Sunday, July 31, 2011
Devin knows how good he's going to be.
BY TIM DAVID HARVEY
If your unlucky enough to sit so high up in the bleach during Laker games that your nose starts to bleed then you might begin to see things. There goes an athletic wing, around 6 foot 8, or 9. He's got short black hair, stubble but no beard and an assassins stare. Plus he's got speed and style to boot, look familiar? Not only is he fast but he hustles and hard to. Is this 2009? This same player wears a number 3 and stands next to Ron Artest... didn't he? Isn't that Trevor Ariza?
Sorry to report this but one of the Lakers best championship players isn't back but that doesn't matter right now because the guy we've see before us has played almost as well as him in limited minutes, sharing the court with defensive maestros Ron Artest and Matt Barnes. Not to mention the post trio of Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum and one guy you may be real familiar with. You know the legend, the MVP, the five time heavyweight champ. This number 3 however, giving his all on both ends of the floor actually goes by the name of Devin Ebanks. You may not know the name, but soon you'll know the game and then the first and last will be household and televised.
In 2009 some weren't sure whether Ron Artest would deliver the same firepower and intensity that Ariza did but Ron, Ron came up big so many times for the Lakers in the playoffs that they had to name him twice. Ron saved the Lakers and the Doberman from the doghouse so many times that they may as well of named him Robert. Still what the Lakers gained in Artest's strength and solidness, they lost in Ariza's speed and spark. Now with last season's draft addition of Devin in the Lakers bank they may finally be able to replace the liability that was missing following Ariza's departure. Ebanks is an asset that may pay off in dividends.
Devin's works hard and his plays are large. Sure Shannon Brown brought the Shan-WOW to this generations 'Showtime' night after night but with more space on the floor now, Ebanks the Lakers have another player who can finish emphatically at the rim and a player they've sorely missed when losing guys like Brown (probably), Ariza or the 'reel' worthy talent of Maurice Evans. Ebanks joins this Laker lay-up line of above the rim, supporting darlings that has been running for years way before the days of Cedric Ceballos or even the smooth silk of Jaamal Wilkes.
Kobe can still get up, but due to his age and evolution of his game he doesn't go to the rim like he once did. Now when he has the floor and it's open Kobe can start the fast break and deflect to a guy like Devin who can finish, closing other teams out. Kobe and Devin already did that last preseason working the open lane so much and driving through like a McDonalds line at peak time. It's in that preseason as well where Devin has been able to show the Lakers his potential in prime playing time. Sure this recent losing Laker season also saw Ebanks lose playoff time-you know big Phil doesn't like playing Rookies-but now he's a sophomore Devin has the chance to show so much more for Mike Brown. Besides 3.1 points per in an average of just over a minute a game isn't half bad, just give him more time.
Even in the garbage time of last preseason Ebanks has been able to shine (thanks to the tarnish of injuries the Lakers have suffered to guys like Kobe, Sasha and Walton) and Devin managed to plaster the 'bust' preseason with some silver linings in the cloud of defeat. Devin averaged 7 points and a shade under 3 and a half boards coming into the light in front of Hollywood. He had 14 in a win against Denver and 10 on a dethroning of the Sacramento Kings. Kobe on top form, or Kobe not on top form, sharing the ball and actually doing something with it with guys like Gasol, Odom, Fisher, Barnes, Blake and Artest is more than impressive, it's impressionable. Just think how much more Devin could grow this Summer if it wasn't for this lockout and cancelled Summer league in Vegas. He could have been a leader, he could have been a standout, it wouldn't have been a gamble on the Lakers part, it would have been a winning hand. Still once the season gets under way this young wing will get another chance to roll the dice and fly.
Sure last season there where rookie mistakes, D-League demotions and sore hands from carrying all those bags but the futures in Ebanks palms. If he earns his stripes in the Lakers nation he's going to give the team another star and state of play en route to a quest for a championship. Ebanks is focused, it won't be long before the cameras are on him. On his quest to prove he belongs on a team with more than six go to guys and his journey to show every other team that passed him up 43 times Devin will show his full potential. Just like Ariza and just like Shannon before, Devin will be called upon to spark plug the Lakers and the Staples Centre crowd off the bench with energy plays. What shouldn't be disconnected however is that just like these two guys his game has so much more to it.
Sure the Youtube highlights will come but as next season wears on and as the playoffs break in these top ten plays in otherwise dull moments will turn into key plays in decisive moments. Just like Ariza for the 2009 champion Lakers or Ebanks will be ready and charged for when the Lakers are overdrawn. Make no mistake if Ebanks unquestionable rise continues through 82 games and 8 weeks he'll be one of the keys to the Lakers success without a doubt. Then he'll be able to stand next to Lamar Odom and Ron Artest and share more than their native Queensbridge upbringings. Let's not front however, with the way he's come up while other Lakers have let down throughout last season it 'aint hard to tell he already deserves to be amongst the centre of attention. Devin has already planted his feet, now it's time for him to fill those sneakers and leave some footprints. So if your sitting up in the Hollywood hill, high rises of the Staples Centre you may want to borrow the binoculars from the guy next to you because that number 3 isn't Trevor Ariza. It's someone else, someone here to stay. TIM DAVID HARVEY.