Ryan Kelly: How He Can Thrive with the Los Angeles Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers took a chance with the 48th pick in the 2013 NBA draft. The team chose Ryan Kelly, the 6’11” Duke forward who averaged 12.9 points and 5.3 rebounds per game in his senior season.

Kelly seems to fit the mold of the Lakers’ roster—he’s big and can light it up from beyond the arc—but his transition from college to the NBA won’t exactly be an easy one.

Kelly has a lot to work on if he plans on actually contributing to Los Angeles next season.  


Get Healthy

For starters, Kelly has to get healthy. He missed 13 games for the Blue Devils last season due to complications from foot surgery, and he went under the knife yet again in the offseason. For that reason, Kelly wasn’t able to work out with teams leading up to the draft.

The last thing the Lakers need is another injury-plagued player.

Dwight Howard and Steve Nash missed a ton of time last season, and Kobe Bryant is recovering from a torn Achilles. Kelly will not play on the team’s summer league squad, which gives him about three months before training camp to regain full health.


Improve Defensive Skills

Once healthy, the next thing Kelly must do is improve his defensive ability. His intensity was always there in college, but at times he looked like Steve Novak in one-on-one situations. A lot of guys in the NBA can knock down shots, but if he wants serious minutes for the Lakers, Kelly must improve his footwork and agility on the defensive end.

Despite his reputation, Kelly believes that he improved as a defender over the course of his collegiate career, as he told Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles:

Through my career at Duke, [defense] was something that I really did improve on. I know that I always work hard on the defensive end, and as I continue to grow as a player and wor...

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