Lakers Look To Rookie Andrew Goudelock
The Los Angeles Lakers do not have the record they want and they are missing some of the offensive punch of prior seasons, but are the suggestions of bringing back the retired Allen Iverson or the amnestied Gilbert Arenas really the solution? Head coach Mike Brown can’t wait to find out, and he has been turning to his existing roster for answers.
“I have been playing Andrew Goudelock and he has contributed, but he is a rookie and he has to play for us because he is a ball-skill guy and we need as many of those guys as we can have in the line-up,” said Brown. “So he has been playing heavy minutes for us. We are relying on our rookies for some help on the perimeter.”
Things haven’t been all bad for the fifth-place Lakers who currently hold a 16-12 record and only sit two games behind the Clippers in the Pacific Division. This veteran team just expects more.
“Defensively, we are doing some decent things,” explained Derek Fisher. “We are holding a lot of teams to 90 points, which is great, but we are only scoring about 90 points, so we have to figure out how to clean up some offensive execution and be able to put the ball in the basket at a higher percentage.”
For most teams, game planning for the Lakers remains accepting that Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum will get theirs and you can’t let the rest of the team go off. The Lakers problem is outside of their big three, scoring has been hard to come by.
“You know what those big three can do and you can’t let a Fisher, Barnes, Steve Blake, or Goudelock come in and have a big game,” explained Raptors head coach Dwane Casey. “Those guys are the wild cards for them coming off the bench, whether it’s Barnes, Goudelock, or Fisher knocking shots down.”
Blake has been the Lakers’ best guard off the benc, averaging seven points per game, and when he was injured against Utah on January 11, Coach Brown was forced to give his rookies a shot. The 21-year-old guard Darius Morris got in first, but he only managed to average 3.6 points in 17.7 minutes over seven games and couldn’t give the Lakers the offensive boost they needed. On January 25, Brown turned to Goudelock in a game against the Clippers and the 23-year-old rookie guard scored 14 points in 20 minutes. Over the next five games, Goudelock averaged 11.8 points, hit on 9-17 three-point attempts and earned himself a spot in the rotation.
“Andrew Goudelock is doing well,” said Derek Fisher. “He is coming in and providing some offense for us off the bench at times. The more he gets the opportunity to play and learn by being around our group every day, he will continue to get better terms of running the team and learning how to be a point guard, but he has been extremely helpful to us. Especially when Blake was out, he played a lot of good quality minutes for us. He will keep getting better.”
Goudelock understood his role from the start and has done a good job fulfilling it so far. When Blake returned, his minutes dropped, but in Toronto Brown turned to Goudelock again and he contributed seven points in 16 minutes going 1-3 from deep in the Lakers victory. Brown knows the Lakers need his offensive production.
“I put Andrew back in there with the second unit so he has to contribute, we get something from Steve Blake and then the reality of it is Goudelock has the ability to shoot threes, play pick-and-roll, he has a medium game and every once in a while he can get to the rim. There is some pressure there for him to step up and make plays.”
“They want me to score,” said Goudelock. “That’s what they told me they wanted me to do. That’s what my job is going to be, that’s what I am used to doing, and that’s what I am really good at.”
“I think he understands his role,” said Pau Gasol. “He is a talented two-guard. He is not really a point guard because he is such a scoring threat. He has a nice rhythm to his game, a good shot, and he plays with confidence. He gets in the lane and has a really good floater. He is doing what he is asked to do.”
The young guard has aspirations of being more than just a scoring threat and eventually becoming the point guard Fisher envisions. It will take time however.
“I still want to be a facilitator because I am going to be a smaller guard,” said Goudelock. “I’ve been a point guard this year, so being a facilitator is something I am going to develop. My scoring is going to be there, but if I am going to be a point guard moving forward, I have to learn to be more of a facilitator. I don’t think that will be a problem as I averaged a lot of assists in college. As I get a little bit more comfortable at this level, it will come.
“I know a lot of people didn’t have high expectations for me coming in but I had high expectations for myself and I am living up to them for the most part. I have a lot of goals that I am trying to achieve, so I am just going to keep working hard.”
If the Lakers were not such a veteran team with expectations of reaching the conference finals every season, time for Goudelock to develop would not be a concern, but here the pressure to perform starts immediately, this isn’t a team building for the future.
“At least he is in the rotation which is more than the other two young guys that we have can say,” explained Gasol. “He just has to continue to work and not be satisfied with just playing a couple of minutes and play well when he is out there.”
Is Goudelock the missing offensive punch needed from the Lakers bench? Over the last 10 games, an average 8.2 points in 17.7 minutes while hitting on 46 percent of his three-point attempts would indicate Goudelock could be the biggest offensive threat the team has off the bench. It is not going to be easy for the Lakers’ brass to find a free agent veteran guard who will provide them more than what their rookie is giving them right now.