Lakers Laying the Foundation: Robert Upshaw


The Lakers disappointing year started in the off season, with the front office making consistently poor decisions regarding player personnel.

While some players may be gone for good, the Lakers still have a chance to fix one of their more glaring errors from this offseason: their mishandling of young seven footer, Robert Upshaw. While this series has focused on young players with no prior history in the Lakers organization, Upshaw has already been linked to the team for quite some time.

Inexplicably, after signing Robert Upshaw to a contract prior to the season, the Lakers decided to release him in favor of Robert Sacre. This move has proven to be as foolish as it seemed at the time, as Sacre has failed to play anything nearing meaningful minutes, despite the lack of true centers on the team.

Most people assumed that this decision was either made due to off-court concerns, or the idea that Sacre was more ready to contribute in the immediate future. However, as Upshaw has stayed out of trouble since his arrival in LA, and Sacre has failed to even crack the rotation for the Lakers, both of those points are now moot.

Fortunately Robert Upshaw is still easily obtainable for the purple and gold

Fortunately Robert Upshaw is still easily obtainable for the purple and gold, as he is currently playing for their D-League affiliate the Los Angeles D-Fenders.

Since being sent to the minor league, Upshaw has averaged six points and five rebounds in only sixteen minutes of playing time per game. Despite his rather pedestrian stat line, the center has flashed impressive potential on both ends of the floor.

In the NBA Robert Upshaw’s primary responsibility will be to block shots and protect the rim. As a legitimate seven footer with a wingspan of almost seven and a half feet, Upshaw would provide an immediate upgrade over Brandon Bass as a rim-protector off the bench. However, Upshaw has also shown offensive potential that very few players his size possess.

With solid touch around the basket, and a quickly improving jumpshot, Upshaw has the potential to develop into a truly special player. With his length and skill-set, Upshaw projects as a perfect addition to the Lakers young core, particularly as a front court partner to Julius Randle.

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Upshaw could provide the Lakers guards with an effective partner in the pick and roll, while also being able to step out and shoot the jumper to allow Randle room to work down low. His length could also help to make up for Randle’s defensive shortcomings, while providing the Lakers with a legitimate rebounding presence.

Yes, Upshaw is raw as ever, however, for him to reach his full potential, he needs invaluable NBA experience, something that he’s not getting in the D-League. Come to think of it, seeing how Byron Scott manages his rookie’s minutes, it’s unlikely that he’d see time anyways.

Regardless, the fact that Upshaw fits so well with the Lakers young core is important, as adding young talent may become more difficult for the Lakers in the future, due to the fact that several of their picks have been traded away.

Upshaw has the potential to develop into a starting center in the NBA, and the Lakers should be making his continued development a top priority. The Lakers would be foolish to allow a player of his caliber to languish in the D-League any longer, and should make an effort to clear a roster spot for him as quickly as possible.

Next: Lakers Laying the Foundation: Tony Wroten

Calling him up in the near future will allow him more time to grow as a player this year, as well as give him time to build chemistry with the rest of the Lakers core.