Grading Los Angeles Lakers' Draft Day Decisions

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Grading Los Angeles Lakers' Draft Day Decisions
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Ryan Kelly of the Duke Blue Devils is the newest member of the Los Angeles Lakers

During the 2013 NBA Draft, were the Los Angeles Lakers focused more on their No. 48 overall pick or the growing conviction that Dwight Howard will be leaving town?

Recent reports from ESPN's Chris Broussard seem to imply that the big man the Lakers have promised their future to isn't so excited about the offer. Forget the extra $30 million L.A. can pay him over a five-year, $118 million agreement, Dwight wants out.

In any case, GM Mitch Kupchak grabbed Duke center Ryan Kelly at the No. 48 spot, just before the clock struck midnight Thursday. 

Kelly missed a good chunk of his senior season with a foot injury (don't worry, he already had it operated on), but was able to make an impact when he returned. HIs best performance came in his first game back from the injury, when he torched the Miami Hurricanes for 36 points and hauled in seven rebounds.

As you can see from his performance against the Hurricanes, Kelly has a well-rounded skill set. Throughout the video you see him score off the dribble, hit threes from multiple points around the perimeter and charge up the Cameron Indoor crowd in the win.  

Unfortunately, Kelly's scoring magic did not carry over into the NCAA tournament. Brian failed to eclipse double-digits in scoring in any of the four March Madness games the Blue Devils played in 2013. 

Kelly is listed as a power forward, but at 6'11" is a threat to score from most parts of the floor. His combination of length and shooting ability makes him a better fit for Mike D'Antoni's offensive system than a big man with limited shooting range. 

His fit with D'Antoni's scheme has to be the most attractive draw that brought Kelly to L.A.

Kelly has potential to star as a system role player, and he should be able to learn a lot about having an inside-out post game from the veteran Pau Gasol. Although he has proven he can hit the three ball in college, he will have to learn many more offensive intricacies to take his scoring game to the professional level, especially because of his size.

One more positive for Kelly is that he has a high basketball IQ, and played four seasons under the legendary Coach Krzyzewski. He and Kobe Bryant have this in common, as Coach K has spent time with the U.S. Olympic team training Mamba and crew. 

Kelly's biggest weaknesses, similar to Pau, are defense and rebounding. For the Lakers, both of those assets are at a premium right now, especially with the heightening fear that Dwight is heading out. On the flip side, if D12 does indeed head for a new city, Kelly's position on the depth chart is advanced right out of the gate. 

In a time when the Lakers contract situation will not allow them to do much in free agency, making a quality pick (even as late as at No. 48) was critical. The Lakers don't have extra money to spend on bringing in experienced talent, but for rookie contract money they may have found a serviceable piece in Kelly. 

At the end of the day, the Lakers' potential to improve was severely limited by their draft position, which they owe to a trade for Steve Nash. Kupchak was hamstrung on Thursday by his second-round position. 

However, he seems to have found a useful piece from a championship-calibur program.

While Laker fans anxiously wait to hear about Dwight's decision, they should take solace in the fact that their franchise made something out of nothing and added an athlete who figures to see some floor time. 

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Are we saying sayonara after just one season?

Despite a complete lack of sexiness surrounding a mid-second-round pick, I like what the Lakers have done in adding a lengthy shooter who can handle the ball and spread the floor. At least they are sticking to D'Antoni's guns now that Dwight is rumored to be saying farewell. 

 

Ryan Kelly Draft Grade for the L.A. Lakers: B

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