Five things ensuring Devin Ebanks a successful season for Lakers
This is the 11th in a series of reports that focus 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. Devin Ebanks' future isn't entirely secure considering the Lakers have a team option on him worth $788,872. Even though Ebanks' numbers in the 2010-2011 season were modest (3.1 points and 1.4 rebounds in 5.9 minutes a contest in only 20 games), the Lakers universally love his work ethic and high upside. Plus, Ebanks is the type of young, athletic and inexpensive player the Lakers actually need to bolster their veteran-laden roster. So it's a good chance he's returning.
2. Successfully rehab. Ebanks didn't fully tap his potential last season because he spent the last two months rehabbing a fractured left tibia. Ebanks indicated in a phone interview last month that he's played basketball nonstop, including in a few Goodman League exhibition games. So it's safe to assume he'll be fine. But it's still critical he maintains that health.
3. Be prepared to play shooting guard. Ebanks spent most of this offseason working on his shooting because General Manager Mitch Kupchak envisions him playing more at shooting guard. Considering the Lakers have depth at small forward (Metta World Peace, Matt Barnes) and Shannon Brown likely won't return, this position gives Ebanks the best chance to play. Ebanks' offseason work on his shooting needs to pay off substantially because the Lakers simply don't have the funds to significantly upgrade their roster. Considering the Lakers' suffered in that department last season, any improved shooting marks from Ebanks would be a boost for the team and bolster his minutes.
4. Keep defensive presence. Even though he experienced a heavy learning curve in fitting into the Lakers and grasping the offense, Ebanks immediately earned Phil Jackson's respect because of his hustle and willingness to play defense. Again, Ebanks didn't receive much playing time because of the Lakers' depth, but he rarely made mistakes on defense.
5. Maintain work ethic. It's already gotten Ebanks so far with the Lakers. Even though Ebanks is publicly quiet, his teammates loved him because of his willingness to work hard. That mind-set will also expedite his development.
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