Every player needs something to work on. No player comes out perfect out of high school. LeBron James needed 3-point range and defense. Kobe Bryant needed 3-point range and defense. Kevin Garnett needed more strength and defense. All of these guys were drafted at the ages of 17-19, and worked on their games. They were all tremendous lottery picks.
People forget that this year’s crop of lottery picks is extraordinarily young. Fans are so enamored with Andrew Wiggins‘ potential, that they overlook his percentages finishing in the paint and his ball-handling ability from the perimeter. Jabari Parker just needs to refine his touch and work on his defense. Joel Embiid, simply needs to get healthy and the rest will develop.
We’re looking at what players may drop to the Lakers at #7. If we think about how talented they are in terms of size, athleticism, skills, and intangibles, they could hypothetically be franchise players.
Let’s take a look at Zach LaVine. He has experience playing point guard from his high school days. His jumpshot is more refined than most of the players projected to be in the lottery, including Marcus Smart and Tyler Ennis. So, why is he projected out of the lottery? He has issues defensively and doesn’t like facing contact in the paint. He’s willing to attack the basket. He has the ball-handling to get into the painted area. So, what I’m reading into this is, he needs strength and needs to work on defense? Those are the two attributes that all rookies work on coming into the NBA.
People overlook that he was a senior out of a small school, Weber State. He fell in the draft because he “didn’t have as much upside” and “played a lower level of competition.” He’s one of the best young point guards in the NBA.
Think Randolph is a great finisher in the paint? Check out his shot chart.
He’s an average finisher in the paint at best. You would think he shoots 65%-70% in the painted area, well above his average.
Randle himself needs to work on defense and his mid-range shot. He has shown glimpses of his mid-range shot in high school. He lost 20lbs. to help with his quickness, explosiveness, and lateral movement. He’s working out three times a day and eating right.
So, why can’t he be a franchise player as well?
Analytics are tremendous tools in measuring a player’s success. It puts facts into something palatable and tangible. What isn’t tangible is a player’s heart, desire, and work ethic. Both Zach LaVine and Julius Randle have tremendous physical tools, athleticism, and skill level, especially at their respective age of 19.
So, why not just let them develop? They may surprise you.