103619_lakers_LAS_Watching Kwame Brown play for the Lakers is like watching a stunningly beautiful temptress of a flirt join a nunnery – it burns more because you know how amazing it could have been. 6’11’’, 270 pounds of pure muscle – the kind of body built for basketball. So much potential that when he floundered, it was basket-blue-balls.

What happened?

Plucking an impressionable kid out of high school and dropping him into the NBA is a very delicate matter. Think about how much change one goes through in those formative years between 18 – 22. The influences we have in those years leave their mark for a lifetime.

Kwame’s lifetime influence was Michael Jordan. By many accounts, rather than developing and nurturing that talent, Jordan broke him (after his Hall of Fame acceptance speech, it’s not too hard to imagine).

Which really begs the question: what if Kwame had been drafted by the Lakers instead? Would he have turned out differently?

Watching not only Bynum flourish, but also Farmar and others, it struck me that the Lakers have an uncanny ability to not only identify, nurture and develop talent in a player where others haven’t seen it or been able to develop it. This is evidenced not only by the lower draft picks that have turned into gems, but also by the Lakers ability to find talent where others have left it idle.

A sample of Laker picks that we all remember for the help they gave their stars -

  1. 1985, A.C. Green with the 23rd pick.
  2. 1989, Vlade Divac with the 26th pick (One of the first teams to recognize the value of going overseas).
  3. 1993, Nick Van Excel with the 37th pick of the second round. Talk about a diamond in the rough.
  4. 1996, Derek Fisher with the 24th pick.
  5. 2003, Luke Walton with the 32nd pick of the second round.
  6. 2005, Ronny Turiaf with the 37th pick of the second round.

The Lakers management also has the ability to identify talent where it had been ignored: Mo Evans, Trevor Ariza and Shannon Brown to name a few from recent history. The Lakers even milked some serious talent out of Mark Madson and Travis Knight!

The stars they have drafted are also a living testament to this. Magic. Kobe. Bynum. They all came in young, all had talent, but the organization allowed them to develop.

Getting the Turiafs, Waltons and Fishers to compliment your superstars is something the Lakers have done better than anyone else. Every team has their stars. It’s the rest of the puzzle that needs to be pieced together. But the Lakers don’t just go out and bring in the talent. They draft it. They develop it. They mold it.

One gripe I have always had with the sport of basketball is the lack of talent development. Teams typically try to go out and poach talent and don’t really want to invest the time to develop young players the way teams in the NFL do (the one time the Lakers tried to do this, it failed miserably with the Gary Payton/Karl Malone year).

Which is what makes me wonder what life would have been like for Kwame if the Lakers had drafted him instead of the Wizards. Or what life would have been like for Bynum if a Jordan-run organization had drafted him.

Other Lakeshow Spotlights -

  • Bynum’s looking real good. However, he doesn’t jump. He hops. He needs to take a note out of Dwight Howard’s book and learn to jump and jam it in there.
  • Nothing kills me more than when the Lakers fall in love with the 3’s. It’s ALWAYS a bad thing (I wrote this midway through the Dallas game… enough said).
  • Why is Jim Carrey coaching the Mavs?
  • Lamar: Why the bandages?
  • Anybody else feel like Kobe came into this season thinking he wasn’t going to have to work as hard?
  • Nothing makes me shudder as much as the evil, satisfying look on Mark Cuban’s face when he knew they were going to win.
  • matthew

    I agree mostly with your points. Especially in terms of developing talent which by all accounts is cheaper and way more cost efficient (home town discounts, fan base.) I do disagree that buying talent ends up in a failed season. I can’t think of many teams who wouldn’t pay for stars with a guarantee of being IN the finals. No team is finals proof so you cant just deem it a failure because they lost to a much healthier and deeper team. I do think that growing the talent yourself helps you in the long run because you control your destiny instead of having to dish out money and courtships for pure high priced talent.

  • LAKESHOW420

    Kwame Brown is the worst player in NBA history. He couldnt have been any worse as a laker. It was a good thing we had him cuz we got Gasol instead.

  • lainok

    I would take kwame over smush parker any day.

  • Lakers 4 Life

    I would take Mike Penberthy over smush any day!

  • shannon4mvp

    Why the hell are we talkin about douche bag Kwame. He was never a good laker and he never tried or put anything into his game, He sucks and will always.

  • Robert

    Kwame just lucked out – he looked like a basketball player, acted a little bit like one, and had MJ as his sponsor. After that, it’s like getting elected into office – he’s there for a few years. The Lakers org was the best possible place to develop him, and he failed them (and us!). Even though it was said his teammates liked him, he always seemed (to me) to be coasting through games, and not taking them seriously. That to me was the biggest problem, and I think even Kobe saw that too.
    Lucky man – got to play in the NBA, got a lot of money, some fame (by being on Lakers) – pretty good life for a slacker.
    What’s up next? Kwame Brown reality show – “How I took the NBA for a ride”

  • l8k3r4l1f3

    are we seriously talking bout kwame? are u serious? the only thing he was great at was getting us pau…

  • Micah

    Perhaps Kwame could have turned out differently, he actually should have gone to college. Plus you mention he had the perfect body, don’t forget you had unusually small hands for his size which is probably why he has butter fingers.

  • p a

    “. . and poach talent …….do (the one time the Lakers tried to do this, it failed miserably”

    Not quite true. Remember Wilt? Shaq? Silk? McAdoo?

    • 242LakerFan

      Not the same at all. Those were single players, taken one at a time and plugged into the team. The Payton/Malone experiment was a bigger, one shot, all or nothing move.

  • SD Anthony

    Farmar… flourish? This guy gives me indigestion every time I watch him handle the ball. We need to can him and Sasha with a quickness.

  • gugy

    pretty sure Sasha, Farmar and possibly Morrison will be trade this season.
    I believe Mitch will pull another magic trick and unload these guys.

  • floppy

    The good thing about Kwame is that he got us Pau… Thats exactly what Mitch needs to do with Fartmar, Vujabrick and Morrison. I kind of like Morrison but since he never plays, we might as well leverage him with the other stinkers to get someone who will actually DO something.

  • http://vinginor@aol.com onlyone laker fan in L.A.

    Mitch getting rid of car wash Kwame brilliant.
    Now Sasha ,Farmar ,are the weak links .
    Shannon is future PG farmar is trying to hard to be noticed and has little skills.
    Sasha he has been a wreck for two seasons.
    Trade these guys now Boston s bench is pretty deep
    and I would hate to have to count on these guys.