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D-League spotlight: Ronald Roberts

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Our look at D-League continues, as we look at athletic forward Ronald Roberts

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Towards the end of my previous piece on James Michael McAdoo, I briefly touched on  the importance of the Los Angeles Lakers going after "low-risk, high-reward" players, whether they would be in the D-League or free agency. While these type of players won't push the team out of their current spot in the Western Conference cellar, they could develop into productive rotational players.

One of the names that possibly fits that criteria would be Delaware 87ers forward Ronald Roberts, who was recently cut after an extremely brief stint with the Philadelphia 76ers.

While Roberts might have a little bit of stench hanging over him after being dismissed from the dreadful 76ers, he still has a few notable traits that make him standout as a potential NBA player. Before digging deep into those traits, let's take look at the big elephant in the room when you discuss potential Lakers signees: Byron Scott. During Scott's brief stint with the team, there's been a noticeable pattern where he's more comfortable with playing veterans than prospects, despite the team being miles away from even being within distance of grabbing onto a position in the playoffs.

The case for Roberts, or any other frontcourt player, getting an immediate role with the Lakers would be the lack of front-court depth. As of this writing, Julius Randle (season-ending injury due to broken tibia) and Ryan Kelly (injury to both hamstrings) are both on the shelf, which currently leaves the team with four healthy front-court options.

When you take a look at Ronald Roberts, the first quality of his game that jumps out at you is how active he is on both ends of the court. Through the duration of any game, Roberts is constantly moving around, whether setting up screen-and-rolls or working off-ball to capture openings around the rim. By working off-ball, Roberts is able to fully use his quickness to get an immediate advantage over the opposition. Along with his motor and speed, Roberts oozes a tremendous amount of athleticism which allows him to be the "total package" as an offensive penetrator.

Although dribble penetration is the main aspect of Roberts' offensive game, he has exhibited some sort of knack as a post-up scorer. Even though it's been in limited glimpses through this season, Roberts shows a good amount of confidence when he's squaring up his opponent. While he lacks a real go-to move, Roberts does have a solid hook shot (shooting 55% on 9 attempts). He also has a spin-move to work away from his opponent and get an easy look at the rim.

Outside of his ability as a penetrator and post-up player, Roberts is one of the league's top offensive rebounders, averaging 4.4 offensive boards per game. While his athleticism definitely helps him, Roberts is able to get an advantage over the opposition by using his aforementioned aggression and instincts to secure loose balls.

Roberts exhibits the same amount of effort on the defensive end, offsetting his lack of size by being extremely tough, moving his feet and using his body. Those traits allow Roberts be a terrific pick-and-roll defender as he's able to keep pace with the vast majority of perimeter players. He isn't a shot blocker, though, as he's currently averaging .6 blocks per game, but that shouldn't take away from how solid of a defender he is.

In regards to his potential fit with the Lakers, Roberts can definitely fit  into a role with the team's second unit. Coming off the bench would allow Roberts to continue to progress on the offensive end without being tasked with having too much of the burden. That limited role will also allow Los Angeles to have a high-energy front-court player which they don't currently have after Ed Davis transitioned into the starting lineup. Similar to Davis, Roberts is most effective on the offensive end through either off-ball penetration or offensive rebounds. As of the time of this writing, the Lakers bench is currently at the top of the league for offensive rebounding (fourth in the NBA with 4.8 offensive boards per game). Those numbers are bound to drop with Davis moving into the starting lineup.

The Lakers should also be able to use Roberts' skill as an off-ball cutter, even though the bench doesn't exactly have a go-to distributor. Roberts should be able to counteract that, as he does a fantastic job of finding the necessary openings to get a clear path at the rim. While a mid-range jumper should be in Ronald Roberts' Christmas wish-list, he could still be effective as an off-ball penetrator that will be able to help Jeremy Lin or Ronnie Price in the pick-and-roll.

On the other end of the court, Roberts' impact would be even more important than it is on the offense because of how the reserves have struggled. LA's bench is 29th in the league in points per game allowed (37.2 PPG), with the majority of that coming from inside the paint. Wih Carlos Boozer moving his way to the bench, adding a defensive-minded player like Ronald Roberts is definitely imperative.

Perhaps the most intriguing part of Roberts defensive potential would be his ability to play multiple positions. Although Roberts has spent the majority of his career playing at power forward, his 6'8 frame combined with athleticism should allow him to also work at small forward, giving Los Angeles a versatile defender.

The combination of versatility and energy could allow Roberts to become a solid NBA role player, whether he gets picked up by the Lakers or any other team.