Lakers Now

Round-the-Clock Purple and Gold

« Previous Post | Lakers Now Home | Next Post »

Devin Ebanks valued experience with Bakersfield

With a pack of reporters surrounding his locker, Lakers forward Devin Ebanks plopped into his chair wearing a sweat-soaked T-shirt.

"I'm ready," Ebanks said. "I'm in game shape."

Only a day since the Lakers recalled him from the NBA Development League where he spent nearly two weeks playing for the Bakersfield Jam, Ebanks wasn't wasting any time. He spent a good portion before the Lakers' eventual 109-87 victory Sunday against the New York Knicks playing one-on-one against backup point guard Steve Blake in the hopes that he'd be ready in case Coach Phil Jackson put him into the lineup. He wound up spending the entire game sitting on the bench, but that doesn't mean Ebanks wasted his time. The Lakers recalled him because forward Matt Barnes tore a lateral meniscus in his right knee and is expected to remain sidelined for the next eight weeks following Tuesday's surgery.

In addition to giving Kobe Bryant more time at small forward and the likes of Ron Artest, Luke Walton and Shannon Brown receiving an increased role, Jackson plans to give the rookie Ebanks an opportunity, possibly even tonight when the Lakers (27-11) host the Cleveland Cavaliers (8-29).

"His game is probably at par," Jackson said of Ebanks, who played in 15 games this season for the Lakers and averaged 2.9 points in 6.4 minutes per game. "He's probably playing at a good level and his activity level's good. There's some things he's forgotten, or the nuances, in the last two weeks or so. But he'll be fine."

That endorsement speaks volumes considering Jackson doesn't think highly of rookies, often comparing them to whale waste. Instead, Jackson described Ebanks as a "real athletic kid who can help us out in certain situations."

Ebanks much preferred this spotlight than his six-game stint with the Jam where he averaged 27.7 minutes, 16.0 points and 7.7 rebounds, including 25- and 26-point performances in his last two contests. His Twitter account revealed his open wonderment about what there is to do in Bakersfield, his joking that there was nothing to do on New Year's Eve in Orem, Utah, where he played against the Utah Flash on New Year's Day and then spent a rare off day back in Los Angeles. And Ebanks acknowledged that the change in lifestyle served him well.

"It definitely is an eye-opener," Ebanks said. "It makes you stay humble, especially when you come back. Having a taste of that, you just want to work harder and stay in the NBA."

It's not guaranteed that the Lakers will keep him after this season. But so far, Ebanks has taken the right steps. Jackson asked him to sharpen up on rotations and to familiarize himself more with the nuances of the triangle offense. And after the Bakersfield stint, Ebanks reported that Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak had provided a positive review.

"He said I did pretty well," Ebanks said of Kupchak. "He was impressed with my progress."

The Lakers may  find out how on that translates to their own games fairly soon.

-- Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at

Comments () | Archives (16)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Great video LRob! Compare that to the treatment Wade got in the finals, and it confirms my beliefs that the Miami/Dallas series was rigged.

By C.A. Clark for Silver Screen and Roll
Another great article on Drew that deserves to be read by all. Here is complete text:
If you take a glance around Lakers Nation today, Andrew Bynum is undoubtedly the story. That tends to happen when you are the player of the game in a 20 point beatdown of a fellow playoff team (even if that team does play in the East). It's quite likely to happen when you out-play an MVP candidate on both ends of the floor. And it certainly happens when the strong performance occurs in 10 less minutes of game time than possible, on account of getting thrown out of a game with two quick technical fouls. The most positive and negative factors from last night's game all involve the same guy, with the positive out-weighing the negative by quite a bit, so big Drew is the focus of a lot of analytical work today.
One such piece can be found on Forum Blue and Gold. I don't want to go into a whole lot of detail here, because I'd rather you click on through to see what they have to say, but the topics on display include: Andrew's maturation, his grasp of the offense and his ability to utilize his teammates more effectively on that end, Andrew's defensive impact, and how the slightly unorthodox nature of Bynum's off-season knee surgery might have restored some of Drew's athleticism as compared to last season.
It's that last part I want to elaborate on. One thing that has surprised us all is how quickly Drew seems to be rounding into form. Having borne witness to the "Andrew Bynum returns from injury" show a few times now, I think we were all expecting a repeat of prior episodes, which includes a warm up period that involves months, not weeks. Instead, Drew only took a few games to start showing the qualities that make us all drool at his potential, and with just 14 games under his belt, he's already playing at a level I wouldn't have dreamed of until post All-Star break. A big part of that complimentary discourse is a style of play I've never seen from Drew before.
That style, or perhaps mentality is more appropriate, is brute force. Put simple, Andrew Bynum is playing bigger than I can ever remember.
Andrew Bynum has always been big, and he's always used that size well to be successful. He isn't getting more dunks than in the past (in his breakout 2008 year, pre-Gasol, it seemed like 30% of the Lakers offense was a Bryant to Bynum alley-oop with another 65% being "give the ball to Kobe"). He has always used his size to get quality offensive looks with a large array of (sometimes) effective post moves. But so far this season, the one area in which he has been better than ever has been his ability to force better position by bullying his way to it.
One play from last night's game illustrates this new mentality perfectly. Bynum received the ball on the right block and, with Amar'e Stoudemire on his back, took a few dribbles, backed Amar'e all the way under the basket, turned and blasted a vicious one handed throwdown. Many people have rightfully pointed out that move because it displays a level of athleticism we haven't seen out of Drew for a couple seasons now. It brought back happy memories of all those dunks which announced Bynum as a player who possessed more than just potential. But forget for a second that the play displayed athleticism we haven't seen out of Drew in a while. Doesn't it also display a mentality out of Drew that we've never seen? Making comparisons between Bynum and another famously large center that won a few titles with the Lakers has always been "easy", but that play was straight out of the Shaquille O'Neal offensive textbook, something we haven't seen out of Drew unless "Get set up by Kobe for a strong flush" is included. ...
While the specific result of that play was the first we've seen Bynum create on his own, the mentality is not an isolated incident. Drew has done a fantastic job so far this season of not settling for post position. If he gets the ball 8 feet from the basket, he's closing it to four feet before taking a shot. If he gets it at 6 feet, he'll back his man down to three. If he gets it 4 feet away, dude is getting to the rim. Contrast that with prior years, in which Bynum was some combination of afraid, lazy, or unable to muscle his way closer to the basket, and the difference is quite clear. To be fair, in periods in which Bynum has been rolling, it hasn't mattered much. There have been occasions in past seasons when he has been just as unstoppable at eight feet as he would be at four feet. But now is not one of those times, because Drew still has not regained the height of his offensive touch, and yet he is quickly becoming the Lakers' most efficient offensive post option, all because he's turning those 8 foot hooks into four footers.
I have no idea whether Bynum has started playing more powerfully simply because his body is no longer limiting him from doing so, or whether this is the next step in the physical and mental maturation of a young big man, but either way, it is truly exciting news. Bynum will never match Shaq's power (and despite Shaq's amazing production for the franchise, I don't think any of us really want him to), but he doesn't need to. The truth is that Bynum's repertoire is already ahead of Shaq's in terms of the number of moves Drew can perform well. If he can marry that offensive polish with even a portion of Shaq's overwhelming power (and stay healthy for more than 1/2 a season at a time, of course), he might well make good on the threat he has posed (in varying degrees) since 2008, that of becoming the best offensive center in the game. Combined with a defensive presence which has been steadily increasing throughout his career, it's fair to say that we've never had better reason to be bullish on the prospects of Andrew Bynum's career.

Loving all the quotes guys!!!!!

- check out kobe bryants wired video on youtube vs the spurs for some hilarious action by kobe bryant.. clearly on drugs or something LOL.

Ebanks, I see so much potential within him. I hope both the rooks get playing time this week against the cavs and warriors. We got super lucky with our rookies, they are great.

Or maybe PJ is just preparing them for greatness like he's done with so many other players

MM - Don't know how you write so quickly, but love reading the blog and grats on being interesting unlike a lot of other bloggers out there who write way too much unnecessary information.

By Darius Soriano for Forum Blue and Gold
Here is another terrific article about Drew filled with new info. Here is the complete text:
When discussing Andrew Bynum, Lakers fans have always had to speak in tentative terms. The young big man has always shown flashes of what he could be, but when focusing on what he would be it’s never been a sure thing. And to a certain extent, it’s still not as the thought of him being unavailable due to the next ailment is an all too common thought amongst fans. That said, I’m going to ask people to forget the injuries for a second and focus on what we are actually seeing from the 23 year old behemoth, because what he’s showing us in his latest return from knee surgery is better than anything we’ve seen in the past.
Don’t get me wrong in what I’m saying here. Since Bynum’s break out year in 2008, he’s steadily shown a progression to his game that made it obvious he was becoming one of the great young prospects. The refinement of his offensive game was evident as he developed a number of very effective post moves and counters that often left defenders befuddled. So, in a sense, the knack for scoring and the polish exhibited in doing so isn’t really new. But, at the same time scoring is only one aspect of contributing to effective offense. In the past he wasn’t consistently playing in a way that promoted the best outcomes for the team. Like, for instance, he wasn’t always passing. A little bit less than a year ago, I wrote the following when evaluating Andrew Bynum and his black hole tendencies:
I think we all agree that Bynum is not using all aspects of our offense. And I too would like to see him pass more and utilize his teammates better. I think one of the reasons that our offense is not as efficient this season as it was last season is because Bynum has taken on a greater role within the offense and he’s not executing the finer details with as much precision as Gasol/Odom.
At the same time, though, I was still pretty confident that one day he’d start to show us an even greater understanding of operating within the Lakers’ offense:
That said, Bynum is still young and still learning. As he continues to establish himself as an offensive force, the double teams will come faster and force him to pass more. As he gains experience he’ll read defenses better, understand what the opposition’s strategy is against him, and become more patient. But it all comes in stages. Our young Center is learning and getting better each season. The passing will come as his development and maturation continues.
Well, I’m here to tell you that the day I was talking about seems to be here. Since Bynum’s return from knee injury he’s shown a patience and maturation to his game that really is a sight to see. He’s reading defenses better than at any point in his career and is making excellent passes on many possessions. Of the top of my head, I can count several plays he’s made in the past several games that he wouldn’t (couldn’t?) have made last year. A brief example is a diagonal pass out of the hub of the Triangle to Derek Fisher on the weak-side of the court. That pass immediately led to a Lamar Odom duck in where Fisher delivered the ball to LO for shot inside where he was fouled. The court vision and understanding of teammate positioning that Bynum displayed in making that pass was light years ahead of the man many called a black hole just last February.
And this conceptual grasp of how he should play as an individual isn’t the only way that he’s showing growth. When evaluating what went wrong in a loss, Bynum revealed a firm understanding of what was ailing the team:
We can’t turn the basketball over. Out of the triangle, we have three guys on the baseline, so when we turn the basketball over, it puts us at a super big disadvantage… Especially with that first unit that’s in there, with Pau and myself, kind of slow-footed getting back. It’s causing a lot of problems, so we’ve just got to take care of the basketball so that doesn’t happen. We have to sit these teams down and make them play 20 seconds of defense. Really work the ball, so that it fuels our defense.
This quote is just one example (he’s had plenty of others that show his evolution into a thinker of the game) but to listen to him so clearly articulate an issue that contributed a loss is refreshing.
What we’ve mostly focused on, though, is Bynum’s offense. And while his continued ability to score the ball is a welcomed sight, I think we can all agree that where he can really impact the game is on defense. His sheer size and length naturally create a disruptive force on defense when it’s channelled and used correctly. Over at Land O’ Lakers, Dave McMenamin has some choice quotes and good nuggets of information explaining how the Lakers are now relying more and more on Bynum to be the team’s defensive anchor:
The system we’ve been working on in practice is starting to pick up a little bit,” Andrew Bynum said. “Guys are starting to understand the concept of funneling the wings to Pau and myself and trying to make them hit over the top of us.” Said Bryant of Bynum, who impressed with 18 points, seven rebounds and two blocks: “He’s our protector so we funnel a lot through him. He’s doing a great job changing shots.
Simply put, Bynum is now a major difference maker. Rather than being the icing on the cake in the Lakers’ chances to win a title, he’s becoming a key ingredient in the team’s foundation to achieving the goal. And while that’s sure to cause concern amongst fans that see the glass half empty of Bynum’s injury past, I’m happy that we’ve even gotten to this point. Because more than anything else it shows his growth as a player and how that development has enabled the team to even think of him in this way. I know that we’ll never be able to escape the thoughts of another ‘Drew injury. But on that subject, I’ll leave the last word to commenter The Dude Abides who offers some perspective on Bynum’s procedure and how it’s affected his play this year (and hopefully for years to come):
Drew is looking even better than the first part of last season, when he was supposedly healthy…The injury that he suffered when Kobe collided with his knee in Memphis two years ago not only was a torn MCL, but also a tiny tear of the meniscus. Coming back from that injury, he played the entire 2009 postseason with the same tiny meniscus tear, rehabbed some more over the summer, then played the entire 09-10 regular season with the same torn meniscus. He aggravated it in the first round against OKC. The surgeon last July 28 decided to repair the meniscus instead of removing the injured portion, resulting in a longer recovery time but hopefully a more stable knee. Looks like it’s working, as this is the most athletic Drew has looked since that two-week stretch in January 2009 when he was the most dominant offensive center in the league.

Jon K - I got one for ya:

"I most concentrate on my defense.....yeah"..."Slava make baskeet".


"Defensive Anchor..."

Love it!!!

MM, any word on whether Bynum might junk the knee brace sometime this season (or ever in his career)? He’s been playing admirably with it – but I wonder just how much more spring and mobility he’d have without it.

Allnet - that knee brace saved him a couple games back, when it got bent out of shape, but his knee didn't. Go knee brace!

Allnet - Bynum hasn't given any indications of that. I highly doubt it for precautionary reasons. But I'll ask at some point

"Ebanks, I see so much potential within him. I hope both the rooks get playing time this week against the cavs and warriors. We got super lucky with our rookies, they are great.

Or maybe PJ is just preparing them for greatness like he's done with so many other players"


What young talent has Phil Jackson developed? Smush Parker? Kwame Brown? Jordan Farmar?...............Oh I know.....Slava Medvedenko? Luke Walton? Who? Sasha Vujacic?

Phil Jackson is the Gordon Gekko of young talent..............the wrecker of them.

Let's look at this scenario.............You have a young talent like Ebanks with a tremendous upside, eager to learn and has quickness with a long wingspan............perfectly built to learn defensively and could potentially guard some 2's and definitely 3's with a little more quickness than Ron Artest.

You have a choice:

Develop Ebanks while Barnes is out (which could turn into a blessing in disguise for the playoffs) OR.......................Look for playing time for a soon to be 31 years old slow as molasses, can't shoot or defend, has no business in the league...........Luke Walton?

What do you do?

@MVP - I think Boston has realized that signing Jermaine Oneal was a mistake. Big Baby will still get his minutes. Sheed will just give Doc another option and keep him from the comp.

@ rdlee - I agree no worries about the C's, Spurs, Heat or anyone else if the Lakers are healthy and focused, but I still like to keep up with all the intriguing story lines.

@LakerTruth - DWade got treatment that series that even MJ never got. Like MVP said, the guy who put that video together deserve some props. He did a great job.

@Lew - Great selection. Listening to Buddy is always a good thing. So here's backatcha with JT's remake of Everyday...

"Jackson doesn't think highly of rookies, often comparing them to whale waste." "Whale waste" indeed! This opportunist of a "coach" --if only one could call him a coach for sitting on his high chair and observing games like a spectator, only occasionally to call for time outs and tell his players to "move the ball."

Jackson only thinks highly of proven and seasoned players like the Jordans, the Pippens, the Rodmans, the Shaqs, the Kobes and the Horrys of the NBA. He does not have the discipline to bring out the best in the "whale waste;" he only reaps where he hasn't sown. His 11 so called championships were all built on reaping where he did not nurture the "whale waste" so they could become the Jordans and the Kobes. If this Barnes' injury has presented him an opportunity to make amends to his opportunistic ways, he has the perfect specimen of an athlete in Ebanks to use--a "whale waste" he can make into a gem. He's got his chance; now let's see how he uses it.

It seems Jackson has never heard Bob Marley's true statement: "The biggest man you've ever seen was once a baby." Men do not become men by being treated always as babies. They become so by being nurtured, encouraged, supported, respected, and challenged. Jackson has a chance to becomes a coach's coach by nurturing the two very talented "whale waste" on his team--Ebanks and Character--into great players. Will he do so? Only time will tell. But if he doesn't, it will be no surprise to me or many critical observers of the game.

For regardless of how many rings he gets to wear on his fingers, for many including me, Jackson, in the pantheon of REAL coaches, is still not there with the Auerbachs, the Knights, the Krzyzewski and the Popovichs of basketball. The only way he gets there is to turn the "whale waste" he gets into gems. That is what REAL coaches do!!!

LRob- What's up. Hey man, I said those sources, were full of bad intel. That story Stephen A. Smith wrote is full of errors. Apparently, Danny Ainge spoke with Sheed and Sheed told him directly he's not interested. As much as Sheed is a polarizing figure (I have always been a fan of his), he's not a waffler. When he said he was done, I figured it was a done deal.

Not to mention, there's literally no room on Bostons' squad for a 5th center. They have Shaq, Erden, Perkins, and Jermaine. Having 5 centers on a squad, desperate for backcourt depth would definitely defeat the purpose of balancing depth. Delonte West could be far more valuable, if fully healed, than a 37 year old Rasheed Wallace.

For now it's speculation and rumor, not a shred of logic or evidence to back it all up.

Jon K

“We all get heavier as we get older because there's a lot more information in our heads”

Vlade Divac quote

Allnet - that knee brace saved him a couple games back, when it got bent out of shape, but his knee didn't. Go knee brace!

Posted by: 63 Footer | January 11, 2011 at 02:32 PM


Bynum's presence on this team is paramount for them to get a 'chip so I say brace the other knee as well!


with the next few games coming up, pj should take the opportunity to give both rookies some pt: DC at the 4 and Ebanks at the 3 because we are really thin after the starting 5 when you take into account how much better the competition is this season. Of the next 4 games coming up before OKC, the Clippers worry me the most in regards to getting a win so I hope the team doesn't get "bored" over the next several games.

they have a lot of things to work on so getting "bored" is no excuse to lose. pj: use this time to work the rookies; the team is going to need them for the remainder of the season. we need some youth on this team to compete effectively with the OKCs and Heats in the league. You'll see what I'm talking about when they go against the Clippers on Sunday.



It's hard to argue with results, and PJ certainly has gotten results. Certainly Phil's teams have been blessed with amazing, superstar talent. But he has also found the way to get the best out of guys with limited NBA skills. I'm talking about players like Steve Kerr, Judd Bueschler, Craig Hodges, Brian Shaw, Scott Williams, Stacey King, Luc Longley. Phil has not only gotten the best out of his stars, but he and his staff have nurtured the role players necessary to complete championship teams. Phil may not be perfect, but his record speaks for itself.



In Case You Missed It...


All Things Lakers »

Your database for all things purple and gold.

Find a Laker

Search a name

Select a season

Choose one of our lists



About the Bloggers

Bleacher Report | Lakers

Reader contributions from Times partner Bleacher Report

More Lakers on Bleacher Report »

Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists:

In Case You Missed It...