Breaking down the Lakers' summer-league roster
No. 4 Derrick Caracter, forward/center, 6-9, 275 pounds, Texas El Paso, rookie
Outlook: Caracter, whom the Lakers selected with their 58th pick, said he dropped from 305 pounds to 277 after his career with the Miners because of more sleep and selective eating habits. He plans to decrease to 270 to show his conditioning isn't an issue, an area Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said he thought could improve. And Caracter hopes he can prove he's mature by listening to his teammates and staying out of trouble, a process that happened once he transferred from Louisville to UTEP.
No. 3 Devin Ebanks, forward, 6-9, 210, West Virginia, rookie
Outlook: Ebanks, whom the Lakers selected with their 43rd pick, appears to be the favorite to crack a roster spot. He helped the Mountaineers to their first Final Four since 1959 and the most wins in school history because of his lock-down defense and rebounding (a team-leading 8.1 per game). Kupchak also said he selected Ebanks in case Luke Walton's back doesn't fully heal next season.
No. 8 Gerald Green, forward, 6-8, 200, Gulf Shores Academy (Texas), sixth season
Outlook: He entered the 2005 NBA draft considered to be the next Tracy McGrady. But four years later, the 18th pick of the NBA draft has proved that winning the NBA Dunk Contest in 2007 does lead to job security. In his five-year career, Green has bounced from Boston (2005-2007), Minnesota (2007-2008), Houston (2008), Dallas (2008) and Lokomotiv Kuban of Russia (2009).
No. 31 Rob Kurz, forward, 6-9, 230, Notre Dame, third season
Outlook: Kurz showed promise, averaging 17.5 points and 10 rebounds per game last season with the NBA D-League's Fort Wayne Mad Ants, but he has little to show for his NBA experience. Kurz played 40 games in the 2008-2009 season for Golden State, but shot only 38.9% overall. He agreed to a non-guaranteed contract with Cleveland prior to the 2009-10 season, but the Cavaliers dumped him after the preseason. He signed with the Bulls in early April but never played a game before being waived June 30.
No. 7 Ibrahim Jaaber, guard, 6-2, 170, Pennsylvania, rookie
Outlook: The former Ivy League player of the year in 2007 and 2008 set the league's career record for steals (303) and finished third and second nationally during his junior and senior years, respectively. Yet, he went undrafted in 2007 and played for Detroit's summer league team before jumping to professional gigs in Greece, Italy and Belgium. Since then, NBA Draft Express believes that Jaabar has improved his perimeter shooting "enough to at least make him an option for NBA teams looking for an athletic defensive- minded backup." The Lakers could surely use one of those.
No. 34 Ben McCauley, forward, 6-9, 237, North Carolina State, rookie
Outlook: This is the second consecutive season McCauley has played on the Lakers' summer league team, averaging 11.8 points and 7.6 rebounds last year in five games. His game isn't solely defined by his presence. McCauley shot 47% from three-point range last season with Strasbourg IG in the French Pro A League, but the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ray Fittipaldo reports that NBA scouts told McCauley he needs to improve on his defense.
No. 36 Drew Naymick, center, 6-11, 235, Michigan State, third seasonOutlook: He finished his college career in 2008 as Michigan State's career leader in blocked shots (134), received little attention from NBA scouts and then played in Europe in the Spanish and Polish leagues. At least landing on the Lakers' summer league roster serves as a small victory for Naymick, considering he couldn't crack Indiana's squad last year. He'd be competing with Ebanks, Caracter and McCauley, three players that are already facing long odds in cracking a spot on a team with a full front line.
No. 32 Frank Robinson, guard, 6-4, 193, Cal State Fullerton, second season
Outlook: The former Cal State Fullerton standout may benefit from playing on the D-Fenders, the Lakers' minor league affiliate, this past season. NBA Draft Express credits Robinson's length, stretch and lateral quickness as qualities that make him a good defensive player. However, he's shown inconsistency with his perimeter shooting. Nonetheless, the D-Fenders coaching staff told the Daily Titan that Robinson emerged as a complete combo guard, defending the team's top player and becoming a reliable scoring option.
No. 15 Tyler Sanborn, center, 6-10, 270, Guilford College (N.C.), rookieOutlook: Sanborn was named the 2010 NCAA Division III player of the year after racking up 30 double-doubles and averaging 19.8 points, 14.1 rebounds and 2.0 blocks. Even though it remains unclear how that can translate into the NBA, he had at least scored pre-draft workouts with the Lakers, Memphis and Charlotte. What's perhaps most impressive is the journey Sanborn took to get to this point. The Charlotte Sports Examiner's Greg Jones notes that Sanborn entered his freshman year overweight and out of shape, improved his conditioning his sophomore year and then became Division III's best player his senior season.
No. 44 Courtney Sims, center, 6-11, 245, Michigan, fourth season
Outlook: Sims has had brief stints with Phoenix, Indiana and New York while bouncing around the D-League, something he's acknowledged has taken a mental toll. According to NBA Draft Express, he can create his own shot but struggles in staying disciplined on defensive rotations.
No. 2 D.J. Strawberry, guard, 6-5, 199, Maryland, fourth season
Outlook: When I interned at the Washington Times in 2007, Strawberry acknowledged to me he may have to take a circuitous route to the NBA because he was deemed to be only a defensive specialist at Maryland. Yet he entered that year's draft hoping NBA teams would want such a player, considering the way San Antonio's Bruce Bowen defended Cleveland's LeBron James in the 2007 NBA Finals, a feat the Mater Dei standout accomplished against James in high school. "A lot of teams are going to need a defensive player like me," Strawberry told me at the time.
It turns out Strawberry was right with his initial prediction. After the Suns selected him with the 57th pick -- and soon signing a two-year contract -- he was assigned to the Albuquerque Thunderbirds, beginning a pattern of quick turnover with various teams, including the Houston Rockets (2008), Fortitudo Bologna of Italy (2008-2010), the NBA D-League's Reno Bighorns (2010) and now the Lakers' summer league roster. Strawberry lacks consistency in his offensive game, but he could provide some defensive energy to the Lakers' backcourt.
-- Mark Medina
E-mail the Lakers blog at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: West Virginia forward Devin Ebanks tries to split the defense of Kentucky's Patrick Patterson (54) and DeMarcus Cousins during the Mountaineers' 73-66 victory over the Wildcats in the NCAA tournament's East Regional final. Credit: Jim McIsaac / Getty Images