With the No. 48 overall pick, expectations can only be so high in terms of talent. When the Los Angeles Lakers got Duke forward Ryan Kelly near the end of the second round, though, they got far more value than they could have asked for.
Coming off surgery to fix a fractured metatarsal in his right foot, Kelly is still in the recovery process. It’s expected that he’ll be ready to go in time for training camp, but the injury forced him to miss 13 game his senior season and will likely be a cause for concern as he transitions to the NBA. Lakers head trainer Gary Vitti is one of the best in the business, though, so Kelly is in good hands.
Assuming he gets healthy and stays there, Kelly will bring plenty to the Los Angeles frontcourt. Measuring in at 6’11’’, 230 pounds, Kelly offers outstanding height and reach as a stretch-four. He displays outstanding quickness for a big man and has a reliable shot rarely found in a player of his size.
Kelly is an outstanding fit for Mike D’Antoni’s offense due to his effectiveness on the outside, something that Pau Gasol struggled being consistent with last season. During his senior campaign, Kelly shot 45.3 percent from the field, including 42.2 percent from beyond the arch. If the Lakers could harness that efficiency from deep, it would allow them to stretch the floor for their big man in the middle – who presumably won’t be Dwight Howard in 2013-2014.
Despite his strengths, Kelly still has plenty of work to do before he can contribute for the Lakers. Considering his lanky frame, the Duke product will need to bulk up in order to compete with other NBA big men. He’ll also need to improve his presence on the boards, as Kelly only managed 5.3 rebounds per game even though he regularly towered over his opposition.
Even the defensive aspect of his game needs some work moving forward. Kelly showed improvement each year during his time with the Blue Devils, but is facing much stiffer competition at the next level.
Having spent his entire collegiate career under Duke legend Mike Krzyzewski, Kelly has the foundation to make a legitimate run at the Lakers’ roster in 2013-2014. It’s not going to be an easy road, but roster spots have recently opened and the purple and gold need some extra bodies at the 4 and 5 spots. If he can continue to be productive from long range, Kelly will have a leg up on the rest of the frontcourt hopefuls.
The Lakers got a sleeper at No. 48. Kelly may never be a starter, but the Duke alum could develop into a quality role player with experience.