5 Best Under-the-Radar Pickups in Mitch Kupchak's L.A. Lakers Reign

Vinny HardyCorrespondent IAugust 31, 2012

5 Best Under-the-Radar Pickups in Mitch Kupchak's L.A. Lakers Reign

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    The general manager of the Los Angeles Lakers. It's a high profile position for a high profile team as Mitch Kupchak can attest to.

    The only jobs that are comparable would be the general manager of the Dallas Cowboys, if Jerry Jones would ever relent, relinquish control, realize how valuable they are and hire one, and the New York Yankees where Brian Cashman holds the general manager position.

    Just like coaches and players, GMs can be on the receiving end of fanbase wrath. They catch heat and face more than their fair share of scrutiny and blame when things go bad.

    The only glaring difference is that Kupchak can pull his "I played the game at the highest level and you didn't" card on Cashman any time he wants. 

    Everyone remembers the acquisitions that made a splash.  Here are some of Kupchak's more subtle moves that still wound up being successful.

Lindsey Hunter

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    Hunter was the ultimate glue guy who provided vital intangibles to two NBA championship teams.

    The first one was with the Lakers. Kupchak brought Hunter into the fold via a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks on June 28, 2001.

    He only averaged 5.8 points and 1.6 assists in 19.7 minutes a game, but he shot .380 from three and provided his usual defense, professionalism and good basketball IQ at key times throughout the season.

    It didn't go unnoticed.

Trevor Ariza

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    As always it's championship or bust in Los Angeles. Trevor Ariza helped the Lakers hang a banner after they traded for him early in the 2007 season.

    He only started 20 games, but he appeared in all 82. He averaged 8.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.7 steals in helping L.A. beat Orlando in five games.

    Ariza was a good example of a young player making the most of the minutes he had, knowing his role and finding a way to contribute.

Shannon Brown

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    Like them or hate them, the Lakers always seem to have role players who have the best success of their career while they're in Los Angeles.

    Shannon Brown wasn't a household name before his time in L.A., but his timely athletic plays made us all take note.

    In his two seasons with the Lakers, he averaged 8.4 points a game and a shade over two assists per contest and was instrumental in helping L.A. defeat Boston in seven games in the 2010 NBA Finals.

Brian Shaw

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    Every team needs a coach on the floor.  B-Shaw handled those duties with ease.

    His familiarity with Shaq was a big help as well.  They were teammates on the Orlando Magic, which was swept by Houston in the 1995 Finals.

    Together, they rebounded and were able to three-peat with the Lakers from 2000-02.

    After his playing days ended, he smoothly transitioned to the bench and became an assistant for Phil Jackson.  Many thought he would become the next head coach instead of Mike Brown.

    He is currently an assistant on the Pacers' staff.

Mitch Richmond

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    Mitch Richmond is the epitome of under the radar. Even in the height of his popularity when his name was listed second in Run TMC, he was still often overshadowed by the more colorful personalities of Tim Hardaway and Chris Mullin.

    Then he went to Sacramento and busted his behind for an awful team for years, consistently giving it his all every night even though his team was brutally overmatched.

    Mitch Kupchak signed Richmond to a free agent deal on July 20, 2001.  At age 36, he was well past his prime.

    He played in 64 games and averaged 4.1 points per game. The Lakers swept the Nets in the Finals, and Richmond retired after the season.

    Sometimes watching older players chase their first ring late in their career is irritating. Mitch Richmond was an exception. If anyone deserved one it was definitely him.