The moment that the last pick in the draft is announced and Mr. Irrelevant anointed, there is no doubt a mad scramble among general managers and front office staffs to cobble together summer league squads from the undrafted players who find themselves adrift in the wilderness as free agents. For these undrafted free agents, it is a new lease on life to once again show their stuff for NBA teams and (more realistically) possible landing spots abroad. For NBA teams, it is a sign of the reality that evaluation of these prospects hardly ends at the draft and if anything, it is a consistent, ongoing process as these players continue to hone their craft in the D-League, international leagues, and elsewhere as they work to achieve their NBA dream.
And indeed, if the draft itself is a crapshoot, sorting through the detritus of a class is even more so, but it behooves a team to explore all avenues of talent acquisition, something the Lakers have been generally better about doing recently.
We can see this in the names that so far have been connected to their summer league team in Ohio State's LaQuinton Ross:
LaQuinton Ross will play with the LA Lakers' entry in the Las Vegas Summer League, per his agent. Games start July 11. #buckbk— Bob Baptist (@BBaptistHoops) June 27, 2014
As well as Iowa State's DeAndre Kane:
The Newest Lakers
The Newest Lakers
Both are decent prospects, especially as far as undrafted free agents go, but as one would expect for players that fell out of the draft, they come with significant flaws as well. Ross has ideal length for the three, standing at 6'8'' with a huge 7'2'' wingspan -- he has the same standing reach (8'10'') as Randle, for comparison -- along with a good handle for a player of his size. Unfortunately, the rest of his game screams average, as his perimeter shooting ability was so-so for a player who will have to sell himself as a specialist in that area in the pros and he demonstrated that he wasn't quite up to par when asked to handle a much bigger portion of Ohio State's offense in his junior year following DeShaun Thomas' departure to the NBA.
For a guy of his length and size, moreover, his defense has also been maligned for most of his career, although he did noticeably improve on that end as his college career progressed. The makeup for an interesting three-and-D player is present here, but it is a fair question of whether Ross will ever be able to capitalize on it.
As for Kane, his college production isn't really the issue, as he was the heart of Fred Hoiberg's decidedly pro style offense at Iowa State. Excellent in transition due to his great size and strength for the point -- 6'4.5'' with a 6'8'' wingspan; a move to the wing isn't out of question -- Kane is at his best pushing the ball and drawing fouls on the way to the rim. His passing is still a bit suspect, as his erratic decision-making can attest to, but he improved by leaps and bounds under Hoiberg in that regard and appears to be a NBA ready contributor.
And that's the rub, as Kane better be ready to fit into a rotation the moment he steps onto the court since he's 25, positively ancient by draft standards. College production loses much of its luster when you are beating up on kids four to five years younger than you and while there's still an awful lot to like about Kane's game, you wonder how much of it will translate.
All of these issues notwithstanding, Ross and Kane are both rock solid selections as far as summer league goes and will join what appears to be a stacked squad that will have current Lakers Kendall Marshall, Ryan Kelly, Robert Sacre present, as well as recent draftees Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson joining them.
As previously mentioned, the Lakers have been rather poor at utilizing summer league as a method of talent acquisition, so it is endearing to see them take advantage of the opportunities available to them as they try to rebuild this roster.
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