Five things Derrick Caracter needs for a successful season
This is the 12th post in a series focusing on five things each Lakers player must do to have a successful 2011-12 season (assuming there is one, of course).
1. Get re-signed. Despite Derrick Caracter's optimism that the Lakers will exercise their $788,872 option to keep him next season, I remain doubtful. He averaged two points on 48.5% shooting in 5.2 minutes a game his rookie season. He was arrested during the playoffs at a New Orleans IHOP, accused of battery, public intoxication and resisting arrest. The Lakers' coaching staff appeared uncomfortable elevating Caracter's role despite Pau Gasol's needing more rest when Andrew Bynum rehabbed his surgically repaired right knee. It's possible Caracter could stay on the team, however, considering his inexpensive price tag.
2. Improve maturity. Caracter doesn't have the clout for the Lakers to tolerate his off-court arrest. This episode highlights the Lakers' contrasting views toward Caracter and Devin Ebanks. Despite Ebanks' limited playing time and raw abilities, the Lakers loved his attitude and work ethic. Meanwhile, Caracter's arrest only raised doubts about his maturity and seriousness toward the game. Ensuring he stays out of trouble will at least alleviate his standing on the team.
3. Improve conditioning. Caracter said he's more concerned about becoming a better player than losing weight. The two go hand in hand, though. Dan Barto, the IMG Basketball Academy's pro/college training coordinator, said last month Caracter weighs 270 pounds, which he considers appropriate weight for a bruising center. Caracter needs to maintain that weight because his physical presence gives him a competitive advantage. But he needs to make sure that doesn't compromise his endurance and mobility. Barto believes a weight of 265 pounds would put Caracter in "optimal shape."
4. Add post moves. Caracter has largely focused on limiting fouls and using his size to command better post position. Barto said that's involved three things: Caracter's work with him at IMG, Caracter's appearing in the Impact summer league in Las Vegas and receiving mentorship from Celtics forward Glen "Big Baby" Davis."
5. Better preparation. Caracter admitted he lacked mental focus before games because he believed he wouldn't receive much playing time. Oftentimes, he proved right, but he needs to feel ready in case that moment comes.
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Photo: Derrick Caracter was little used by the Lakers last season despite the need for a bruising big man. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times