Lakers Rumors: Why Robert Sacre Making the Final Roster Is a Lock

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistOctober 25, 2012

Oct. 10, 2012; Ontario, CA, USA;  Portland Trail Blazers forward J.J. Hickson (21) guards Los Angeles Lakers center Robert Sacre (50) in the first half of the game at the Citizens Business Bank Arena.  Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Robert Sacre, the NBA's 2012 version of Mr. Irrelevant, suddenly finds himself on the cusp of relevancy with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Just like Isaiah Thomas of the Sacramento Kings before him, Sacre, the last pick of the 2012 NBA draft, has refused to let his 60th overall selection impede his path to professional success.

And according to Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com, that perseverance has given him a legitimate opportunity to earn a roster spot with the Lakers:

"It was just 19 seconds into the Lakers' first preseason game against Golden State this month when Sacre, the last pick of the 2012 NBA draft, looked at the four All-Stars he was sharing the court with, looked at the rim and let the 12-footer fly. 

"He missed the shot, but with less than one week left before the Lakers have to make final cuts on Monday, Sacre finds himself with a legitimate shot to make the team."

Though anything that has been officially divulged only points to Sacre having a "shot" at making the team, it's time to stop mincing words and crown him Los Angeles' 14th, and likely final, man.

Not only does Sacre provide the Lakers with another big body, but he's been working his tail off in practice and, most importantly, producing while on the court.

Through seven preseason games, the big man out of Gonzaga has averaged an impressive 6.7 points, five rebounds and 1.3 blocks in just over 25 minutes of action. His 58.4 percent clip from the field is also indicative of his efficiency and superior shot-selection.

Sacre's latest performance against DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers, one of the Association's most talented bigs, was nothing short of spectacular either. 

The nearly undrafted rookie played 35 minutes, dropped 13 points on six-of-nine shooting from the field while grabbing seven total rebounds, two steals and swatting away one shot.

With a performance like that, the Lakers can let his five turnovers slide. After all, Dwight Howard had the same amount of mishaps himself only one game ago.

But are we actually to believe that he can beat out Andrew Goudelock and Darius Johnson-Odom for what the Lakers want to be their 14th and final spot?

Yes, we are.

I could tell you that Los Angeles already has plenty of wings, which they do, but again, the Lakers' decision will stretch well-beyond his size.

And into the realm of performance, where Sacre also has the clear edge.

Goudelock is averaging 2.8 points on 31.3 percent shooting for the preseason, while Johnson-Odom hasn't faired much better, posting just three points and a 42.9 percent conversion rate.

Underwhelming? You bet.

What's also underwhelming is their usage.

Johnson-Odom has appeared in just two preseason bouts while Goudelock has played in five, and neither one has averaged more than eight minutes per contest when they've seen the light of the floor.

Sacre, on the other hand, has played in all seven, started in six and received an ample amount of burn alongside players like Steve Blake, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash and, when possible, Howard himself.

Could this be a mere coincidence or are the Lakers attempting to evaluate how Sacre fairs—dare I say it—within their rotation?

I'm inclined to go with the latter. Los Angeles wouldn't be giving Sacre an extensive look during exhibitions if it didn't believe there wasn't something worth watching.

And there is, and the Lakers have been watching, to the point where head coach Mike Brown voiced his pleasure, after unsuccessfully downplaying it, of course:

"He's learning, he's growing," Lakers coach Mike Brown said. "He did some good things and he didn't do some good things. So, it's both. But I'll tell you what, the experience that he's getting now is invaluable for him. He's got a big body, he's not afraid, he's going to play hard, he's pretty smart for a rookie. But he's playing with some guys who are helping him out too. They're helping him look pretty good out there and he's taking advantage of it." 

No, Brown didn't come out and say it, but he didn't have to.

Sacre, regardless of how far he still has to go, has exceeded even the loftiest of expectations one could set for the last pick of the draft.

His defense has been outstanding, he's used his 260-pound body to outwork other bigs for rebounds, he's picked up on the early workings of the Princeton offense, moved well without the ball and he hasn't been afraid to shoot, and subsequently score.

He's even drawn plenty of plays from his teammates, like fellow post fixture Gasol.

Has his free-throw shooting been shaky?

At a shade over 54 percent yes, but keep in mind this is a guy who shot better than 74 percent from the charity stripe in college, so those shots will eventually fall.

If anything, the Lakers should be thrilled that his free-throw shooting—aside from passing out of the post—has been his greatest weakness.

It shows that he is, in fact, worth watching, that he is worth developing, that he has the ability to mesh with his teammates and that he ultimately will be worth the cost of a roster spot.

McMenamin even goes as far as writing that Sacre "has made himself a part of the team already," which is quite fitting.


Because he isn't going anywhere.



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