Darius Johnson-Odom didn’t do anything to hurt his chances in his final Summer League game last night, but there were some bad signs. The Lakers had the worst bench in the NBA last year, but looking at the efficiency ratings updated after last night’sgames and the comments of the owner and coach, it appears DJO is firmly behind bigger summer league guards Darius Morris (64th in Summer League rankings), Christian Eyenga (139th after staring last night) and even Andrew Goudelock (20 spots behind DJO at 294th, but a 6-3 point guard complemented by his coach).
With Eyenga hot and the Lakers finding a 6-man rotation that worked, DJO only took the court for four minutes in the middle of the 2nd quarter. He looked strong defensively again, but it was against a smaller Mickey McConnell who has been one of the poorest players this summer (357th ranked), and he only handled the ball a little en route to missing one shot (though after a nice weave through the lane) and turned it over once (though it was a typical summer league miscommunication pass).
The red flags were raised when Eyenga was scoring 22 points and getting rave reviews from owner Jerry Buss and owner Mike Brown from the sideline. They also both sung the praises of the Lakers’ other draft pick, center Robert Sacre, but Brown never mentioned DJO and Buss had to be prompted twice by announcers to mention him, and even then would only say,
“Um … you know, right now he is struggling offensively. Defensively we are encouraged. He still has a shot to make the team.” When prompted further about DJO’s NBA-ready body, Buss did add a simple, “Yes, exactly.”
We still hope DJO can get one of the guard spots behind Kobe Bryant and Steve Blake, and with Ramon Sessions also having come over from the Cavs in the Eyenga trade, it just looks like there are six guards ahead of him right now on the Lakers roster. Hopefully the Lakers opt for the upside of DJO when they reflect on how weak Eyenga, Morris, and Goudelock were before their rookie year, but it looks like the following days will still be a nervous time as DJO and Dwight Buycks hope to join the six Marquette players who have NBA spots pretty much locked up.
The biggest hope is that the Lakers would opt for DJO over Goudelock, who shot only a little better than DJO (4 of 11 average game), and for the talk of being a better point guard had his first assist last night and for the summer had fewer assists and rebounds than DJO, who made a nice stretch rebound last night.