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Category: Josh McRoberts

Josh McRoberts feels ready for starting debut

From the moment Josh McRoberts stepped onto the court, he wasted very little time making his presence felt.

On back-to-back possessions, he connected on an alley-oop lob from Kobe Bryant and then found Pau Gasol open with a back-door pass. McRoberts admits still needing more time to grasp Mike Brown's offense a week after the Lakers acquired him through free agency. But many of the 18,463 fans at Staples Center witnessing McRoberts in purple and gold for the first time in the Lakers' exhibition game Monday against the Clippers would've hardly guessed he felt lost.

When McRoberts makes his starting debut at power forward Sunday in the Lakers' season opener against Chicago, he'll hardly replace Lamar Odom's services. But as evidenced by his early minutes in the Lakers' first preseason game, he'll provide enough grit and hustle to ease the burden Gasol faces starting at center in place of a suspended Andrew Bynum.

"I'm excited," McRoberts said after practice Saturday at the Lakers' facility in El Segundo. "I'm ready to get going." 

Incidentally, McRoberts professes he didn't feel comfortable in that first preseason game when he instantly impressed fans with his hustle and smart decision-making. That didn't happen until the Lakers' second preseason game Wednesday against the Clippers. Then, McRoberts didn't necessarily stop Blake Griffin from making highlight-reel plays, but he remained chippy enough to energize the rest of his team. With the Lakers' depleted frontline facing Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah on Christmas Day, it remains critical that McRoberts maintains the ability to help down low and dial up the Lakers' intensity. 

"I have a still long way to go," McRoberts said. "Don't get me wrong. But I'm happy I'm a little more comfortable."

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Josh McRoberts adapting with the Lakers

Three days since arriving in Los Angeles, new Lakers forward Josh McRoberts is still staying at a hotel near the team's practice facility — and isn't even thinking about house hunting in Southern California.

"I got to learn the offense before I find a place to live," he said. "That's what I'm worried about."

To do so, he's pored over Mike Brown's DVDs and started memorizing some of the unspecified terminology in the Lakers' "smart corner" offense. But just like how McRoberts' has handled his living arrangements on the fly, so will he handle his acclimation with the Lakers. 

It hardly seems fair to ask McRoberts, who's not exactly of All-Star caliber, to fill Lamar Odom's shoes. Still McRoberts finished last season at Indiana with a career-high average of 7.4 points and 5.3 rebounds while shooting 54.7% from the floor and averaging 22.2 minutes per game. And he won't really have to know the whole playbook from the start. He can mitigate the loss of Odom with his basketball instincts, given that most of his game consists of scrapping for loose balls, getting offensive putbacks and providing energy off the bench. 

"I won't have to know 100% of everything to be able to be effective," McRoberts said after the Lakers' intrasquad scrimmage at USC. "I want to know everything, make reads and make plays but just playing basketball, once you get the basics, it's just making reads. That makes it easier for me."

In practice, he's been banging bodies with Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, who say McRoberts has already raised their intensity level. In the scrimmage, McRoberts often cut through the lane and grabbed offensive putbacks. In Sunday's practice, he correctly set a pair of screens that immediatly earned Brown's praise.

"I thought he was active," Brown said. "That's what we brought him in for with his actiity."

And even if he has plenty to catch up on, that'll do for now.

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Josh McRoberts could start at power forward

His first day on the job was so regimented that Josh McRoberts didn't have much time to eat.

He arrived in Los Angeles on Tuesday at midnight, shortly after the Lakers agreed to sign him to a two-year, $6.2-million deal. After a physical at 7 a.m. and a practice at 10, he promptly fell asleep. He managed to fit in an omelet during the day, but that was about it. 

Thursday should be better, and the Lakers can't wait to work him into the rotation. Coach Mike Brown and forward Pau Gasol lauded McRoberts' scrappiness that led to a career-high 7.4 points and 5.3 rebounds in 22.2 minutes per game while shooting 54.7% from the floor last season with Indiana.

The Lakers' frontcourt depth remains depleted with Andrew Bynum serving a five-game suspension, Lamar Odom's trade to Dallas and Derrick Caracter's expected 4-6 week absence because of left knee surgery. Despite missing the first five days of training camp, Brown acknowledged that McRoberts might be the best option to start at power forward, while Gasol slides to center, for the first five games.

"He could start for us on Christmas Day," said Brown, who first met McRoberts at Carmel High School in Indiana, when Brown was an assistant coach at Indiana University. "Who knows what will happen? But he's a young guy that in my opinion has established himself as an NBA player. Not quite a starter, but definitely a rotation player." 

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