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Devin Ebanks Can Help the Lakers, But Will He Get the Chance?

Hadarii JonesSenior Writer ISeptember 7, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS - APRIL 03:  Devin Ebanks #3 of the West Virginia Mountaineers reacts in the first half against the Duke Blue Devils during the National Semifinal game of the 2010 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 3, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers' coach Phil Jackson hasn't garnered his reputation as the greatest basketball coach in the history of the NBA for his ability to develop rookies, so the prospects of forward Devin Ebanks making a major splash appear to be slim.

In fact, few people who follow the Lakers think Ebanks has a chance to earn much playing time at all this season unless it's in the NBA's developmental league.

The Lakers are a veteran team coming off back to back NBA championships; it's hard to picture Jackson changing his philosophy considering this is his final season and he has his roster from last year virtually intact.

Jackson has always been known to side with experience rather than youth, and this usually holds true regardless of a player's athleticism or talent, with few exceptions.

Steve Blake, Matt Barnes, and Theo Ratliff were the Lakers' major free agency signings; all three players come with varying degrees of NBA experience and all three figure to play prominent roles next season.

But if Ebanks can prove that he is truly as versatile as his summer league showing suggested, then Jackson may find that his presence could be very beneficial for the Lakers.

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Some people feel that Ebanks was a first round talent that fell to the second round due to questions about his offense; but if he were to be a role player for the Lakers, his scoring would not be necessary.

Ebanks has flashed a decent perimeter shot and the ability to score off the dribble better than anticipated, but any minutes he plays for the Lakers will be earned on the defensive end.

Los Angeles has numerous scoring options in players like Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, and Andrew Bynum, so unless Ebanks has some superior offensive talent lying dormant, he will never be asked to score.

But if Ebanks can become a consistent player on the defensive end, he will give the Lakers one of the league's most feared rotations of long, rangy, perimeter defenders.

Bryant, Ron Artest, Ebanks, and Matt Barnes are all between 6'6" and 6'9", and all except Ebanks have already proved themselves to be superior defensive players at the NBA level.

I'm not sure if there are to many teams that can boast a trio as defensively inclined on the perimeter as Barnes, Bryant, and Artest. If Ebanks can prove roster worthy he adds another body to the mix.

During Ebanks' time at West Virginia he was coach Bob Huggins' primary option when the Mountaineers needed a basket, but it was his defense which really set him apart.

Solid man to man defense is at a premium in the college ranks. Ebanks impressed with his sound fundamentals and understanding of basic man to man defensive principles.

Ebanks was quick enough to defend guards on the perimeter and strong enough to bang with more physical players in the paint.

Those attributes complement the talents of the Lakers' other long perimeter defenders perfectly. When you throw in the versatility of a player like Odom, there is the potential for a special defensive unit brewing in Los Angeles.

Whether or not Ebanks can be a part of that rotation remains to be seen, but is it unrealistic to think there is at least a slim chance of him seeing action this season?

Ebanks may have to cut his teeth in the NBDL; but if he can adjust to the speed of the NBA game on the defensive end, there is a possibility that he could be a mid-season addition to the roster.

And who knows?

Ebanks may use the Lakers' upcoming training camp to show that he deserves a spot on the Lakers roster right now. I wouldn't be too surprised if events played out that way.

Many Lakers' fans feel Ebanks was a steal in the second round of this year's draft; coach Jackson might just give him the opportunity to show their feelings were justified.

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