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  • LakerTom (Publisher) 2:51 PM on May 29, 2017 Permalink |  

    Stephen A. Smith, who has incorrectly predicted last six NBA Finals, picks Warriors 

  • LakerTom (Publisher) 2:35 PM on May 29, 2017 Permalink |  

    The Orlando Magic could do worse than inquire about D'Angelo Russell 

    With a high lottery pick and a new general manager in place the Orlando Magic are off to a promising summer, but would adding D’Angelo Russell make it much better?

    Right now the Orlando Magic are mulling over who to choose with the sixth pick in the upcoming 2017 NBA Draft.

    Given that the talent pool from this class is so deep, it’s a nice position to be in. There’s even less pressure because the team can pick from the best available player left and work from there.

    After all, we’ve seen them not quite get it right with higher draft picks, with players like Victor Oladipo being proof of that.

    Already we’re hearing plenty of talk about who the team should not draft with their pick. No matter who they go for, a franchise-altering point guard might not be left on the board when their time to select is up.

    Which is why they should look at potentially exploring a trade that would bring Los Angeles Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell to town.

    On the surface, this doesn’t make much sense for the Magic, but there is a case to be made for looking to add Russell to the team.

    It starts with their current point guard situation, and what will be available in this draft as well. Elfrid Payton, their current starter at this position, has improved leaps and bounds in his three years with the team.

    He’s fantastic at driving to the basket, has the most triple-doubles in franchise history and averaged a career-high (6.5) in assists last season.

    But fans would be kidding themselves if they thought he had shown enough to even think about being an All-Star level player one day. We live in an era where great teams need great point guards, and Payton would fall into the lower third of the league when ranking each team’s starter at that position.

    That’s no knock on him, however, and he’s shown through coming off the bench for this team before that he can be an excellent sixth man.

    He’s started 190 of the 237 games he’s played for the team, but he’s been taken out of the starting lineup enough to know how not being a starter works.

    It would also be a tasty combination alongside likely backup starter Nikola Vucevic, who expanded his game beyond the three-point line this season (shooting just over 30 percent).

    If the team could add somebody like Russell, automatically they become a better team offensively, and he brings that much more interest to the team as well.

    Russell is by no means a star in this league, but he looks the part. He’s got a flashy offensive game and that ice in his veins celebration he likes to crack out every so often.

    These are by not concrete reasons to sign a player, but it’s also true to say the Magic need a reason for fans to tune in. Ask a casual fan who doesn’t support the Magic to name their starting five, and they’ll struggle.

    Bring up Russell’s name, and at the very least they’ll be aware of that outrageous Nick Young video he leaked.

    It may seem a weak argument, but on any given night why would you tune in to watch the Magic play?

    The idea of watching well run defensive schemes by solid and unspectacular professionals is one thing. Switching over to watch Bismack Biyombo set a crushing screen for Russell, who in turn lobs the ball to a rising Aaron Gordon is another.

    They’d be a second tier version of the Los Angeles Clippers in the East. Given that right now they’re not anything at all, that’s not a bad position to be in.

    They could even go all in and bring Doc Rivers into the fold as head coach as well, even if that no longer looks likely. Beyond the aesthetically pleasing nature of having Russell on the team, having him as the starter with Payton backing him up makes sense for other reasons.

    He’s a career 35 percent three-point shooter, and has averaged more points (15.6) than Payton ever has in this league.

    According to NBA.com, 61 percent of all Payton’s points come from 0-3 feet from the basket. For Russell, 40 percent of all points he scores come from 16 feet an further away from the hole.

    That is but one number that shows how both players operate, but it’s a telling statistic. Insert Russell into this Magic team and watch Terrence Ross get more open looks.
    Mario Hezonja suddenly has more room to operate as well, as does Evan Fournier.
    Payton is without doubt the better passer of the two, but Russell’s 4.8 assists last season weren’t a million miles from what Payton posted.

    Interestingly, Russell was judged to have lost the ball 121 times over the course of the season. For Payton, that number was 127.

    Russell was judged to have made 29 bad passes leading to turnovers (that number was a whopping 93 during his rookie year), while Payton had 18.

    We like to think of Payton a somebody who looks after the ball, a player who is only getting better in that regard. That may be true, but with one year less experience Russell isn’t as far behind him as you might think. This despite having a reputation as more of a carefree player who tries risky plays.

    Besides, it would be cool to see a player go in the other direction, after the Lakers took the two best players in Magic franchise history (Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard).

    Finally, given that the Lakers are likely to take Lonzo Ball, their need for a point guard like Russell dwindles.

    This means it may not cost the Magic a lot to acquire him. Already we’ve discussed why Dennis Smith Jr. represents a player too similar to Payton to try and get this summer as well.

    So why not see if D’Angelo Russell is available? He is only two years into his career, would draw interest and would be a totally different player stylistically to Elfrid Payton.

    It may not seem like a stretch, but in the context of the Orlando Magic’s young history, stranger things have happened.

    • LakerTom (Publisher) 2:43 PM on May 29, 2017 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I think trading #6 pick for Russell would be a great deal for Orlando but not for the Lakers. The problem the Magic have is a point guard who can’t shoot and a draft spot where all the likely available point guards also have questions regarding their shooting stroke. You need shooters to spread the floor, which is why Russell is still extremely valuable to the Lakers. He is a good fit alongside Lonzo Ball offensively even if there are questioned to be answered defensively.

      It would take a lot more than the #6 pick for the Lakers to accept it as the price for former #2 pick D’Angelo Russell. Unfortunately for the Magic, they don’t really have anything more the Lakers might want at this point since unless they were interested in swapping Biyombo and Gordon for Mozgov and Deng. That’s the only way I could see them trading for Russell.

  • LakerTom (Publisher) 2:00 PM on May 29, 2017 Permalink |  

    NBA Draft 2017 | Lakers preview 

    Our 2017 NBA Draft preview series continues with a look at the Los Angeles Lakers.

    The marquee franchise is in flux, and it’s still deep in the throes of the rebuilding process.

    Any draft is important, but this one is particularly critical for new team president Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka. Armed with the No. 2 overall pick and an additional first-round selection, they could acquire gifted prospects who push L.A. toward a return to glory. With the right mix of foundational pieces, Luke Walton could help the Purple and Gold gradually climb the standings.

    Let’s examine L.A.’s 2017 draft situation to see how they’ll likely approach things on June 22.

    2016-17 record: 26-56.

    Draft picks: No. 2, No. 28 (via HOU).

    Team needs: Playmaking, defense, 3-point shooting.

    The rebuilding Lake Show already has several promising contributors, most notably D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson and Brandon Ingram. Even less-heralded big men Larry Nance Jr. and Ivica Zubac hold long-term value. However, L.A. has several glaring deficiencies holding the club back from truly competing in the Western Conference.

    In the backcourt, the Lakers need more dynamic playmaking. Russell and Clarkson are creative in spurts, but they’re scorers by nature. L.A. averaged just 21.2 assists per 100 possessions last season, which ranked 27th in the league. The squad needs better team ball movement, and it could use a point guard whose primary focus is to facilitate.

    Walton’s crew also must transform its defense, both by internal development and personnel upgrades. The Lakers have been an absolute sieve the last couple of seasons, including the league’s worst defensive rating (113.0) in 2016-17. In order to improve, they need better speed and technique at the point of attack, along with more formidable rim protection.

    Another chief need is more 3-point shooting. If they want to make strides, the Lakers have to convert more than 9.0 triples per 100 possessions, which was their 2016-17 rate. Improved chemistry will inevitably help, but they should still keep an eye on long-range threats in the draft.

    Markelle Fultz is the best prospect in the field and should sit atop their prospect wish list. He’d address most of L.A.’s long-term issues. But if the Boston Celtics draft him first, the Lakers should target Lonzo Ball, De’Aaron Fox, Josh Jackson and Jayson Tatum.

    Their final decision depends on what they value most at this juncture in the rebuilding process. If Pelinka and Co. want the best playmaker and the flexibility to move Russell to the 2-guard spot (or out of town via trade), Ball is the answer. The 6-foot-6 UCLA wunderkind has brilliant instincts, vision and passing precision in a fast-paced style. He also connected on 41 percent of his 3s last season. Despite a funky shooting motion, he hit many of them from NBA range.

    If L.A. wants to take a more defensive route, Kentucky’s Fox is a legitimate candidate. The shifty freshman has much better lateral agility and aggressiveness on that end than Ball; he’ll do a much better job containing opposing point guards. Fox isn’t as polished in the passing and shooting departments, but he’s productive offensively because he creates havoc off the bounce.

    The next two candidates are versatile forwards Jackson and Tatum, both of whom are widely regarded as top-five prospects. Jackson is probably the preferred wing in L.A. because he’d boost its defense and playmaking. The Lakers are most likely to land Ball or Fox, but Jackson is not a bad safety-valve option.

    What about the No. 28 pick? The Lakers have this slot thanks to the Lou Williams trade, and they should target a role player who will support the team’s rising stars.

    There may not be many dynamic guards and wings to choose from late in the first round. However, there will be a bunch of athletic, hungry forwards and bigs ripe for the picking. Some of the best options include Oregon’s hyper-athletic stopper Jordan Bell, Kentucky’s rebounding machine Bam Adebayo and SMU’s 3-and-D forward Semi Ojeleye. All three of these players would inject much-need explosiveness to L.A.’s frontcourt.

    The Lakers aren’t the strongest candidates to move up in the draft or trade for a major superstar this summer. That’s something they’re more likely to do in 2018 and 2019, when they’ve accumulated more talent and figured out which young pieces they want to use for a playoff run. For now, they’ll aim to enhance their playmaking attack and defensive stinginess with their two first-round picks.

    • LakerTom (Publisher) 2:12 PM on May 29, 2017 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      If the Lakers do decide to save their cap space for summer of 2018 and be patient to see what impact Lonzo Ball could have on the rest of the Lakers young core, then the one big unknown for the 2017-18 roster is whom will the Lakers select with the 29th pick in next month’s draft. Here’s a sample of what our season beginning roster might look like if we are not going to spend money in free agency:

      PG -- Lonzo Ball / Tyler Ennis
      SG -- D’Angelo Russell / Jordan Clarkson / David Nwaba
      SF -- Brandon Ingram / Corey Brewer
      PF -- Julius Randle / Larry Nance, Jr. / Luol Deng
      CE -- Ivica Zubac / Tarik Black / Timofey Mozgov

      I’ve posted earlier takes that Jordan Bell and Jonathan Jeanne would be interesting options as centers but the Lakers’ other need in the frontcourt is a 3-and-D player who can also play stretch 4. I had seen Semi Ojeleye’s name on several mock drafts but knew nothing about him at all. After watching the following video, I think he could be an outstanding fit on the Lakers. Is kind of like what Julius Randle would be if he had a shot. Ojeleye uses his body like a battering ram. Reminds me of a young better shooting Jimmy Butler.

  • LakerTom (Publisher) 1:27 PM on May 29, 2017 Permalink |  

    Working out for the #LakeShow today, @OregonMBB forward Jordan Bell 

  • LakerTom (Publisher) 12:40 PM on May 29, 2017 Permalink |  

    Former UCLA teammate says Lonzo is being treated unfairly in media due to his father 

  • LakerTom (Publisher) 11:41 AM on May 29, 2017 Permalink |  

    NBA Draft: Rookies won’t make you better tomorrow 

    NBA Draft: Rookies won’t make you better tomorrow

    The value of investing in rookies can vary depending on how close an NBA team is to the top.

    As we wait for the 2017 NBA Draft to commence, we dream about other teams besides the Warriors and Cavaliers excelling. And like every other year, we see two or three players entering the draft that made huge headlines playing college ball. As things stand, we’re looking at Lonzo Ball and Markelle Fultz to go one and two in the draft. Perhaps not in that order, however, considering Ball may be a lock for the Lakers, who have the second pick.

    Contrasting fortunes of top-two picks

    In the past 10 years, we’ve seen rookies coming out of mostly Duke and Kentucky looking to make an impact. And within that same time, of the top two picks only one tends to make a notable career at NBA level. Here is a breakdown of how the top two draft picks have fared since 2007:

    2007: Kevin Durant was drafted by Seattle as the No. 2 pick. Greg Oden was taken at No. 1 by Portland. We all know about the different careers these two players have had.

    2008: Derrick Rose went to the Bulls as the first overall pick and enjoyed huge success. The second pick was Michael Beasley, who is plying his trade with the Bucks.

    2009: Blake Griffin went to LA and has become a household name. The second pick was Hasheem Thabeet.

    2010: John Wall was No. 1 and has made waves in Washington. Evan Turner went to the Sixers as the second overall pick and has become a bit of a journeyman since.

    2011: Kyrie Irving goes to Cleveland, and brings back LeBron. The second pick, Derrick Williams, has been underwhelming.

    2012: Anthony Davis, the No. 1 pick, is an up-and-coming star. The same can’t be said for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the second pick that year.

    2013: Anthony Bennett, followed by Victor Oladipo. Neither has achieved star status, though both are potential X-factors. 

    2014: LeBron James passed on Andrew Wiggins from Kansas, followed by a disappointing Jabari Parker.

    2015: Karl Anthony-Towns went No. 1 before D’Angelo Russell, who the Lakers are still waiting on.

    2016: Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram both look promising. If history is anything to go by, only one will shine on an NBA roster within the next five years.

    Can rookies make a quick difference?

    Whether it’s top-two or late draft picks, a rookie won’t make your franchise better immediately. NBA fans romanticize over these 19-year-old ‘phenoms’ coming off one successful year at college, who have proven time and time again to not have a lasting impact. If and when they do make a name for themselves, it takes about four to five years for them to reach their prime, and change an organization.

    Best case scenario

    Gordon Hayward averaged 5.1 points per game for the Jazz in his first year after being drafted. The following years he averaged 11.8, 14.1, 16.2, 19.3, 19.7, then 21.9. Hayward is a fantastic player who took some time to find his feet in the NBA. Time is the essential ingredient here. Yet, a team chasing NBA glory, like Boston, doesn’t have time to watch Fultz develop to achieve its goals. Drafting a young talent won’t necessarily hurt them, but it’s not going to give them that missing piece immediately.

    By contrast, the young Lakers do have time to watch a player like Ball develop, as the team around him has the average age of 21. We tend to overrate many of these players, as the draft history has shown. Some end up developing favorably for these teams, but many fail to justify their status as a top-two pick.

    Order of operations

    If a franchise is looking to re-enter the Eastern or Western Conference finals at the very least, history shows a rookie is not the answer. At least not for the following year. Even a rookie by the name of Michael Jordan wasn’t an immediate answer. If the Celtics choose Fultz at the top of the draft, they will be adding him to an already guard-heavy team, and may end up in the same spot or worse next year. A better move would be to look into the history books, and get a big or a forward to compliment an offense that lacks big protection, rebounding, and tougher defense. A 19-year-old, 6’4″ rookie is not the answer, as history has shown.

    • LakerTom (Publisher) 12:06 PM on May 29, 2017 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      With all due respect, I believe Lonzo Ball will immediately make the Lakers a better basketball team. He will have a transformational affect on the Lakers as a rookie, not unlike the impact that Magic Johnson or Jason Kidd had their rookie seasons. The reason Lonzo will have such a huge impact is the same reason Magic and Jason transformed their teams -- he will make his teammates better. And he is coming to a team and coach that are perfect fits for his game.

      While Lonzo isn’t going to transform the Lakers into 60-22 NBA champions like Magic did in his rookie season, he could very well be the catalyst in the Lakers improving last year’s league 3rd worst 26-56 record by 23 games to a lofty 49-33 record, an accomplishment similar to that of fellow #2 overall pick Jason Kidd, who elevated the 1994 Mavericks from a 13-69 to a 36-46 record, averaging 11.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game while leading the league in triple doubles and winning rookie of the year honors. That’s why these kids get another year.

      Last year, a 49-33 record would have been a #6 seed in the West. It’s a heady vision for sure but I’m excited to see the Lakers with Lonzo at point guard, Russell at shooting guard, Ingram at small forward, Randle at power forward, and Zubac at center. Each of the Lakers projected starters are great fits to play alongside Lonzo. All 5 players can score, rebound, and assist. Offensively, they should finish the season among the leaders in pace and points per game.

      Unfortunately, it will take more time for the team to aspire to Showtime production defensively. I do think, however, that Ball and Russell will work well together defensively. Brandon Ingram has stopper potential, Julius Randle can be a demon when motivated, and Ivica Zubac could surprise everybody. In the end, the Lakers will still be a flawed team in many ways but with Lonzo driving the offense, I’m looking for the rest of the Lakers young core to enjoy career and breakout years as Lonzo Ball turns the Lakers into a juggernaut and brings back Showtime.

  • LakerTom (Publisher) 10:37 AM on May 29, 2017 Permalink |  

    NBA Draft 2017: Mock Draft and Fringe 1st-Round Prospects to Watch 

    Fringe 1st-Round Prospects to Watch

    Jordan Bell, F, Oregon

    Typically the difference between a player drafted in the top 10 and one flirting with the first round at all is upside.

    Teams want prospects who can grow into elite players, not necessarily guys who grew into themselves and posted quality production for years at the collegiate level. They’re older and usually don’t have as much room to grow.

    This predicament tanks Jordan Bell’s stock a bit. The Oregon product played three years with the program, most recently averaging 10.9 points and 8.8 rebounds per game while shooting 63.6 percent from the floor. His coming in at 6’9″ and 225 pounds makes it a bit hard to project his position at the next level. 

    The good news for Bell? He came away as one of the combine’s biggest winners thanks to his style and athletic testing, as DraftExpress’ Julian Applebome pointed out:

    “Bell’s do it all defensive and rebounding style of play has definitely played well at the Combine, and it would not be surprising to see him potentially get looks from NBA teams at the end of the first round of some draft boards. Bell initially registered a shuttle time of 2.56, which would have been the best mark in the history of our database, but for some reason that was disqualified.”

    This elite athleticism hints at a better adaption to the pros than initially suspected. He’s a bit of a tweener, but if he can run well and round out his offensive game, a strong presence in a rotation awaits. 

    This hint of upside and otherwise proven production is why the Orlando Magic take a risk on Bell in the mock above. He’s an immediate role player there who can grow alongside a young core boosted by an earlier pick in the round and guys like Aaron Gordon.
    Jonathan Jeanne, C, France

    Jonathan Jeanne looks ready to throw the NBA draft for a loop. 

    Jeanne is the type of prospect who could come out of nowhere to steal a spot in the top half of the first round—though it wouldn’t be too hard to see him coming because he’s 7’2″ and 207 pounds. Oh, and he has a 9’6″ reach and 7’7″ wingspan.

    This isn’t all about simple measurements, especially when Jeanne seems to come in a bit lighter than some might prefer, but if he can keep filling out his frame, he’ll eventually be a starter at the pro level. 

    But with Jeanne it’s not so much the size as it is the skill set he pairs with it. The French star can shoot with great range, as Applebome’s colleague, Jonathan Givony, pointed out: 

    “His skill-set is extremely unique for a 7-footer, as he handles the ball impressively in both the half-court and full-court, and has range out to the 3-point line, even shockingly being capable of making pull-up jumpers off isolation plays. Defensively, he moves his feet well and has obvious potential with his combination of mobility, size and length, even if he’s far from being a polished player here.”

    Jeanne probably doesn’t represent the next evolution of the pro game, but what he brings to the table sure doesn’t hurt considering the premium placed on spacing and shooting right now.

    It’s enough for the Los Angeles Lakers to take him near the end of the first round above, hoping he can one day fill out his frame and enter the rotation, if not take a starting spot.  
    Sindarius Thornwell, G, South Carolina

    South Carolina’s Sindarius Thornwell falls into the same trap as Bell—he had a strong senior season, but the fact he had one is a problem for NBA teams in the first half of the opening round. 

    Thornwell is already 22 years old and only weighs in at 6’5″ and 210 pounds. Those issues aside, he’s in the fringe discussion because he had such a strong performance in the NCAA Tournament, where he posted 24 or more points in four consecutive Big Dance games while helping the Gamecocks shine as a Cinderella. 

    This situation isn’t lost on Thornwell, who has openly stressed how he can help teams right out of the gates.

    “I’m not a lottery pick, but I feel like I’m a lottery player,” Thornwell said, according to The State’s Dwayne McLemore. “I’m a glue guy. I can come in right away and produce on both ends of the court, but most importantly, the defensive end.”

    There’s no doubt Thornwell can come in and help right away. Undersized or not, he can inject a bit of offense into a rotation and keep second units scoring well while starters rest. 

    Above, the Brooklyn Nets take a sure thing like Thornwell near the end of the first. The franchise figures to splurge in free agency in an effort to rebuild, so turning around and getting a high character guy who can offer guaranteed production right away is a bonus after watching another team use their No. 1 pick.

    • LakerTom (Publisher) 10:41 AM on May 29, 2017 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I love both Jordan Bell and Jonathan Jeanne and would be thrilled if the Lakers landed either one of them with the #28 pick. Both a big men who can protect the rim and defend the pick-and-roll. Bell would be able to contribute right away as a small ball center but Jeanne might have the greater upside due to his ability to shoot the ball from distance and his freakish height and length. He could be Rudy Gobert with a 3-point shot. The combination of Ivica Zubac and Jonathan Jeanne would give the Lakers two great two-way center prospects.

      • keen observer

        keen observer 11:07 AM on May 29, 2017 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        With all the young players on the Lakers, a “draft and stash” at #28 might be a good idea, assuming this pick doesn’t get traded.

        • LakerTom (Publisher) 11:29 AM on May 29, 2017 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          Draft and stash would not spend salary cap but I wonder if we could also make him our 16th or 17th roster player and stash him in the D-League, where he might face tougher competition and be coached in the same system as he would play on the Lakers.

          Not sure whether he would have to be undrafted to qualify as the 16th or 17th player. But we surely could leave him in France unless, like Zubac, he wants to come now. In any event, even if we have to sign him to a regular 2nd round pick contract, Jeanne could dominate defensively on our second unit and/or spend time in the G-League.

          The fact that we can send guys to our minor league team and still keep rights to them is why the G-League could prove to be a huge improvement in developing resources than the old D-League. Hopefully, all NBA teams will have a G-League affiliate and they will expand the roster so teams could have up to 5 young players under development contracts.

  • LakerTom (Publisher) 9:56 AM on May 29, 2017 Permalink |  

    Is Josh Jackson a better prospect than Lonzo Ball? 

    Josh Jackson, at this point, seems to be the consensus best prospect not named Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball.

    He’s 6-foot-8. He’s super-athletic. He’s competitive as hell. He’s skilled enough to play the point in a pinch and tough enough that he played the four at Kansas. On paper, he’s Andrew Wiggins physically with all the intangibles that we wish Wiggins had.

    Then there’s the other side of it.

    Jackson’s jump shot, which went in at a 37.8 percent clip from beyond the arc last season, has enough of a hitch in it that there is legitimate concern about just how good of a shooter he’ll end up being without a complete overhaul of his stroke. There’s also the mental side of the game: Jackson’s an instinctual playmaker that has a bad habit of being a space cadet defensively.

    I’m not here to tell you those red flags don’t exist. They do. He has room to grow there.

    But I am here to tell you that Josh Jackson is closer to being the best prospect in this draft than the third-best, and by the time I’m done here, you’ll be agreeing with me.

    Height: 6’8″
    Weight: 207
    Wingspan: 6’10”
    2016-17 Stats: 16.3 points, 7.4 boards, 3.0 assists, 1.7 steals, 1.1 blocks, 37.8% 3PT

    STRENGTHS: The reason that Jackson is so coveted as a prospect are the things that he does that you cannot teach.

    It starts with his competitiveness. Jackson is a fiery, he’s intense and it manifests itself in the way that he plays, almost to a fault; Jackson picked up four fouls in 11 of 35 games as a freshman and picked up a handful of technical fouls after interactions with officials. There’s also a toughness to him that outweighs his 207 pound frame. He’s not afraid to get into tangles for loose balls, he’s not going to get backed down easily and he’s more than willing to put his body on the line to take a charge. Simply put: I’d rather try to keep the reins on a player that may care just a little too much than have to find a way to fire up an apathetic talent.

    Then there are the physical tools. Athletically, he’s a bouncy, quick-twitch player that can move laterally with terrific body control and the ability to changes speeds on the move. He’s quick enough to stay in front of point guards and explosive enough to block shots, catch lobs and throw down tip-dunks, and his 6-foot-8 size allows him to be a versatile, multi-positional defender. I hesitate on saying he has a elite physical tools due to his wingspan and frame, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

    Lastly, there are his instincts. He’s a read-and-react player, a guy that can make plays defensively by jumping passing lanes, getting weak-side blocks and taking charges. He has a knack for getting easy buckets cutting to the rim and is aggressive on the glass on both ends of the floor.

    Those are things that cannot be taught. You either have it in you or you don’t, and Jackson has it.

    He also has some skills. We’ll get into the issues with his jump shot in a minute, but Jackson did make 37.8 percent of his threes as a freshman, including a 25-for-52 stretch to close the season. He utilizes ball-fakes and has a good enough first step to attack close outs, and while he isn’t the best or most creative finisher at the rim, he is capable of using both hands and has shown that he can make a floater.

    What’s more promising, however, is that Jackson has the potential to be a secondary ball-handler and creator. He has above-average vision and is an unselfish player and willing passer, averaging 3.0 assists as a freshman. He can operate in pick-and-rolls and is capable of bringing the ball up against pressure.

    He’s still raw offensively — he makes some bad decisions, commits some turnovers — and, at times, looks like he hasn’t been coached all that much defensively, but the skills he does have combined with the things he does that cannot be taught are a fantastic foundation for an NBA organization to work with.

    In a sport that is becoming increasingly positionless, Jackson provides starpower potential with versatility on both ends of the floor.

    WEAKNESSES: The biggest issue with Jackson as a prospect is his jump shot. Yes, he shot 37.8 percent from beyond the arc, but it’s hard to tell whether or not that’s just the result of Jackson getting hot in a small sample of catch-and-shoot jumpers.

    According to Synergy, Jackson shot just 57 percent from the free throw line, 35.9 percent on all jump shots, 32.3 percent on jumpers off the dribble and just 20.8 percent on two-point jumpers. The main concern is that Jackson has a hitch in his release that creates a lot of moving parts in his stroke, resulting in different release points. You can see it in the video below, there is a slingshot action in his release:

    The question marks surrounding Jackson’s jumper sink his stock because, despite his height, he doesn’t project as a guy that can play the small-ball four role in the NBA the way that he did at Kansas. Jackson’s 6-foot-10 wingspan is relatively short — for comparison’s sake, Draymond Green has a 7-foot-2 wingspan and Kawhi Leonard has a 7-foot-3 wingspan — and his slender frame makes it hard to project just how much more muscle mass his body can hold.

    Put another way, Jackson can guard twos and threes — and potentially ones — at the next level, but he’s not guarding fours. He’s going to be playing a position where he either needs to be an knockdown shooter or capable of creating in isolation in the half court, and Jackson scored just 0.609 points per possession in isolation as a freshman, the 23rd percentile, despite being guarded predominantly by college four-men on a team with three three-point snipers around him.

    It begs the question: Is he ever going to be great at anything on the offensive end of the floor?

    And that’s before you factor in that he turned 20 years old in February; he’s older than one-and-done freshmen drafted in 2016.

    The other issue you’ll hear mentioned with Jackson is that he has bad habits defensively and he gets beaten on the dribble more easily than you would expect from someone with his athleticism. The bad habits — specifically, the tendency to lose focus on who he is guarding — seems to me to be a result of Jackson trying a little too hard to be a playmaker off the ball, and getting beaten off the dribble has a lot to do with his overactive, choppy feet.

    Neither are all that concerning to me, particularly when you factor in his intangibles on that end of the floor. Those issues can be coached away, and there’s not better place for that to happen than in the NBA.

    NBA COMPARISON: The easy — and lazy — comparison to make is Andrew Wiggins, who is another 6-foot-8, freakishly-athletic small forward to come out of Kansas, and it’s not the worst comparison I’ve ever seen. The two have similar physical tools and question marks about their jump shots. The problem with that comparison, however, is that the things that make Jackson so intriguing are precisely the skills that Wiggins struggles with.

    Jackson is a tough, versatile defender and a fiery competitor that is well-rounded offensively: unselfish with promising court vision and a knack for making instinctual, read-and-react plays. His ceiling is as a player that can average more than 20 points, act as a secondary ball-handler and play maker while potentially being a shutdown defender for twos and threes. Andre Igoudala, before he landed with Golden State and turned into a role player in the twilight of his career, had a seven-year stretch where he averaged 12 points, five boards, five assists and 1.5 steals, scoring more than 17 points per game in four of those seasons.

    OUTLOOK: The way I see it, Josh Jackson is the second-best prospect in this draft. I’d draft him over Lonzo Ball, and I think the gap between Markelle Fultz and Josh Jackson is smaller than the gap between Josh Jackson and Ball, who would be third on my draft board.

    Jackson has some issues that need fixing — his jump shot, his tendency to be a space cadet defensively — and there are some valid concerns about his age and the fact that his slender frame may not be able to hold all that much more weight, but those issues are coachable. What isn’t coachable, however, is his competitiveness, his intensity, his unselfishness, his instincts and his ability to read the game and be a playmaker, both offensively and defensively.

    He’s a gifted athlete that is going to fight — quite possibly in the literal sense — for the team that he’s on. If he puts in the time to develop his jumper, his body and his focus on the defensive side of the ball, I don’t think it’s out of the question that he could average 25 points, five boards and five assists as a shutdown wing defender.

    • LakerTom (Publisher) 10:08 AM on May 29, 2017 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      I think the Lakers made their decision whom to draft the minute they won the #2 pick. Lonzo Ball to the Lakers is just too perfect a fit for the Lakers to gamble it away on De’Aaron Fox, Josh Jackson, or any of the other prospects in this summer’s draft. The workouts they hold for Ball and other players will just be for confirmation and necessary due diligence.

      Everything you hear about them considering Fox, Jackson, or even Fultz is just a smokescreen to keep other team’s from knowing what the Lakers are planning. The last thing Magic and Rob publicly want is Boston or Philly seeing the Lakers desperately coveting Lonzo Ball. They want to keep other teams, especially Boston and Philly, uncertain as to what they will do.

      We’re going to hear nothing but how tough a decision the Lakers have right up to the point where they breath a big sigh of relief when Boston or Philly takes Fultz and the Lakers can grab Lonzo Ball, who will join Brandon Ingram as the team’s two untouchable young players.

  • LakerTom (Publisher) 9:43 AM on May 29, 2017 Permalink |  

    Draft workouts continue this morning at Lakers 

    • LakerTom (Publisher) 10:26 AM on May 29, 2017 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Guess Memorial day is not a holiday for Lakers draft prospects. Would love to hear how Jordan Bell did. I think he could be a great small ball center for Lakers. Great shot blocker who can also defend the pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop.

  • LakerTom (Publisher) 9:28 AM on May 29, 2017 Permalink |  

    Happy Memorial Day, Lakerholics! 

    • DJ2KB24

      DJ2KB24 10:19 AM on May 29, 2017 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Just watched Hacksaw Ridge. What our Service women and men go through is unimaginable. SALUTE!

    • LakerTom (Publisher) 12:25 PM on May 29, 2017 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      A day to celebrate, honor, and remember all of those whe sacrifice so much for all of us.
      And to pray for peace, freedom, and goodness to prevail over war, tyranny, and hatred..

  • LakerTom (Publisher) 9:11 AM on May 29, 2017 Permalink |  

    2017 NBA Draft: Celtics, Sixers could swap picks, per new report 

    The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers could swap picks during next month’s NBA Draft. The Celtics are reportedly interested in Kansas wing Josh Jackson, who is projected to go No. 3 overall in most mock drafts. 

    If the trade were to go down, the Sixers could select Lonzo Ball or Markelle Fultz with the No. 1 overall pick (via Celtics) while sending either Jahlil Okafor or Dario Saric and the No. 3 pick to Boston. It’s important to note that there’s also chatter of Boston trading their No. 1 overall pick for a veteran all-star. Therefore, the Celtics-Sixers swap is mere speculation at this stage. The 2017 NBA Draft is on June 22.

    NBA insider Bill Simmons, who has close ties to the Celtics organisation, reckons the potential trade would make a ton of sense for both Boston and Philadelphia. “Philly is the team I keep looking at. So Philly’s three. Philly moves up to one and they get Fultz or Lonzo (Ball). Probably Fultz. You put Fultz with Ben Simmons and Embiid and that’s it. If you keep Embiid and Simmons healthy, those are your three guys for the next 10 years.

    2017 NBA Draft: Josh Jackson to Boston Celtics?

    “So if they love Fultz, and I don’t know if they do, would you offer the number three pick, (Dario) Saric, who you don’t need because you have Ben Simmons coming, and the Lakers pick next year to move up two spots? That Lakers pick might not be a great pick, because they’re going to try to get better this summer. Is that too much for that pick?” Simmons speculated in Ep. 215 of the Bill Simmons Podcast.

    A few days after Lonzo Ball refused to work out for the Boston Celtics, ESPN reported that the UCLA standout has shown preliminary interest in playing for the Philadelphia 76ers. Of course, the Sixers could struggle to pair Ball and Simmons together since the latter is expected to play Point Guard in his rookie season. “League sources said the concern regarding the Ball-Sixers link is the organization’s plan to feature forward Ben Simmons, the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft, in a ball-dominant, point-forward role next season,” NBA insider Chris Haynes wrote in his report published recently.

    Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers could still wind up with Lonzo Ball if the Sixers were to select Markelle Fultz with the No. 1 overall pick (provided they trade up in the draft). The Lakers are reportedly mulling the possibility of drafting Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox, who outplayed Ball and led his team to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tourney.

    • LakerTom (Publisher) 9:21 AM on May 29, 2017 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      When you think about it, the Celtics and Sixers swapping picks makes good sense. Fultz is the best fit among the top-5 players for the Sixers and could form a dynamic Big 3 with Simmons and Embiid. Meanwhile, if the Celtics really believe in Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley as their backcourt of the future, Josh Jackson also be their best fit among the top-5 players. The only question is how much can Danny Ainge extract from the Sixers to make the swap.

      Of course, the Sixers could decide to take Lonzo Ball #`1 instead of Markelle Fultz, which could help or hurt the Lakers depending on your opinions of Ball and Fultz. Offsetting the possible satisfaction of wrecking the Lakers plans would be the fear of Fultz turning out to be a superstar and Ball struggling. Bottom line, your could easily argue that Fultz to Sixers, Ball to the Lakers, and Jackson to the Celtics are each team’s best fit for top-5 player.

  • LakerTom (Publisher) 9:04 AM on May 29, 2017 Permalink |  

    Byron Scott thinks Lakers are taking risk not trading for Paul George now 

    The Los Angeles Lakers can set their sights on a very smooth summer with the No. 2 pick in hand. Gone is the pressure to make something happen immediately, instead giving the freshly instilled front office a chance to play their first hand slowly. The No. 2 pick is enough excitement to hold off the fan base for just a bit longer.

    The Lakers now have young talent galore, with three lottery picks in hand and a fourth on the way. They also have interesting young role players like Larry Nance, Jr. and Jordan Clarkson as well. Put it together and LA has a fairly nice platter for a team like the Indiana Pacers to pick from if they feel the answer to their looming Paul George problem is to make it another team’s problem to solve.

    That’s what Byron Scott suggested to Mark Willard of Fox Sports San Diego, saying that he thinks the Lakers want to make a splash this summer instead of risking George winding up somewhere else:

    All signs seem to point to the Lakers wanting to take their time with so many options in front of them. Trade rumors will likely heat up in the days leading up to the NBA Draft on June 22, but Los Angeles is in a position of leverage with George. Magic Johnson has made it clear the Lakers view the summer of 2018 – the year George can walk from Indiana as an unrestricted free agent – as the big opportunity they’re preparing for.

    Jeanie Buss has also gone on the record about how important the franchise feels about being patient and developing their young talent. That seems to go against what Scott suggests, preferring the team cashes out on the potential of their young assets for the assured services of George for at least one season.

    There’s some merit to getting player to his destination and giving him a reason to stay after the final year of his contract expires, but then there’s Dwight Howard, on the other hand. Moreover, reports indicate that George’s camp prefers the Lakers retain their talent for him to make the move as a free agent instead of diminishing their potential by gutting the team to acquire him one season early.

    Another day, another George to the Lakers story to pass the time over.

    • LakerTom (Publisher) 9:34 AM on May 29, 2017 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      What happens with Paul George depends on what Indiana decides to do and there is good reason to expect they are going to try and trade Paul George this summer as that is likely their best opportunity to get the best deal. Indy can’t afford to let PG walk as a free agent summer of 2018 and their leverage will only decrease if they wait until next season to make a deal.

      So much as the Lakers would like to preserve assets and sign PG in the summer of 2018, chances are they will have to consider changing course depending on which teams Indy may be talking to. Of course, PG can give the Lakers great leverage by advising other teams he is still going to sign with Lakers as a free agent. That’s what I would put my money on happening.

      Think about it. If PG wants to come to the Lakers AND make sure the team keeps the core of their young talent, then he can force a trade to the Lakers, which makes a lot more sense than wasting another frustrating year in Indy. Randle, Clarkson, and #28 pick will be best that Indy can get and would be worth it for the Lakers to get PG.

      • DJ2KB24

        DJ2KB24 10:12 AM on May 29, 2017 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        I think that would be a good trade for both teams LT.

      • keen observer

        keen observer 11:11 AM on May 29, 2017 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        If the Lakers can pull off a Cousins type of deal, which to me would be D’Angelo and #28 for PG, with guarantees from PG that he will sign a long term deal, I tend to agree with B Scott. Adding Randle to that deal would be over paying. Obviously, they would have to make the salaries work out, which would mean Deng or Mozgov in the deal. It won’t happen.

        • LakerTom (Publisher) 11:22 AM on May 29, 2017 Permalink | Log in to Reply

          I think it would be foolish to trade Russell to get George if PG tells other teams he will not re-sign with them. Randle, Clarkson, and #28 pick are better than Indy could get from even the Celtics, who don’t need to take a risk on PG. They have the assets to get Butler and may well get Hayward in free agency. Lakers should not give up any of their top 3 assets -- Ingram, Russell, or #2 pick. They can get PG without them if they have to. We have the leverage.

  • LakerTom (Publisher) 10:18 AM on May 28, 2017 Permalink |  

    “We’re changing the Game” w/ professional basketball’s first 4pt shot @thebig3 

  • LakerTom (Publisher) 10:03 AM on May 28, 2017 Permalink |  

    Happy Birthday, Jerry! 

  • LakerTom (Publisher) 9:48 AM on May 28, 2017 Permalink |  

    Lakers Draft Primer with NBA Scout Mike Schmitz 

    • LakerTom (Publisher) 10:01 AM on May 28, 2017 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Schmitz likes Lonzo for the Lakers although he has some concerns. He also thinks he is a great fit for the Lakers with Luke’s system and having a backcourt mate who can create his own shot and play off the ball like D’Angelo Russell. He feels Lonzo and D’Angelo together could be a dynamic point guard because they complement each other’s games. Lakers just need to surround them with shooters.

      Defensively, Schmidt thinks Ball and Russell may have some difficulty at the start. He thinks Ball has quick feet, good hops, and positional size and length but is not a negative as a defender. He believes his anticipation off the ball is among the best in the league. He will get a lot of steals, is great on close outs, and will get a good share of steals and blocks. Needs some man defense tutoring.

      Schmitz doesn’t think Ball will be the guy to take the last shot and needs to be on a roster with players who can create their own shot. He also thinks the Lakers need to surround him with shooters to open up the floor for him. Schmidt likes that the Lakers have 3 guys in Russell, Ingram, and Randle who can make plays and are great in transition.

      Some fun questions discussed. Is Lonzo really a shooting guard who gets a lot of assists? He is a great catch-and-shoot 3-point shooter and a great slasher and back door cutter. He has a great killer instinct despite seeming to be unemotional. But it’s his leadership and floor vision that make him a point guard.

      Good discussions also about Josh Jackson and his great defensive potential and whether he can be a shooter. Strong believer in free throw shooting percentage being a strong indicator of NBA potential as a3-point shooter. Classifies him as a streaky shooter, like many strong athletes are.

    • tate793

      tate793 1:47 PM on May 28, 2017 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Did I read somewhere that Lonzo is only a .670 free throw shooter?

      • Magicman (Editor)

        Magicman (Editor) 2:02 PM on May 28, 2017 Permalink | Log in to Reply

        Yes but he doesn’t get there a lot. Averaged less than 3 FTA per game.

        As a team, the Lakers have not improved in that area.

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