Why Tarik Black Can Be a Valuable Piece for the Los Angeles Lakers’ Rebuild

Tarik Black’s first two months with the Los Angeles Lakers have presented a curious amalgamation of assignments—six starts, 10 appearances off the bench and 12 did-not-play designations (DNPs).

Yet the 23-year-old big man is demonstrating that he can be a worthy piece of the puzzle for a team in the midst of a major rebuild.

It’s all about doing whatever is asked of him, even as that function shifts daily per Lakers coach Byron Scott's whims as he experiments and evaluates for the future.

Most recently—including a loss Sunday to the Oklahoma City Thunder—that has resulted in Black riding the pine as others get a chance to play.

After a recent practice, per Lakers.com, Scott spoke about keeping players on their toes as he keeps the lineups fluid: “The last 28 games or so, it could kind of be game-by-game; I can just change it up almost every game. The one thing I want to do is make sure these guys stay hungry.”

The games are played in the here and now, but the hard court has become the Lakers’ test lab, inhabited primarily by players without guaranteed contracts for next season.

Black, who was picked up off waivers from the Houston Rockets, is an undrafted rookie on a two-year, non-guaranteed deal that pays him $507,336 this season and $845,059 if he is picked up for 2015-16.

He has played both the center and power forward positions for the Lakers and was also sent to their development team for one game, resulting in 23 points, 12 rebounds and three assists.

Interestingly, Black’s scoring has slipped since being thrust into the starting lineup, averaging 3.5 points over his six starts in February, compared to 7.1 points off the bench in January.

But this may well have to do with the fluctuating roles of other players—his starts have come alongside fellow rookie Jordan Clarkson and shooting...

About the Author