Lakers Can’t Afford Sophomore Slump from Ryan Kelly

Life is good for Ryan Kelly. The rookie stretch 4 was re-signed by the Los Angeles Lakers this summer and got hitched to his high school sweetheart, Lindsay Cowher—the daughter of former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher.

Kelly may be living the dream, but there’s other things that matter too—such as the fact that his position just got a lot more crowded with the likes of Julius Randle, Carlos Boozer and Ed Davis.

This could result in reduced minutes for last year’s No. 48 pick out of Duke University, which could in turn lead to some sort of cataclysmic slump.

And the Lakers don’t need any slumps! Unless you’re a fan of tank talk, and let’s not make that a year-round conversation, please.

Kelly was a pleasant surprise during a decidedly unpleasant season, averaging eight points and 3.7 rebounds per game while starting in 25 out of 59 appearances. Those aren’t eye-boggling stats by any means, but he played respectable minutes for former coach Mike D’Antoni, thriving in a floor-spacing small-ball system. He also got some seasoning with the team’s minor league affiliate, the D-Fenders, averaging 22.2 points, 7.6 boards and 3.8 assists in five games played.

Ryan had some legitimate breakout moments, as well, like a career-high 26 points in a win against the Cleveland Cavaliers. This was also the game in which the Lakers were down to only five active players when Robert Sacre fouled out but was allowed to stay in due to an NBA no-forfeit rule.

But now the 6’11” slender shooter will be playing for a different kind of coach in Byron Scott, an old-school fundamentalist who preaches physicality and defensive responsibility.

How will that work for Kelly? Will he get buried at the end of the bench?

Maybe not. The soon-to-be sophomore is by no means an enforcer, and he cert...

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