Although the Dwight Howard saga and the widely divergent paths his free agency decision will lead the Lakers down have been the main topic of conversation recently -- and frankly, what else is there to talk about nowadays? -- Lakers management is probably a tad bit more concerned about the draft that is steadily getting closer and closer. In line with this, they had a workout on June 13th in the Lakers' practice facility with a few names that might be familiar to those of you who graciously read the draft primer yours truly wrote about a month ago. And here they are:
Pre-draft workouts today w/ Kenny Kadji, Peyton Siva, Brandon Triche, Dewaye Dedmon, C.J. Harris & B.J. Young. pic.twitter.com/aJBhDoLL6l— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) June 13, 2013
Of these, three are second round prospects that are reasonably within the range of the Lakers' pick at number 48, namely Kadji, Siva, and Young. The others not so much simply because they are probably undrafted and on a direct course to finding employment in the D-League or a foreign team somewhere, the possible exception being Dwayne Dedmon. A familiar name to USC fans who were likely excited at some point at his talent, something nicely encapsulated by USC coach Kevin O'Neill's unbridled enthusiasm that Dedmon would be a first round pick, Dedmon has the size and athleticism you would expect from a NBA center but none of the offensive skill and polish he needs to succeed in the league. Dedmon's very raw game, lack of production at USC, and old age for a prospect have all heavily depressed his draft stock and if anyone takes him, it will be with the hope they can still mold him into a serviceable backup center. Considering the Lakers already have a prospect they hope to do exactly that to in the form of Robert Sacre and since center is not exactly a position of need at the moment, Dedmon was probably a body they wanted in the gym at best.
A similar calculus applies to both Triche and Harris, who are ranked as the 61st and 87th best seniors in Draft Express' database, a fairly damning image of their future in professional basketball. As for their bona fides, Triche is a big point guard whose shooting numbers dipped every year at Syracuse and he isn't particularly athletic or in possession of a good first step to compensate. The Lakers have traditionally liked big point guards, but Triche isn't exactly the prospect to invest into in that regard, especially with Young also present in the house. As for Harris, he is a 6'3'' shooting guard with very limited athleticism, a profile that has "headed to Europe" labeled all over it. The league has become more friendly to combo guards recently, but Harris possesses neither the skill nor the superlative athleticism required to overcome his physical profile.
Siva, however, has this in spades, as his 41.5'' vertical does wonders to help us forget about his 6'1'' height in shoes and 6'3'' wingspan. Familiar to just about anyone who ever deigned to glance at college basketball as a member of the national championship Louisville Cardinals, Siva has solid court vision, great defensive fundamentals to go along with fantastic quickness, operates well in a pick-and-roll centric system...and he can't shoot at all. That last part is especially damaging in light of the Lakers' spacing needs and how important that aspect has become in the modern game. To be fair, shooting is a skill that can be developed in prospects and doing so would work wonders because of all the other things Siva does on the court, but it is a significant hurdle for him to overcome. Nevertheless, his athletic profile and peripheral skills are sufficiently strong that he would be a decent choice for the Lakers in the second round and it would be interesting to see what Mike D'Antoni could do with Siva in his system.
As for Young and Kadji, we covered them here in the aforementioned draft primer, quoting for your convenience:
Age College (Year) PPG RPG APG FG% 3P% FT% 25 Miami (Senior) 12.9 6.8 0.8 47.1 35.1 66.1
Height w/o shoes Height w/shoes Weight Wingspan Vertical (no-step) Vertical (max) Lane agility 3/4 court sprint Bench press 6'8.75'' 6'10'' 242 7'3'' 34.0'' 38.0'' 11.47 3.44 9
The main problem in analyzing Kadji's impact is that he's very old for a draft prospect, being anywhere from three to seven years older than the guys he was competing against. It also makes his long-term upside especially limited since he'll be entering what should be his prime from the moment he sets foot on a NBA court. One can also have a certain degree of skepticism at his athletic numbers, as he has a more developed body than many of his peers, but it was impressive nevertheless. For a guy not particularly noted for his athleticism, his solid vertical and middling agility alleviates some of the concern of whether he can play the four in the pros. And that's where he'll make his mark, as Kadji's range extends out to to the three-point line and do all the usual things you associate with stretch fours. His percentages fell from his prolific junior season, but Kadji still was an efficient jump shooter as a senior as he took on a bigger role for a very good Miami team.
What will change is his touches on the post, a place Miami gave him a lot of possessions, as while he had some effectiveness in that department with his long arms and decent repertoire of moves, that area is simply too crowded on the Lakers' roster. Still, it certainly doesn't hurt for him to have that in his arsenal whenever mismatches are available and Kadji has sufficient size to play the five in some smallball lineups. Defensively, Kadji was a big part of one of the best defenses in the country at Miami, and while he might have some trouble checking the perimeter in the pros, he uses his length well and he demonstrated good strength as a post defender.
Kadji's weakness on the defensive boards is something he'll have to improve on in the pros, as he was merely mediocre in that department in college despite having a physical advantage on a lot of his opponents due to his age. Having Dwight or Jordan Hill as a frontcourt companion does make that concern a bit muted, but there's no reason he shouldn't be better considering his frame. Altogether, Kadji is a fairly finished prospect and one should temper their expectations accordingly. Still, for someone who can walk in and be a part of the frontcourt rotation next to either of the Lakers' primary frontcourt players, Kadji fits the bill and the stuff in his game beyond shooting might allow him to carve out a niche in the league.
Age College (Year) PPG RPG APG FG% 3P% FT% 19 Arkansas (Sophomore) 15.2 3.5 3.4 44.9 22.7 66.9
Height w/o shoes Height w/shoes Weight Wingspan Vertical (no-step) Vertical (max) Lane agility 3/4 court sprint Bench press 6'2.25'' 6'3.5'' 179 6'8.25'' N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
The exact opposite applies for Young, who was once a lottery prospect after a torrid freshman season and lost essentially all of that good will by falling to earth in his sophomore year. The biggest culprit was that he simply forgot how to shoot; his .504/.413/.743 averages as a freshman stand in stark contrast to his recent play and his usage rate was roughly the same both years. Perhaps it was a result of his attempt to be more of a distributor as a sophomore, as Young can be safely labeled a combo guard, not having the passing ability to play the point and is a bit on the short side for the two even his wingspan does compensate for that a bit. At least initially, he probably will be coming off the bench as a change-of-pace player.
In that department, however, Young fits the bill in almost every respect. He has great explosiveness and speed and was one of the best transition players in college basketball last year. On the Lakers, he might have to be a one man break, but he can definitely push the pace and thrive in an uptempo system. The loss of his shooting ability hurt him in the halfcourt and his future will largely be tied to how well he recovers it. Still, he is a creative scorer in isolation or off the pick-and-roll and is very good finishing against contact. As mentioned, his distributing skills perked up as a sophomore, so he could perhaps handle the point in a limited capacity, but most of the time, he's going to be looking for his own shot.
As with most players who handled that kind of offensive burden, Young's defensive effort was inconsistent, but as with Paul, he has the tools to be a solid contributor if his awareness and energy improve. When considering the ceiling of any of the players here, Young's might be the most intriguing since he probably would have gone in the late lottery if he declared last season. Even now, he's only 19 and should he recover his jump shot, he could be a very effective player in the pros. The boom-or-bust factor is a significant factor here, but the Lakers probably should jump all over a player with Young's potential late in the second round.
A cynical viewer might see Triche, Harris, and Dedmon as merely bodies for the Lakers to test Siva, Young, and Kadji against respectively and this line of analysis has a lot to go for it. In any case, that the Lakers had three prospects that would all be likely choices in the second round in their own facility at the same time is pretty endearing and it offers a hopeful note to how their pre-draft thinking is going. Whether it is perimeter athleticism or shooting, the Lakers are targeting their needs and trying to turn one of these flawed prospects into something much more than what their profile indicates. At least at the moment, it appears that they are starting their search on the right foot.
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