Monday, July 27, 2009

Lakers bring back DJ Mbenga

The Lakers exercised their $959,111 veteran’s minimum contract option to bring back center DJ Mbenga. DJ is the prototypical 3rd center/12th man, having played only 181 minutes in the regular season and 16 in the playoffs even with Andrew Bynum missing more than two months with a knee injury.

He brings a pretty strong defensive presence to the table. Big and strong, he has the base to hold his position against bigger post players. Very athletic, he is a top-notch shotblocker and a solid (if sometimes overeager) help defender. As a bonus, he can play Tim Duncan for stretches, a role he filled in Dallas and in which he could be useful again if they stay healthy enough to be a bother at playoff time.

Of course the counter is his almost total lack of an offensive game, which is why he has yet to make his way into an NBA rotation. He has no post game to speak of, in fact I watched him an hour before game time last November trying to score down low against Brian Shaw, with only limited success.

He has added a midrange shot which he can make passably, but to say opponents will give him that shot is a massive understatement. His offensive game is pretty much limited to putbacks and finding himself open under the basket after not being guarded.

Still, as a third center and an energy guy, you could do a lot worse. He’s capable of being a backup center with a unit that has plenty of offense, so I can’t argue with having him available for emergency duty or to steal minutes in certain matchups as my 12th man.

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