Derrick Caracter and Devin Ebanks turning heads in Summer League
Reporting from Las Vegas — They are the Lakers’ second-round draft picks and they have no assurances of getting a guaranteed contract.
They are second-round draft picks without any assurances of even being invited to the Lakers’ training camp.
But forwards Derrick Caracter and Devin Ebanks have impressed many, leading some to think the pair not only will attend L.A.'s training camp in late September but have improved their chances of making the opening-night roster.
Caracter and Ebanks began to pave their path toward the NBA by playing sound basketball at the NBA’s Summer League in Las Vegas.
“They’ve both played well,” Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said. “They’ve practiced well. Their effort and their attention to detail has been good. They’ve played well generally speaking, in practice and in games.”
Caracter, taken 58th overall out of Texas El Paso, averaged 15.4 points on 59.2% shooting, and 8.6 rebounds in five summer league games.
Ebanks, taken 43rd overall out of West Virginia, averaged 15 points and 3.6 rebounds in five summer league games. He shot 42.45% from the field and an impressive 45.4% from three-point range.
“Obviously since it’s the summer league, you’re playing against other rookies — some guys that are drafted and some guys that aren’t drafted,” Kupchak said. “So it’s not always the best barometer of how a player is going to pan out. But it does tell us something, and most of the time it tells us if they are good enough to go to training camp.”
The NBA kept track of how the rookies performed with its daily Rookie Ladder.
Over the course of the summer league, Caracter and Ebanks stayed highly ranked among the likes of guard John Wall, who was drafted first overall by the Washington Wizards out of Kentucky, and center/power forward DeMarcus Cousins, drafted fifth overall by the Sacramento Kings, also out of Kentucky.
“Both Derrick and Devin showed some good things in the summer league,” said Lakers summer league coach Chuck Person, who will move from special assistant to an assistant position with the team this season. “Caracter can post up and shot some from the outside. He’s undersized, but can play some [center and power forward], sort of like Glen Davis and Carl Landry.”
Caracter is listed at 6-9, 270 pounds but looks closer to 6-8.
He could be a keeper for the Lakers because he would cost them only $473,000 this season and because big men DJ Mbenga and Josh Powell are not expected to return.
Caracter averaged a double-double in points and rebounds in his first three games, but slowed down some after playing five games in seven days.
“I’m just competing and trying to play to the best of my abilities,” Caracter said. “The offense, I still haven’t gotten ahold of it. I know it, but as soon as I get on the court, I’m just having some problems [remembering] the different reads and things like that.”
Ebanks is listed as a 6-8, 208-pound small forward. He has been compared to former Laker Trevor Ariza, all the way down to how similar the two look.
Ebanks was known for his defense in college, but in the summer league he had moments when he knocked down some jump shots, even from three-point range.
“Things went pretty well,” Ebanks said. “I started off strong in the first two games and I’ve struggled some. But overall, it’s been good.”
Caracter, 22, has had to deal with a lot of issues since his high school days.
He attended three different high schools, one twice. When it came to college, he first attended Louisville but was dismissed from the program after two seasons. He wound up at UTEP, where his weight became a problem when he ballooned to 300 pounds.
Caracter acknowledged that he needs to remain “positive down to my body language” and that he has to “accept coaching.”
“Coming out of high school, I was looked at under a magnifying glass,” Caracter said. “My problems — little problems — were bigger problems in my case. That’s the way things happen. I’m just trying to move forward. I’m just trying to make my little comeback.”
Guard Shannon Brown and the Lakers continue to talk. Brown opted out of a two-year contract that would have paid him $2.1 million for the 2010-11 season. But Mark Bartelstein, Brown’s agent, said he and Kupchak still are trying to negotiate a deal.
“We’re working on a formal draft of some things,” Bartelstein said. “Hopefully in the next few days we’ll get something done.”
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