It's no secret that Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson usually has trouble finding minutes for his rookie players, but due to injuries to Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and more recently Sasha Vujacic, Jackson may have no other choice.
Vujacic sustained a concussion from an inadvertent elbow from Lamar Odom during practice Thursday. Vujacic is out indefinitely, and his injury adds to the Lakers' rash of physical woes before the regular season even starts.
Bynum is not expected to return until at least December, and no one is really sure if Bryant will miss any game time or not, but in either instance this may be the best time to give rookie forwards Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter a nice, long look.
Jackson hates to play rookies, but since he will likely be forced to tinker with the roster anyway, why not experiment a little with Ebanks and Caracter?
If Bryant is forced to sit and Vujacic misses extended time, there will be a gaping hole on the perimeter that guard Shannon Brown will not be able to fill alone.
With Vujacic out and Bryant hobbled Brown is the only other shooting guard on the roster, and even though newcomer Steve Blake can provide some relief, his attention should be focused on point guard duty.
In three preseason games Ebanks has averaged 6.3 points and 11 minutes per game, with his high of 10 points coming in a recent win against the Sacramento Kings.
Ebanks played 16 minutes against the Kings going 4-9 from the floor, and he looked fairly comfortable during the brief time he had on the floor.
Caracter has played roughly the same amount of minutes as Ebanks, but has only averaged 1.7 points and 3.3 rebounds in the Lakers' three preseason games.
Caracter will likely find minutes harder to come by since he essentially plays behind Pau Gasol, Odom and Theo Ratliff, but he has shown flashes in the post that suggest he could be effective in spurts.
Caracter has good footwork and natural rebounding instincts, which are complemented by a wide backside that is perfect for establishing position in the paint.
Jackson's low tolerance for rookies could pose some concerns considering Caracter's history of attitude problems, but so far his biggest problem has been avoiding fast food.
Caracter has struggled most of his career to keep his weight in check, and at 265 pounds he is the second heaviest player on the Lakers roster behind the injured Bynum.
Ebanks appears to be the safer bet to receive any extra playing time Jackson may dole out, and to be honest, Ebanks looks a little more advanced than Caracter at this early stage.
Ebanks is certainly more versatile than Caracter and his ability to defend the opposition on the perimeter or the post makes him the more logical choice to receive extended playing time.
Defense was Ebanks' strength at West Virginia and he has displayed solid defensive technique, discipline and footwork during his short intervals on the court.
Ebanks will not be counted on for any offensive production, but he has shown the ability to get to the rim with his dribble, and his perimeter jump shot has been better than advertised.
Any rookie is going to take lumps during their first season, but Ebanks and Caracter have a chance to gain valuable early experience albeit at the expense of some demoralizing injuries.
But if there is a silver lining in the Lakers purple and gold sky it may be the opportunity to give Ebanks and Caracter a shot to prove they can help the team when the games really matter.
Both have shown they have the ability to play, but the bigger question is, can Jackson cast aside his stubborn nature at least temporarily, and give Ebanks and Caracter a chance?