Best- and Worst-Case Scenarios for LA Lakers’ Ryan Kelly in 2014-15

As the lowly No. 48 pick in last year’s NBA draft, Ryan Kelly outperformed expectations for the Los Angeles Lakers. A classic stretch-4 shooter, the rookie from Duke thrived in Mike D’Antoni’s small-ball system, getting extended minutes as more experienced players watched from the bench.

Now, D’Antoni’s gone and Kelly is without a guaranteed contract for next season. The Lakers have the ability to extend a qualifying offer, thus making Kelly a restricted free agent.

Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that they do indeed extend the offer—because why wouldn’t they? The team that lost 55 games this season has just one frontcourt player locked into a binding agreement—Robert Sacre, aka the No. 60 pick in the 2012 draft.

Let’s further stipulate that no other team bids on Kelly and that we sail into the 2014-15 season with our reedy sophomore firmly in hand and ready for his best-case and worst-case scenarios.


Best-Case Scenario

On first blush you might assume that the exit of D’Antoni could spell doom for Ryan Kelly. The late second-round draft pick bloomed during his rookie season in a floor-spacing, uptempo system. Yet, a coaching change could provide an unexpected silver lining—the ability to show he’s not just a one-trick pony.

The Lakers are without a coach at present and don’t appear to be in a particular hurry to sign one. Still, any number of candidates could appreciate a talented big man with excellent court vision, a deft passing touch and the ability to spread the floor.

Kelly addressed the situation per Mark Medina of The LA Daily News by saying:

I think I can play in multiple styles of offenses. Obviously Coach D’Antoni’s is more spread out and that’s what I’m going to be, more of a stretch four...

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