Shaquille O’Neil. Magic Johnson. Corey Brewer. Brandon Bass. Billy Ray Bates. What do those five guys have in common? All five have played at least one game for the Lakers. In fact, according to Basketball Reference, 402 have played for the franchise. From Kobe Bryant to Jerome Henderson, each of those players, no matter their impact on the team, can say they played for one of the most iconic teams of all-time.
Chinemelu Elonu and Brad Newley can’t say that. They can’t even say that they’ve played in the NBA. While both have fashioned international careers for themselves, neither one has been able to get a shot in the league. One thing they do have going for them though is that both have their draft rights owned by the Lakers.
Neither will likely ever suit up for Los Angeles but shouldn’t we as die-hard fans learn a little bit about the players that our team owns the draft rights to? It’s the only right thing to do, right? After all, this is the slowest time of the year for basketball. Football just started, but obviously, no one in LA cares about that. I guess the Dodgers are still good, but that’s not why you clicked on this article. You clicked because you bleed purple and gold and you couldn’t wait to get your hands on any Laker related content.
Trust me, I’ve been there.
So let’s take a look first at Chinemelu Elonu. Elonu was drafted with the 59th pick in the 2009 draft. Yeah, it’s been that long. He played in college at Texas A&M and actually graduated from there with a degree in Agricultural Leadership and Development. After it became apparent that he wasn’t going to sign a deal with the Lakers, Chinemelu signed a two year deal with CAI Zaragoza, a team that plays in Liga ACB. He averaged a respectable 6.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per game there, but left after one season.
Since then, he’s played for seven different teams, including playing on the Lakers Summer League squad in 2009 and 2012. Most recently, he played for AEK Athens, and most importantly, he had this killer highlight video that you should definitely take a look at. If the Lakers ever want a guy who can dunk the ball in transition, they need to look no further than Chinemelu Elonu.
Brad Newley has a very similar story, but he actually wasn’t drafted by the Lakers. Newley was picked 54th by the Houston Rockets in the 2007 NBA Draft. For reference, other notable names from that draft include Kevin Durant, Marc Gasol, and Yi Jianlian. His draft rights were acquired by the Lakers nearly ten years later in the Marcelo Huertas-Tyler Ennis swap. In that ten years, he has played for eight teams and most recently played for AEK Athens on a loan from the Sydney Kings.
Before he was drafted by the Rockets, he played for three years on the Townsville Crocodiles, which is the greatest name for a team ever. He also played on the Australian Olympic team in 2008 and 2012. Newley, like Chinemelu, also has a pretty awesome highlight video from his most recent season with the Sydney Kings, where he played with former Lakers champion Josh Powell.
Unless something horrible happens to the players on the Lakers roster this year, Newley and Elonu will likely never sign with the team. But these two have made rather respectable careers for themselves and they’ll continue to do so, even if they don’t end up being one of the lucky few to be able to say they’ve played for the Lakers.