point shooter because of the sheer volume of threes he takes, he’s a below average three point shooter, made even moreso because he takes nearly all of them catch-and-shoot situations: he’ll certainly miss a few wide open ones every game. Between the OK mid-range shooting, free throw shooting and below average three point shooting, it’s clear that he’s not a natural shooter, and while he’s certainly not maximizing his efficiency as a jumpshooter, he’s serviceable enough as a long-range shooter to complement his finishing ability. Elsewhere, Barnes is highly unselfish, with definite court vision: during his time with the run-and-gun teams, he even passed the ball better than most shooting guards. However, he’s quite turnover prone as well, in particular forcing bad passes by seeing things that aren’t there. In summary, Barnes carries a three-pronged attack offensively: finishing around the basket, shooting threes, and passing the ball well, although each carries its own weaknesses: he doesn’t get to the line well, he doesn’t shoot threes particularly well, and he’s turnover prone; splitting the difference, he’s well-equipped to be a good, versatile roleplayer offensively.
Defense: Defense is one of Barnes’s better assets for the NBA: while the perception is that he’s a decent athlete, even this sort of undersells his true athletic ability: Barnes possesses a near 41” vertical and has very good lateral quickness for a small forward, and combined with his extreme toughness and tenacity this has made him one of the more irritating pests on the defensive side of the court. He’s not a freak athlete of course, as he’s rather mediocre in top end speed and strength, and he doesn’t possess much length at all, but he maximizes his two elite measurements on the defensive end of the court. Barnes is more foul prone than the average SF, but he’s not afraid to dish out hard fouls to send a message or to control the tempo of the game; considering he’s largely been a secondary player who hasn’t averaged more than 30 minutes per game, foul trouble isn’t necessarily a problem for him, so dishing hard fouls may actually be to his benefit as it has given him an enforcer-type reputation. He’s also very prone to a bevy of other fouls to assert his will on the game, such as technical fouls, flagrant fouls and ejections: he’s accumulated 27 technical fouls over the past three seasons, had five flagrants three seasons ago with GS and had 2 ejections two seasons ago with Phoenix. Also further affirming this toughness is Barnes’s rebounding ability: Barnes is an excellent rebounder at every sense of the word, and had the second best rebounding rate among SFs last season with Orlando, and has historically rebounded at the elite level on both ends of the court, with his athleticism and toughness being the primary pluses here. In terms of making defensive plays, Barnes has made a bigger impact as a stealer and shotblocker in past years but with increasing age he has become rather subdued in these areas: he’s now slightly below average in making defensive plays, but a nice wrinkle with Orlando last year is that he’s taken more to drawing charges. Where Barnes excels most defensively is as a man-to-man defender against SFs: in a structured system such as Orlando, Barnes played very good man-to-man defense against SFs, in particular holding down their field goal percentages and rebounding, and historically he’s always done well against SFs. While he’s versatile enough to cover PFs as a smallball-4, as he did in run-and-gun teams Phoenix and GS, if utilized in this role he’s historically been torched by them, as he’s lacking in length, strength and height to even defend that role aptly. His team defense is a bit of a question mark—he was ineffectual at this while playing for the run-and-gun teams, but he was better here with a structured system in Orlando, although he does have trouble playing the pick and roll, as he often runs into the picks rather than fights through them. Overall, Barnes is a very effective defender, a hound on man-to-man D against opposing SFs due to his athleticism and lateral quickness, but he struggles against PF matchups; however, with his slew of various fouls, hustling and elite rebounding ability he plays his defensive enforcer role well.
Intangibles: Barnes exudes toughness on the court—between his rebounding and defensive tenacity/fouls, he also sports a ton of tattoos and isn’t afraid of confrontations or tough-guy moves—he even tried ball-faked Kobe Bryant in an inbounds pass, for example, and he had aspirations of being an NFL wide receiver if the NBA didn’t work out. While his toughness may cross the line and create a “dirty” play, and while his slew of technicals and flagrant fouls could have been easily avoided, that is part of what defines him as a player and makes him so effective at the same time. He’s also a highly unselfish player, between his relatively low usage rate and good passing ability for a SF, and makes hustle plays particularly by securing possessions on the glass, knowing his role as a consummate role player for the team. His work ethic is to be commended, as he’s drastically improved his long-range shooting and passing ability over the course of his NBA career, which is why it’s surprising that he’s been an NBA journeyman taking that and all his talents into account. He’s also a very durable player, only having missed 21 games over the past four seasons. For a player with some notoriety on the court, he doesn’t get into trouble off the court, a bonus that cannot be understated.
Future: Barnes’s play in Orlando is an indication that he makes his biggest impact in a structured system where he plays more against SFs defensively, even though he’s capable of playing at different speeds offensively; Barnes had a very solid starter-like impact with Orlando overall last season, and because of that it’s surprising how Orlando did very little to keep him. The Lakers also play a more half-court, inside/outside system predicated on ball movement much like Orlando’s, and with Barnes most likely seeing his time guarding SFs, it’s highly likely he can have a very good impact with the Lakers off the bench. He has a multitude of talents that he brings to the table as a role player, including finishing, rebounding, passing, small forward defense, and he’s very willing to launch the three pointer, not to mention that the intangibles such as his enforcer mentality and hustling ability can help the team. Frankly, there’s not much more a role player can do besides what Barnes already does, and while parts of his game are predicated his athleticism he brings a lot to the table to the point where his game should age quite well. His passing ability, off-ball finishing and defense /enforcing will fit the Lakers like a glove, but his rebounding may suffer and his jumper may not be respectable enough to take advantage of punishing defenses. He’s not unlike a former Laker Rick Fox at this stage in his career as well, between the enforcing role that he brings as well as the shades of shooting and passing ability. One thing is for certain: the Lakers got a steal by nabbing him for such few years and such little money.
Projection: With Luke Walton potentially being out for the season, as Mitch Kupchak has stated, Barnes should most of his playing time behind Ron Artest. Barnes is highly capable of playing minutes in the mid-20s (and arguably more, given his impact last year), so while Artest has seen minutes in the mid-30s as of late, that could be reduced even further especially if Barnes plays well. Barnes likely won’t see many minutes at PF, given his history there and with the Lakers’ depth at that position, but it’s conceivable to see him averaging 16-20 minutes a game, as he reduces Ron’s minutes and may play some bit minutes at PF. If the Lakers unfortunately have an injury in the frontcourt, Barnes is well equipped to be an effective starter for them.
Theo Ratliff Position: C Height: 6-10 Weight: 235 Age: 37 Contract: $1,352,181 (’10-’11) Nickname: N/A Years with Team: 0 (as of yet) Years with League: 15 Previous Teams: Detroit, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Portland, Boston, Minnesota, San Antonio, Charlotte Acquired: Free Agent ‘10 Strengths: Excellent shotblocking ability, Dunks frequently, Veteran presence Weaknesses: Unrefined/raw offensive game, Has become a poor defender, Poor defensive/overall rebounder, Turnover prone/lacks ball skills, Passive offensively, Foul prone
Offense: Ratliff is a low-usage center and has been a poor scorer for the position over the course of the past ten years, and he has never been anything more than an average scorer for his career. He doesn’t launch too many long-2’s, not surprising since he doesn’t show much ability to hit from there, but he takes more than a few spot-up jumpers from 10-15 feet, where he’s also below average; however, he’s an average free throw shooter career-wise and shot his free throws well during last year’s stint with Charlotte, so he may have a better jumper than given credit for. Ratliff’s game mostly operates 10 feet in, taking over 70% of his shots from there. He ranges from subpar to decent finishing ability around the rim, and in Charlotte he tended to dunk almost all of his shots around the basket area, with a few tip-ins, indicating that he lacks a low post game and an ability to really score off his own devices. He can shoot quite well 10 feet in off shovel passes, although his percentages lower when he has to shoot on his own accord. He’s a slightly subpar to average offensive rebounder and gets to the line better than most centers by virtue of playing inside more as well, but in addition to his lack of overall polished offense he also lacks ball skills, as he’s relatively turnover prone and gets them through offensive fouls, bad passes and ballhandling problems. Ratliff also appears to be a subpar passer for a center. Between the lack of ball skills, turnover proneness and lack of any semblance of offensive touch/jumper, Ratliff isn’t useful offensively at this stage of his career aside from dunking off passes, getting tip-ins and occasionally getting to the line.
Defense: Both Ratliff’s individual and team defense have fallen off a cliff in recent years; he only guards centers, and while he still makes a ton of defensive plays by virtue of his length and reflexive instincts, they are starting to become more and more meaningless defensive plays. Ratliff is still an excellent/elite level shotblocker, as he has been throughout his career, although his rate of blocks dropped a bit during his stint in Charlotte. Moreover, Ratliff struggles to control the defensive glass, and has also been a poor overall rebounder for a center throughout his career. In the past, he was such an extraordinary shotblocker and a very good man-to-man and team defender to make up for the rebounding shortcomings, but now with the evaporation of the latter two he’s simply not that effective. He’s also quite foul prone as well, although he controlled his fouls extremely well with Charlotte.
Intangibles: Ratliff is one of the more humble and soft-spoken players in the league, and has been a great locker room presence everywhere he has gone. He has rarely drawn technical fouls and has had only one ejection throughout his fifteen year career, and as he has started to play fewer minutes he’s counted one as a veteran presence to impart knowledge to younger players.
Future: Ratliff, at age 37, will most likely have a one-year stint with the Lakers before most likely retiring, and he will replace DJ Mbenga as the third string center, behind Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol (who has spot minutes there). He’s not unlike Mbenga actually in terms of his overall skill level now, with the serious lack of offensive refinement, poor rebounding and the numbers-but-little-impact defense; however, being an older player, he won’t gripe about minutes and will be counted upon this season to impart useful advice to the younger players, such as Andrew Bynum.
Projection: Ratliff is expected to most likely spend some time at the IR if the Lakers want to devote more playing time to their younger rookies Devin Ebanks and/or Derrick Caracter, and if he plays it will most likely be below 10 minutes per game each time. He’ll most likely be in street clothes the majority of the time and won’t suit up for most games.
Joe Smith Position: PF Height: 6-10 Weight: 225 Age: 35 Contract: $1,352,181 (’10-‘11) Nickname: N/A Years with Team: 1 Years with League: 15 Previous Teams: Golden State, Philadelphia, Minnesota, Detroit, Milwaukee, Chicago, Cleveland, Oklahoma City, Atlanta, New Jersey Acquired: Three-way trade involving Terrence Williams, Sasha Vujacic, a 2011 Lakers first round pick (JaJuan Johnson) and a 2012 lottery-protected Rockets 1st round pick (Dec ’10) Strengths: Reliable enough long mid-range shooter, Draws charges, Offensive rebounding, Veteran presence, Meat-and-potatoes defensive pedigree Weaknesses: Apparently deteriorating offensive/defensive game, Nonelusive offensively/poor finisher-passer, Poor defensive rebounder, A bit foul prone
Offense: Over the past three years, Smith has been an incredibly inclined long mid-range shooter—his past hundred games alone have seen him take over half of his shots from 16 to 23 feet, and virtually all of them are off catch and shoot situations: in the past he’s hit this shot at a very decent to good clip, further verified by his career 79% free throw percentage. However, his past 258 catch-and-shoot jumpers have only been hit at a 34.9% clip, which is subpar and especially for a player who makes much of his living offensively as a catch and shoot jumpshooter. Even then, when Smith is hitting his jumpshots he’s average in terms of offensive efficiency, due to his persistently below average free throw rate, but when missing his efficiency is on the very poor side. Smith doesn’t play around the rim much at all, as evidenced by that poor free throw rate, and when he does he tends to get his shot blocked at a relatively frequent clip, primarily because he doesn’t possess much in way of strength, and this has kept him from playing too much in the post for much of his career despite being a skilled offensive player in his heyday. His only ventures in the post come when corralling offensive boards for tip-ins, but despite that he’s still not a very good finisher, but he has good touch from 10 feet although he rarely resorts to that shot. Smith is ultimately a player who blends in and doesn’t have plays ran for him offensively—he’s a relatively low usage offensive player, he passes the ball poorly even for PF standards, doesn’t turn the ball over much, and just spends the majority of his time spotting up for long mid-range J’s and crashing the offensive glass. But given that he’s not a very good finisher and the fact that his mid-range accuracy is trending downwards, unless he can right the ship, he’ll be nearly worthless offensively.
Defense: Despite being 35, Smith is still capable of making an average amount of defensive plays—he’s an average shotblocker in general and below average at intercepting passes, but he’s shown a knack for stepping in to draw charges, and although this rate has declined from earlier years he’s still quite good in this area. However, while he shows some control with his foul rate he’s still a bit of a hack, a trend exhibited when he was younger. Moreover, Smith has been a below average defensive rebounder for the past several years. In terms of actual defense, Smith’s defense in Atlanta fell off a cliff—his man-to-man and team defense were abysmal, but in previous and still relatively recent stints before that (in Cleveland, Oklahoma City) Smith played good to decent defense against most PFs—he’s a reliable man-to-man defender and can be a good team defender, but the results are more mixed here. Smith ultimately plays a brand of fundamentally sound defense—he plays players straight up and can use his length to force misses, and on team defense he can rotate well with mobility and draw charges—he doesn’t make many wow plays on this end, but has shown ability to get it done on this end even extending to two-three years ago. However, his play at Atlanta planted him as one of the worst players in the league on this end of the court, so one wonders if he’s really slipping, or if this may be a mild fluke. Moreover, he’s a bit foul prone and doesn’t control the defensive boards very well, so even when he plays good defense the overall picture is flawed; if the fundamental defense is slipping, then he would be near useless on this end of the court.
Intangibles: Smith is the consummate professional, being a mild-mannered individual who has found ways to maintain some level of productivity even as all of his athletic markers are declining—he now draws charges and takes more long mid-range J’s, two aspects of the game that age well, to offset decreasing finishing ability and defensive rebounding. However, it was only until last year in Atlanta where trouble arose in both his offensive and defensive game, but even if that’s problematic his veteran leadership combined with the fact that he’s well-traveled (he’s played for ten other teams, and several of these teams twice in separate stints) means that younger players can learn from him while he’s on the bench. He rarely complains and fouls excessively, having had one ejection, thirteen technicals and ten flagrants in his 619-game career. He’s had slight injury problems, but has played over 50 games ever since 2006, so he’s relatively but not overly reliable. Interestingly enough he’s also working on a solo rap album.
Future: The Lakers don’t expect Smith to play much—in fact they largely traded for him to get roughly $10 million in savings by trading Sasha Vujacic—but the Lakers have had interest in Smith dating back to mid-spring 2009 after the Thunder released him and back when he was still a relatively serviceable roleplayer. Smith’s value lies more in his expiring contract now, given that he won’t receive much playing time even if Phil tends to favor his veteran players. Moreover, with Bynum’s and Ratliff’s injury histories, it doesn’t hurt to have more big insurance. Smith makes a decent fifth/sixth big man, which is what he’ll be with Ratliff, Bynum, Gasol, and Odom playing the majority of the minutes, and Caracter possibly getting more depending on the situation.
Projection: Smith is most likely at the twilight of his career, and while he has aged well he went through massive regressions on both sides of the court at Atlanta. He’s a niche long range shooter/offensive rebounder on offense and a meat-and-potatoes type defender, and while he has a defined role it’s questionable how effective he’ll be within that role. He probably will be on the IR most nights or play garbage time minutes if he’s lucky.
Last edited by rydjorker121 on Mon Mar 19, 2012 3:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.
^ Great breakdown. I feel like he'll have about as much value as Theo offensively and a little less effective than Theo offensively. But hey, a body is a body and the Lakers need one. Especially since Phil refuses to play Caracter as much as he should.
Agreed. I actually like Smith more than Ratliff--Smith even back to 2 years ago could nail long mid-range J's and play very adequate defense, while Ratliff was just a shotblocker who sort of had that questionable defensive impact--I think Smith's just more refined. Both of them are old though and have lost a lot, but Smith hopefully can regain some of the defense/mid-range J's by playing with a championship team. If he even gets minutes that is.
Wow...I never really followed Smith's career but I did not know his play has slipped THAT much though it is not surprising entirely. Maybe this opportunity will leave the former Terp standout to summon whatever he has left in the small stints he will be given. It might not be much to the casual observer but it could mean the difference.
Nor can the Lakers get blamed for always making the right decisions over decades. At some point its not just luck or "gamble", its superior management and superior ownership.
Magic Skywalker wrote:Could someone tell me what is a meat-and-potatoes type defender?
I reckon someone who will physically grind, hold position and body up on who they are assigned to defend instead of gambling for steals by shooting passing lanes or roaming weakside trying for spectacular blocks. If not, someone who has meat and potatoes that will protect said food sources to keep from starving.
Nor can the Lakers get blamed for always making the right decisions over decades. At some point its not just luck or "gamble", its superior management and superior ownership.
Darius Morris Position: PG Height: 6-5 Weight: 190 Age: 20 Contract: TBA (if he makes team) Nickname: N/A Years with Team: 0 (as of yet) Years with League: 0 Previous Teams: N/A Acquired: 2011 Draft Round 2 (#41)
Strengths: Great size for position, Decent man-to-man defender, Good? spot up three point shooter Weaknesses: Atrocious offensive game/offensive impact, Super turnover prone, Not a true PG/significantly worse than advertised passing ability, Fluky long range shooting numbers, Doesn't take/make mid range shots, Doesn't make free throws, Below average finisher, Too low key? as a point guard, Horrible rebounder
Morris's calling card is clearly his defense--he's the Lakers' third best defender. Out of 270 NBA players, his range is between 78th and 123rd, definitely on the upper end, and accounting for team-wide noise he might even be the tenth best PG defender in the league. He doesn't have any major hotspot on defense, but he's quite good at defending shots directly at the rim and at mid-range, but seems to struggle more defending three pointers. Still, he's for someone who stands 6'5", he's an ABSOLUTELY atrocious defensive rebounder (70th out of 72 PGs) and also an atrocious shotblocker (64th), and overall a poor defensive playmaker (50th) working on an average foul rate. So while he can play defense, because he's so awful as a defensive playmaker and rebounder, he's probably only slightly above average, if that, on this end of the court.
Offensively, Morris is an incredibly low usage spot-up PG (62nd out of 72 PGs) who uses his opportunities to mostly seek the rim--he's 6th out 72 PGs in slashing to the basket, coupling that with excellent offensive rebounding (4th out of 72 PGs) but it's not a very robust at-rim game since he struggles to draw fouls, which drops him down to 16th. Moreover, Morris has a major identity crisis here--he seriously can't finish (66th out of 72 PGs), despite slashing so much, and the sad thing is that his attempts are assisted more than the average PG. He's also an awful ballhandler for someone who has his shot set up for him so much, and a subpar passer (48 out of 72 PGs in assist rate). Morris also takes a few spot-up threes (33rd out of 72) and is at least pretty good here (20th), but doesn't bother with mid-range shots or runners.
Ultimately, Morris's offense is a wreck, and to give himself any hope of sustaining in the league, he should fashion himself as a floor spacing spot-up three point shooter while putting his defense in the forefront to really help his career gain traction. But his defense really needs to be in the forefront--it's his calling card above anything else. And he's definitely not a PG offensively with his below par handles and passing, although he can be crossmatched to defend them. Similarly, his inability to rebound and make defensive plays is appallingly bad, which brings the overall defense down several notches. Morris ultimately has a ton of hurdles to overcome mostly on the offensive end, but even in defense it's not even close to rosy, so he's a question mark for how long he can sustain in the league.
Thrown into the fire as the Lakers' starting point guard with Steve Nash and Steve Blake, we can now come into some preliminary conclusions about how Morris has fared in the NBA. And in the aggregate, the assessment is quite poor.
On offense, Morris is an absolute wreck. Like many Lakers "de facto" point guards over the years, he has sported a very low usage rate the past two seasons. On the face of it, this is arguably the wrong way to use Morris--typically, players with low usage rates are mostly spot up shooters who otherwise get out of the way: in college, Morris was a nonexistent three point shooter and shot quite poorly from the stripe, so there's quite a sample of data to prove he's a poor shooter. Morris has actually bucked those odds this season, displaying a good spot-up three point shot particularly from the corners--he's 15 for 38 from three in his career so far. However, I'd think bad news runs through those numbers--for starters, he's only shot 59% on his free throws for his NBA career, he takes slightly below the league average for threes among PGs (so it's not a shot he really invests in), and if we're to look deeper, he has virtually no mid-range shot--he doesn't take too many from there, and he's well below the league average in his rare attempts there. Between the huge concerns with the free throws and mid-range shooting numbers, coupled with those already pre-existing concerns in college, I'd look for the three point numbers to drop more to something more reasonable for his standards--maybe the low to mid 30s once everything has been normalized.
And if Morris's shooting numbers normalize as expected, it doesn't bode well for him at all, considering the other offensive attributes are woeful: Morris is a preferred slasher and will use his rare attempts to get to the rim considerably more often than most PGs. The problem is that he's a subpar finisher, but perhaps even more than that he's super turnover prone in those ventures, a continuation of super high turnover numbers both in college and in his rookie year. Perhaps even more frustrating is that most point guards with low usage rates tend to have high assist rates almost by default: Morris actually has a below average assist rate for the position. This is surprising, but also frustrating, especially given the expectations that Morris was supposed to be a pure PG, based on his numbers in college (see spoilers below). Perhaps those expectations need to be re-calibrated, because Morris currently sports a bad passing-high turnover game for someone billed as a "PG", and it's hard for a player to improve on both elements over the course of their career. Basically, Morris's go-to move in his rare ventures to the basket is almost like an empty trip generator: he won't pass, and he's either going for a low-percentage at-rim shot or will more than likely turn the ball over. It's a frustrating scene that unfolds when that happens.
And Morris is predictable--defenses routinely sag off him as teams recognize his history of poor outside shooting, and when slashing, Morris plays into their tactics by barely taking any mid-range jumpers (even if he's also poor here) and instead trying to force something into the teeth of the defense. This ends up hurting his percentages, and as mentioned, ends up in a turnover often.
Ultimately, Morris's problem on offense is he doesn't have the know-how or IQ to adjust to the game flow: in the past he's played at a different wavelength than the other players of the court, being too fast for his own good and trying to make things happen instantaneously rather than be patient. These are typically the growing pains of young PGs adjusting to the league, and higher turnover PGs tend to fare better as the years go by. However, here's a number that will make many cringe: the Lakers are SIGNIFICANTLY better offensively (+11.3 points, to be exact) when Morris is off the court. 11.3 points. As mentioned, he makes many low IQ decisions and can't capitalize when teams routinely sag off him to double team others.
In terms of future prospects, while Morris has improved his patience a little bit, he has so many flaws it's hard to see him even becoming league-average in offense. His three point shooting is super fluky, and once that goes away we're left with a profile of a "point guard" who avoids mid-range shots, doesn't finish too well, is super turnover prone, and is a below average passer. That might mean that he has no offensive strength at all. Even with the outside shot the way it is right now, he's super woeful on offensive impact. When that leaves, which is likely, odds are the impact will be even worse. I think his offense is very likely to remain at "wreck" levels for as long as he is in the league. He has so many things that need fixing, but at best he's a third string PG, but he'll be out of the league if nothing is improved from its current stage.
Statistically, this also bears out--he's the triple whammy of the low-usage low-percentage-low passing guy, and players who have two of the three elements in his ballpark have the other as their redeeming quality: for example, Jamaal Tinsley can pass, and Aaron Brooks has significantly better (but still not great) shooting efficiency. As mentioned, it's hard to improve so many things over the course of a career, and even if he fixes one thing he's still looking at third string types like Tinsley and Brooks now. That's the (low) upshot.
Defensively, Morris is better, but not great enough to offset the wreck he has been offensively. He's a decent man-to-man defender--he has more lateral quickness than advertised and leverages his height well. As a team defender, he's more neutral. He's getting quite a few steals this season, but just like his three point shooting, if college numbers had any say in this it's a fluke: he was a very poor stealer in college. Also a continuation of college trends, he's an awful rebounder, particularly for a player who stands significantly taller than most point guards. He's no one's idea of a lockdown defender, but he's decent at this end particularly as a contain defender type. Still, just being "decent" isn't good enough to offset the atrocious offense at the other side of the ball.
Morris works hard and in doing so, has bucked the trends in two areas that were thought to be relative weaknesses (three point shooting and man-to-man defense), but it's hard not see those attributes normalize into their normal (and unfortunately worse) levels. But Morris's biggest problem is that he's not a point guard--all the "PG" type things in terms of usage rate, assist rate, and turnover rate, he completely fails at,and the assist rate in particular is the biggest surprise, as mentioned. Also, I'd question his leadership skills, which is particularly important from the PG--he's quite soft spoken/low key and doesn't seem to have enough "pull" in the traditional sense--and that explains why he's so willing to adapt to a lower usage rate, even though he's not playing under PG-restrictive Phil Jackson. Whether he has that killer instinct is also questionable. Ultimately, it's hard to see him doing an about-face as a three point shooter given the structure of his game, but a line of thinking is that it might be his best option to be a off-ball, decent threes-decent D sort of guy--not excellent at both, mind you, but those are the better attributes so far, and it could help prolong his career. As of now, he's a third string PG working his way out of the league. If he enhances his strengths, he might be the fifth guard off the bench instead.
Offense: Morris’s best asset by a very large margin is his passing ability and ballhandling skills—only one other point guard in college had a higher usage rate and racked up more assists in a single possession. It’s really hard to emphasize how great his passing ability for his size—many of his size are combos who eventually shift to SG in the NBA because their passing ability is in the combo range, but Morris is a PG through and through, and will be a PG in the NBA, with no ands, ifs, or buts about it; to have that natural passing ability at only 20 years old, much less at his height, is what made a lot of scouts salivate about his prospects and put him as a potential first rounder, despite all the other flaws he might have in his game Morris is very much a pure PG, and he thinks pass first, second and third, even if it’s by necessity given his offensive limitations. That’s largely the appeal—he’s a legitimate 6’5” and with his height he can easily see over the top of defenders, and dribbles the ball like it’s on a string. In fact, watching game film of him, he has a lot of PG tricks that NBA top level PGs possess—he likes to have the ball in his hands, but he has great recognition of where his teammates are and how to get the ball to them at the right spots with his dribble penetration. In particular, he has this knack for making accurate strong-arm passes through defenders off the dribble, and one-hand bullet passes reminiscent of Magic Johnson. Like most young PGs, however, Morris tends to force those passes, pounding the ball, overdoing the flashiness and dribbling excessively, and such out of control play has led to a high turnover rate, so even this strength has its weaknesses, although turnover prone PGs tend to have a higher success rate in the long run. Morris’s scoring efficiency in college was mediocre, but he might have a harder time in the league—his offensive game is completely nonelusive. Primarily, he probably won’t have NBA three point range—he was infrequent college three point shooter and shot extremely poorly in his few attempts there, and for someone who won’t take threes he also has a poor inability to draw fouls, so there’s actually the potential his offense might be very poor in the league. His mid-range game is just OK, as he actually has good ability in hitting pull-up mid-range J’s but really struggles to hit off the pass. Despite that flaw, he actually had a very high conversion rate on 2-pointers for PG standards; in particular, he has a nose for getting to the basket and the strength to finish. He’s very shifty in this regard, changing speeds to keep defenses guessing, and using an array of jab steps, pivots, crossover dribbles and spin moves to create seams and angles—that’s often elements of the game that are hard to teach. He also has the body type to fend off defenders, and can barrel to the basket and withstand contact decently; he’s capable of hitting long-armed scoop shots over defenders as well. But, the major question is: while that offense might be worse at the next level, can that slashing translate and perhaps optimize his passing ability at the next level? (see “Future”)
Defense: Morris’s wingspan is quite poor and he’s a subpar athlete for the next level, with poor leaping ability, just ok lateral quickness and nondescript transition speed—he’s very much a player who will have to rely on his shiftiness to make plays in the next level on both ends of the court, as opposed to athleticism. Watching film Morris appears to be reactive, competitive and appears to do a good job of using whatever length he has to contest shots, but in making defensive plays he’s on the bottom crust of college prospects. He’s very seriously lacking in ability to rack up steals, a common trait found in guards which often spells greater success in the league, and for a player who stands several feet taller than his opponents he had zero blocks this season. Zero. While Morris’s athleticism is subpar, it’s very surprising to see how Morris virtually has zero athletic markers to his game—he doesn’t use it on defense, he’s a despicably poor rebounder for his size, and while he can slash he can’t draw fouls well.
Intangibles: Morris has natural talent in his passing ability and gifted height for the position, but in terms of basketball intelligence he’s rough around the edges, which manifests itself in turnovers. That serious lack of imposition of athleticism especially on defense also brings questions about his work ethic—it could be an inherent limitation, but with his size and reach he should be able to stand out here. He’s very much a team player, albeit a bit ball dominant, and well conditioned, however, and his team needed him to avoid fouls as a key cog, so maybe some of those questions about his work ethic are overstated.
Future: I really understand Morris’s primary appeal—Morris has great size and passing ability for his position, and his type of passing ability is of the crowd-pleasing variety, which will ingratiate him with fans. Watching film of him, too, there’s just a lot of natural elements to his game that PGs in the league don’t have, and it’s easy to think that he can successful in a more up-tempo league where he is surrounded with better teammates. Moreover, in a league cluttered with undersized passers or tall combo guards (Reece Gaines, Jeryl Sasser, Jiri Welsch) trying to define their position, Morris already has those two attributes down pat, and moreover, watching him he appears like a natural, with elements of the game that you just can’t teach, between the shiftiness and the passing. The major question for Morris to overcome is whether his shiftiness will translate to the next level—his athleticism is subpar and against longer defenders he won’t be able to make the same moves against college competition. Will his primary strengths—making passes off the dribble and slashing—be taken away with defenders playing a step off him knowing that he lacks range and in general, a reliable jumper? Morris really only has one trick—his passing ability—and that trait is often optimized with shooting ability. Morris doesn’t appear to have that, or the athleticism to offset (a la Rondo or Westbrook) so he will need to follow the Andre Miller/Ramon Sessions route: fine-tune his ballhandling, improve his mid-range J to respectable levels and capitalize on his shiftiness to become a passing-slasher type. The passing ability is fully there, but it’s the serious lack of athletic markers and the poor foul drawing that rings the most questionable to me about his prospects. Morris was chided a lot for leaving college too early, and his NBA-readiness is very questionable as he does have much bust potential. In order for him to succeed, the team needs to be optimized around him: he won’t space the floor for a point guard and he really needs the ball in his hands to succeed, in that Andre Miller-like fashion.
Projection: I like the idea of Morris’s uniqueness, but at the end he might be overrated and could very well flame out. That being said, he could actually gain his way to playing time under new coach Mike Brown, who’s much more receptive to rookies than former coach Phil Jackson ever was. Derek Fisher’s minutes should be reduced and Steve Blake isn’t effective enough to play heavy minutes, so Morris should get opportunities at PG. But if Shannon Brown leaves, Morris also has the height to get spot minutes at SG as well. There’s actually an opening for a player like Morris, and the Lakers could certainly use an injection of youth and definitely playmaking on the court, which Morris provides. He probably won’t have that Jamaal Tinsley-rookie year type impact, but he could have one of the better rookie seasons the Lakers have seen in a while, if he pans out (I’m sort of iffy on his overall prospects, but the opening is definitely there).
Last edited by rydjorker121 on Wed Mar 13, 2013 10:51 pm, edited 7 times in total.
Andrew Goudelock Position: SG Height: 6-3 Weight: 200 Age: 22 Contract: TBA (if he makes team) Nickname: N/A Years with Team: 0 (as of yet) Years with League: 0 Previous Teams: N/A Acquired: 2011 Draft Round 2 (#46) Strengths: Excellent shooter with unlimited range/quick release, Excellent at pulling up for mid-range J’s, Above average athlete with leaping ability/lateral quickness, Very confident Weaknesses: Nonexistent PG ability/small on the court, Nonexistent rebounder/poor defensive playmaker
Offense: Goudelock is in the league for one thing, and only one thing: three point shooting. Every year in college, Goudelock has taken nearly half of his shots as threes, and perhaps the most intriguing thing about Goudelock is that he routinely pulls up from well beyond NBA range—think 26 to even 30 feet—to drain three pointers; he probably has the deepest range in this draft, and this also shows his confidence as he isn’t afraid to flaunt it. He hit the most spot-up NBA three pointers in the combine of any other prospect, and was the best overall shooter in the combine in general; he gets off his shot very quickly as well, which should further help him in the NBA. Goudelock is an absolute jumpshooter and a half-court scorer—nearly 80% of his shots in college were jumpers—and he actually has a pet move of going one-and-one and hitting pull-up mid-range J’s at a super high clip, a move that should be able to translate to the next level. His shooting drills in the combine verified it, as he hit all 21 of his mid-range J’s on the move, and is almost as proficient shooting off the dribble. He’s also capable of using picks to free himself up for shots, given his scoring tendencies. Goudelock will have no issues with shooting in the league—he hits between 39-44% of his threes and 82-87% of his free throws. Virtually because of this shooting ability, which is maintained even when he takes on a larger load of the offense, Goudelock was one of the most efficient scorers in the college game; however, because he’s virtually a jumpshooter, he doesn’t draw fouls so his brand of offense should suffer in the league. Elsewhere, Goudelock’s ball skills/unselfishness rate at SF levels at 6’3”—there’s no way he’ll be asked to create offense for others, based on his body of work in college. He’s an adept ballhandler when asked to score for himself on jumpers, so he maintains a relatively low turnover rate. Largely, he’s unable to create shots for others, and really looks to score for himself first, second, and third.
Defense: Goudelock looks really small on the court: he stands 6’3” tall, but a very short wingspan gives him a standing reach of a player that’s more like 6’0”. However, he can jump straight up and with a running start, with a 37 inch vertical leap. Moreover, he has very good lateral quickness and appears to have decent transition speed, so perhaps there’s untapped potential on defense that he can bring out in the NBA. In college he didn’t use his leaping ability or quickness to grab rebounds, as he was an atrocious rebounder for his position. He also made very few defensive plays, in fact looking like he was really trying to conserve his energy for offense often by not fouling much. Based on the physical tools, however, he might be able to defend NBA PGs decently, although with his lack of length he’ll probably be overmatched against taller and stronger players.
Intangibles: Oozes confidence as seen in his post-Laker draft interview. Not afraid to take responsibility on offense. Reported to have a good work ethic. Interestingly enough, he had enough “tricks” in his game he was drafted by the Harlem Globetrotters in the past.
Future: Goudelock looks like the jumpshooting-scorer type in the Eddie House mold, and even has that swagger and confidence to show for it which could help ease the transition to the NBA. He’s peaked and with his one developed pet trick he doesn’t have much upside left to tap, although it might be questionable given the poor competition he faced at the College of Charleston whether he’s truly NBA ready (I personally thought he really lacked NBA-readiness). But he’s a niche player, and shooters with confidence are appreciated in this league, so it’s not hard to see him finding a role in any offense. All his shooting numbers—between the combine and his four years of college—look so elite in the college level, and very legit that it’s hard not to see him succeed in some shooting capacity. His ability to get his shot off quickly, that aforementioned confidence/swagger, the defensive lateral quickness and leaping ability all make him look like a virtual Eddie House clone, as a matter of fact. Like House he probably can operate as a player who can space the floor if better offensive options are available, or as a sparkplug scorer for the second unit. Moreover, undersized shooter-scorers in my opinion have been more successful than the combo guard scorer/passer hybrids that litter the league, because they’re more defined and can play both on and off the ball. In that respect, he could actually be successful within that scoring/shooting role in the league.
Projection: The Lakers are in dire need of shooting and floor spacers, as they were exposed by the Mavericks in the playoffs for it. That’s the one elite thing Goudelock brings, with the added bonus that he can potentially be a sparkplug scorer for the second unit, another weakness of the Lakers, so this could be a very perfect match. Moreover, the Lakers have playmakers with Lamar Odom, Luke Walton, Pau Gasol, Steve Blake, etc that they can use as their defacto PGs so Goudelock could theoretically get minutes at SG, a weakness if Shannon Brown leaves this summer. Goudelock’s strengths fit squarely with what the Lakers sorely need, and there is potentially a huge enough opening at SG that he can easily see playing time on this roster.
Ater Majok Position: PF/C Height: 6-10 Weight: 225 Age: 23 Contract: TBA (if he makes team) Nickname: N/A Years with Team: 0 (as of yet) Years with League: 0 Previous Teams: N/A Acquired: 2011 Draft Round 2 (#58) Strengths: Shotblocking ability/extremely long Weaknesses: Very raw on offense/questionable shooting touch, Very foul prone, Turnover prone, Age might hinder development, Just an average rebounder
Offense: Majok is raw in every sense of the word—he’s unable to do anything with the ball other than catch and shoot or catch and finish, but even those two attributes are terrible as he lacks the bulk and toughness to finish strong and the shooting touch to hit shots—he shot 41% from the line in his only season with UConn. Majok is also a turnover waiting to happen, and generally was ignored on offense. At age 23, it’s incredibly doubtful that he’ll develop much more on this end, and he’ll probably be a terrible offensive player in whichever league he plays for.
Defense: Majok’s an average rebounder, but is much better on the offensive boards than in cleaning the defensive glass. He’s an excellent shotblocker, in particular having the length and raw athleticism to make a difference in at least the college level with a gigantic 7'7" wingspan, but also tends to be very foul prone.
Intangibles: Majok was a highly acclaimed UConn recruit and early in his career, draftniks even put him as a prospective lottery pick on the basis of his raw athleticism and shotblocking ability. However, he flamed out with the Huskies and abruptly left the program, bouncing around in Turkey and then most recently playing in Austraia. He’s been through a lot of hardships such as life in an Egyptian refugee camp and racism in Australia.
Future: It was said that Majok turned some Laker heads when he was able to run the court well and even play good perimeter defense while playing small forward at the Adidas EuroCamp, where he competed against top international prospects. The Lakers have openly stated that they will stash Majok in Europe for several years with the hope that he will grow and develop, but it’s really questionable—while he’ll have to make a living defensively if he even makes it at the NBA level, there have been more talented defensive players of his ilk—Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje, Saer Sene, Hasheem Thabeet, Ndudi Ebi—who haven’t panned out. He has all the warts of those players and no real distinguishing quality, and the major downside is that he’s 23 so it’s questionable how much he’ll improve. But at 58th the Lakers did have slim pickings so even if he doesn’t pan out, it’s not a big deal.
Projection: Majok will play the next several years in Europe, but I really doubt he’ll ever join the Lakers roster, barring some really serious development on the defensive end. On the international front, the Lakers also have stashed another raw rebounder, Chinemelu Elonu, in Europe, and one would think he’s a higher priority, even if both don’t pan out.
Good stuff man. Seems like everyone has major questions/doubts about Morris' abiltu at the NBA level, but IF he pans out he could be solid. I also really like the idea of Goudelock being a shooter off the bench like Eddie House, hope he has the game to make it at the NBA level as well, we could really use a shooter.