NBA Draft analysis: Gonzaga’s Robert Sacre to the Lakers

Sacre’s Intensity Needed in Lakerland

I sat across a Los Angeles Lakers hoodie-ladened Robert Sacre on a Southwest flight to Spokane days after the conclusion of this year’s Final Four (and his participation at the NABC’s College All-Star Basketball Game), so it seems fitting that the former Gonzaga Bulldogs center ends up as a member of the Lakers.

Sheer coincidence or not, the Lakers are getting a dose of sheer attitude in the paint, something that the franchise has needed since Karl Malone’s escapade as The Bachelor in search of a ring in his one-and-done campaign with the Lakers in 2004.

With Los Angeles’ only pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, general manager Mitch Kupchak acquired toughness at center with the 60th selection.

Can Sacre succeed in the NBA?

The 7’0″ 260 pound center out of North Vancouver BC Canada, will mesh with the Kobe Bryant led Lakers, because of his ability to find success on the court without the basketball.

From small forward Austin Daye to shooting guard Matt Bouldin and even point guard Kevin Pangos, Sacre has thrived throughout his career despite playing in a perimeter-oriented offensive system.

He finished second in Gonzaga history in blocks (186) and was named the West Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year, an award that veterans Bryant and Metta World Peace will both appreciate.

Zags in LA have had some success

The franchise has had positive experience with recent Gonzaga frontcourt players.

Former Charlotte Bobcats’ lottery pick Adam Morrison kept a positive attitude when he warmed the bench for the likes of Lamar Odom and Trevor Ariza in two seasons (2009-10).

Morrisonearned two rings, despite not making any on-court contributions of note during his tenure.

Robert Sacre

Can Robert Sacre make a name for himself in hostile Los Angeles?

The team drafted Ronny Turiaf 37th in 2005 and he was a fan favorite for his effervescent energy and his positive attitude in his 173 games.

Turiaf played for three seasons before choosing to chase a paycheck from the Golden State Warriors at the end of the 2007-08 campaign.

Sacre used the comparison to describe a future niche for himself in a conference-call with the Los Angeles Times, as he eluded to Turiaf’s willingness to accept a role that revolves around playing defense and providing energy.

Can he make a name for himself in LA?

While the center will never have fans making comparisons to Pau Gasol or even Elden Campbell for fans from the Mike Dunleavy era, it is significant to note that Sacre sells himself short if he compares his offense to Turiaf’s.

With Elias Harris in Gonzaga’s frontcourt, Sacre’s offensive ability was not relied upon for the Bulldogs.

Assuming that he makes the roster, the Lakers will be surprised by his vastly underrated  presence as he started his senior campaign with double-digit scoring outings in eight of his first nine games and ended it with an average of 11.6 points per game.

How Sacre’s game can help the Lakers

Sacre has a soft touch around the rim along with the ability to spin off both shoulders and finish with either hand. From 12 feet, Sacre must be respected as a threat at the very least.

The center did finish his career with 1,270 points in 135 games (9.4 per game) as a Bulldog and  shot 50.4 percent from the field and 73.5 from the free throw line, with the latter percentage spiking his junior (82.3 percent) and senior (76.1 percent) seasons.

With the 60th pick in the draft, Los Angeles could have done far worse than acquiring a frontcourt option off the bench.

Kupchak and coach Mike Brown will be pleased with Sacre’s defensive-mindedness and the intensity that the center brings to every contest.

Bryant has always commented that he wants to battle with warriors.

In the 2012 draft the Lakers picked one in Robert Sacre.

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