Lakers in summer league: Robert Upshaw says he has matured since Washington dismissal

first_imgHe conceded he is “not in any good shape at all” after only playing pickup basketball eight times since his dismissal. Upshaw acknowledged a learning curve both on defensive rotations and familiarity with Byron Scott’s Princeton-based offense. “I’m still struggling to do a lot of things that I should have learned a long time ago,” Upshaw said. “But instead I had to mature first and get over the things in order to do that. Even though it’s a learning process, I still think I can keep up with these guys.”But can Upshaw can keep up with his vow that he will only spark headlines for on-court heroics? The Lakers and 29 other front offices will watch closely.A new roleThe Lakers have encouraged second-year forward Tarik Black to add a mid-range jumper to his dependable hustle on defense and rebounding. Despite working on his shot all summer, Black sounded unsure how much he will expand his game in summer league.“That’s going to keep me at this level, my rebounding, hustle plays and playing defense,” Black said. “I’m always going to work on that and utilitze it. But as far as getting better, we have so much talent. It’s tough to say how much I’ll use it.” Injury updateThe Lakers expect guard Jabari Brown to miss the first two games of Summer League in Las Vegas on Friday and Saturday after he was diagnosed on Tuesday with a small laceration in his left eye. He was poked in his left eye during Monday’s practice, causing him to sit out Tuesday’s session.Film studyHis childhood affection did not just give Anthony Brown familiarity on the Lakers’ storied history or Kobe Bryant’s career. It also helped him narrow how he wants to model his game.Brown modeled former Lakers small forward Trevor Ariza from afar as his role as a defender and outside shooter helping the Lakers to the 2009 NBA title. Brown also has studied Toronto forward DeMarre Carroll and Milwaukee forward Khris Middleton as so-called “3 and D” players.“They don’t try to do anything they can’t do,” said Brown, who starred at Ocean View. “They keep it simple. They’re efficient.”Attendance updateLakers guard Dwight Buycks was excused for his second consecutive practice on Tuesday because of a funeral Upshaw’s only security entails practicing for the Lakers this week followed by games beginning on Friday against the Minnesota Timberwolves. But the Lakers could use Upshaw’s talent.The Lakers landed two-time NBA all-star center Roy Hibbert from Indiana, but his shot-blocking expertise cannot mask his offensive limitations. The Lakers could trade backup center Robert Sacre to unload salary. Meanwhile, the 7-foot-2, 264-pound Upshaw averaged 10.9 points, a team-leading 8.2 rebounds and set the Huskies’ season shot-blocking record (85). As for his off-court behavior, the 21-year-old Upshaw declined to share what led to his dismissal. But he said he has leaned on his family, agent and a psychologist he visits regularly.“I matured and learned,” he said. “I learned things about authority, how to listen instead of talk and how not to have excuses.”Upshaw also learned on Monday that he needs to polish his game. The obstacles Robert Upshaw faced once he stepped on the Lakers’ practice court seemed far more serious than usual rookie hiccups. Once Upshaw begins summer league play with the Lakers on Friday in Las Vegas, he will have to prove worthy of latching onto an NBA team after he struggled to stay on two collegiate programs.Both Fresno State (2012-13) and the University of Washington (2014-15) dismissed Upshaw amid unspecified violations of team rules, causing a projected first-round pick to go undrafted. He sounded aware no one will excuse any poor behavior as whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.“I had the opportunity come back to me every time I was let go,” said Upshaw, who missed the 2013-14 season because of NCAA transfer rules. “It seems like if I don’t make this, I’m done.”center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more