The Lakers couldn’t have gone wrong picking at No. 2, choosing between Jahlil Okafor and D’Angelo Russell. It will be three to five years before we know if the Lakers made the smarter choice, but there was not a bad one.
However, the polished Okafor was always more likely to be the better rookie. He showed some of that off against the Lakers in a summer league game Saturday, scoring 19 points (on 6-of-14 shooting), grabbing 11 rebounds and dishing out 3 assists, leading the Sixers in all three categories.
Once again, check out the patience, court awareness and footwork on this play.
Watch highlights of Karl-Anthony Towns impressive first Summer League game
You can see where Karl-Anthony Towns has the chance to be special.
At moments he looked like what he is — a rookie in his first Summer League game, adjusting to a new style of play — but in parts of his debut against the Lakers Friday night you could see it. With some of the shots and passing, the way ne moves, there is the potential for him to be a real franchise cornerstone in Minnesota. He shot 4-of-10 for 11 points.
In his Summer League debut, Robert Upshaw went out and battled, he stood toe-to-toe with No. 1 pick Karl-Anthony Towns. While Towns had an impressive first Summer League game, the shot-blocking Upshaw got him once and finished the night with three blocks, two points, and six rebounds, playing 12 minutes.
That and what the Lakers saw in practices for Summer League is enough — they will bring Upshaw into training camp and he will get a shot to make the roster.
Chris Haynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (and a Fresno guy, where Upshaw is from), broke the news. This will be a two-year deal with a partial guarantee the first year and no guarantee the second year, reports Baxter Holmes of ESPN, which means this is a training camp invite where the 7’2″ will get a chance to prove he should make the roster.
The Lakers will start Roy Hibbert at center and bring Robert Sacre in behind him, plus they are pretty stacked at the four spot with Julius Randle, Brandon Bass, Tarik Black and Larry Nance. The Lakers don’t need to sign another big for depth, so Upshaw is going to need to prove to the team he is worth keeping around to develop.
And that he has got his head screwed on correctly.
Potential was never the question for Upshaw — last season while at Washington he led the NCAA in blocked shots — but his off-the-court issues had him kicked off two college teams before he turned pro. Washington cut him loose mid-season last year. Those issues are the reason he went undrafted — no team even took a second-round gamble on him.
Upshaw has the tools to be a defensive and rebounding machine at the NBA level. However, he has a lot of work to do on his conditioning, the offensive side of his game, and he has to prove to Lakers brass he can be trusted.