Robert Upshaw was one of the top shot blocking prospects, oozing with potential and a likely lottery pick. But he ran into problems in college, and was kicked off of two separate teams for various reasons, and now faces a long road to make a professional roster. He has landed in a good situation with the Los Angeles Lakers, where they do not have a lot of depth at center and there won’t be as much pressure to win this season. Upshaw needs to take advantage of his situation and stay out of trouble off the court.
Upshaw proved in summer league that he has enough talent to play, and he can be a difference maker on defense. He is a huge body down low, with long arms that allow him to affect almost every opposing shot in the lane. He is not very quick or athletic, but has very good timing and can handle players one on one in the post. He reads the game well and could easily develop into one of the best weak side shot blockers in the league.
Offensively he has a lot of room to grow, as he does not have many moves in the post. He is bigger and stronger than most players that he previously played against, but that will change once he faces stiffer competition. His post-game needs a lot of development, but for now he must prove that he can finish easy shots. There are a lot of playmakers on the perimeter who can get him easy looks down low, and he could flourish playing with them early on.
The Lakers do not have a lot of quality defenders, so a lot will be put on the big men to erase their teammates’ mistakes. Upshaw has that ability, and he can learn a lot from playing behind Roy Hibbert, another slow-footed big man who is very good at controlling the paint on defense. Upshaw could be a valuable asset for the organization moving forward, but he must prove that he can stay out of trouble and be a positive member of the team. If he can behave himself, then he has a very bright future ahead of him.