One of the best ways to add talent to an NBA roster, especially one that’s in desperate need of some young blood, is the NBA Draft. Less than a month away, the draft will provide the Los Angeles Lakers with the perfect opportunity to add a few fresh legs while addressing some of their biggest concerns.
Heading into the off-season, the Lakers have a potentially glaring need at the small forward spot. With veteran Metta World Peace a likely victim to the amnesty clause, journeyman Matt Barnes unlikely to be re-signed and youngster Devin Ebanks still struggling to prove that he’s ready for a starting role, small forward could end up being the Lakers’ biggest hole heading into the 2012-2013 season.
If the Lakers hope to find any considerable small forward talent during the 2012 NBA Draft, they’ll have to find a way to move up on draft day. Currently in possession of the last pick (No. 60 overall), it’ll cost them a pretty penny to move up all the way to the bottom of the first round. That, however, doesn’t mean that a move up isn’t completely out of the question.
On that note, my Lakers 2012 NBA Draft coverage continues; this time, with a profile analyzing one of the most intriguing prospects available: Michigan State forward Draymond Green.
A bit of a tweener, Green is a terrific talent who doesn’t seem to have an exact fit at the next level. Measuring in at about 6’6’’, 235 pounds, he doesn’t possess the size to match up with most NBA power forwards but doesn’t have the lateral quickness to stick with most NBA small forwards. Even when he does find a favorable matchup, his lack of elite athleticism can also put him at a disadvantage. Despite his physical limitations and lack of a true position, what Green does have is a motor that never stops running and an unrelenting drive to be the best player out on the court.
His tenacity out on the floor helps Green overcome most of his physical shortcomings. Although he’s only 6’6’’, he routinely rebounds over much taller power forwards and centers because he boxes out with unparalleled enthusiasm and consistently gets better positioning (10.6 rebounds per game in 2011-2012). On defense, he puts pressure on his opponents with daunting defense and plays passing lanes well. More than anything, his exceptionally-high basketball IQ and on-court smarts allow him to consistently outwork his competition.
On top of his incredible on-court work ethic, Green’s shooting is above-average for a small forward. With an outstanding mid-range jumper and the range to be a threat from beyond the arch in the NBA, Green commands the defense’s attention. During his senior season, he shot 44.9 percent from the field, including 38.8 from three-point land. Although he does struggle at times when he can’t set his feet for the shot, Green can be a knockdown shooter once he gets into a rhythm. He’s not going to be a consistent 20-point scorer at the next level (he averaged 16.2 points per game in 2011-2012), but Green has the shooting that the Lakers could definitely benefit from at the small forward spot.
The fact that Green possesses considerable shooting skills also allows him to open up passing lanes, which he excels at taking advantage of. He has terrific court vision and has proven himself to be a valuable facilitator when he has the ball in the post. After sucking in defenders when he gets the ball down low, Green finds open shooters on the perimeter with ease and is always looking to feed his teammates.
Green is also a terrific leader with the intangibles that all NBA teams look for in their draft picks. Whether it’s energizing his teammates at big moments in the game or pushing himself to get better off of the court, Green has the maturity that translates well when making the jump from college to the pros.
In a nutshell, the only things keeping Green from being a top 10 pick are his lack of size and underwhelming athleticism. While those attributes may force some teams to pass him up on draft day, others will certainly be keeping a close eye on him for his passion for the game and leadership skills. Green is a ferocious player who will do everything within his power to make it in the NBA, and his terrific basketball IQ and surprisingly sharp shooting will help him along the way.
Chances are slim that the Lakers will find a way to make a considerable move up in the draft order before June 28 rolls around. If they do, however, find a way to get themselves into a late first round slot, the Lakers would be wise to give Green a look.