Over the weekend, the Lakers reached a deal with undrafted free agent Zach Auguste for a roster spot on the Laker Summer League team.
The move, while not a major one, was met with some positive response from Lakers Twitter, myself included.
Auguste was PnR monster at ND. I really like this addition https://t.co/Mt7eX49bCW
— Jacob Rude (@JacobRude) June 25, 2016
Athletic, mobile big. PF size but a C’s game. Not a bad pickup. https://t.co/5piGpX4zbE
— Ben Rosales (@brosales12) June 25, 2016
For good reason, the move for Auguste should give fans some excitement. If nothing else, Auguste will bring another high-flying skill set to the Summer League team alongside Larry Nance.
Auguste spent four years at Notre Dame where he made a name for himself as an athletic big man who, on his day, could hang with the best big men in the country. In the NCAA Tournament two seasons ago, he battled against a front line of Karl-Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein and Trey Lyles and put up 20 points. Against Brandon Ingram’s Duke team in the ACC Tournament this season, he finished with 19 points and an absurd 22 rebounds.
The biggest talent of Auguste’s is his ability to perform in the pick-and-roll, something the Lakers lacked in their front court last season. With Tarik Black being the lone solid pick and roll guy, adding someone like Auguste signals another step forward into the modern NBA.
Lakers feedback on ZA: “Best ballscreen decisions of anyone they worked out.”
— Mike Brey (@NDMikeBrey) June 25, 2016
After multiple years of watching plodding big men like Roy Hibbert, Robert Sacre and Chris Kaman, seeing a young player with athleticism is a fresh sight and a welcome one as well.
Despite being listed as a power forward, Auguste spent much of his time at Notre Dame as the lone big man on the court. Despite being listed at 6’10” and 240 pounds, Auguste was a bit undersized but still managed 1.1 blocks per game in his senior season.
As a pick and roll player, Auguste showed his explosiveness, great hands and great mobility and footwork. Around the basket, Auguste is comfortable enough to finish in a handful of different ways even if his post game is limited. His athleticism allows for reverse lay-ups, acrobatic finishes or big dunks.
As the roll man in the pick and roll last season, Auguste scored on 73.5% of his attempts. When he wasn’t receiving the pass, he could clean up the glass, grabbing 3.3 offensive rebounds a game. His 14.5 rebounds per 40-minutes, in fact, ranked him second in Draft Express’ top 100 prospects.
But there are weaknesses to his game, evidenced by the fact he went undrafted. Despite averaging 1.1 blocks, there are loads of question marks surrounding Auguste’s defense. He’s undersized as a center, where he’d likely get playing time in the NBA. Despite being a great pick and roll player on offense, he’s struggled to defend it at times on defense.
Offensively, Auguste’s range is non-existent. According to Draft Express, he took 16 jump shots the entirety of his senior season and was 1-for-7 on shots from 17 feet and out while also never attempting a three-pointer. The lack of range to his game could raise some issues and one of the reasons projecting him as a power forward in the NBA is an issue.
However, with an offense (and a league) moving smaller and into position-less basketball, Auguste could find a niche with the Lakers. There’s always room for great pick and roll players, especially with guards like Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell who excel in both scoring and setting up teammates in the pick and roll.
After years of watching Robert Sacre miss numerous rebounds and brick mid-range jumpers, Auguste would be a welcome upgrade over the Gonzaga alum and could even establish himself as a better prospect than Tarik Black, who has a similar skillset with less height.
For an UDFA, Auguste is a great pick-up for the Lakers and could provide many highlights not just in Summer League, but in the season as well.