With the 48th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, the Lakers selected 6-11 Duke forward Ryan Kelly, who averaged 12.9 points and 5.3 rebounds in 28.9 minutes per game while shooting 42.2 percent from the field as a senior.
“He was the player we had rated the highest still on the board,” said Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak. “It’s unusual to get a guy that’s 6-11, 6-11 1/2 that has the skill that he has, so it’s a unique opportunity, a big player that has an NBA frame that can shoot the ball not only mid-range, but he can make some shots. I think he can become a consistent three-point shooter in the NBA as well.”
L.A. may have found the rare second round pick that can fit into a specific role right away, as Kelly’s ability as a stretch four in the form of New Orleans’ Ryan Anderson is increasingly coveted around the NBA.
“There’s an opportunity there, a guy that can shoot the basketball with the size and length that I have,” said Kelly. “I’m going to have to earn everything that I get, but I think my ability to shoot the basketball and my ball friendliness for a guy my size – I can pass a little bit, dribble the ball a little bit – are the things that are going to allow me to play on a team the Lakers.”
A foot injury that limited Kelly to 23 games in his fourth year under Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski resulted in offseason surgery; he’s 11 weeks into a rehabilitation program that was originally scheduled to last 12 weeks. Kupchak was asked if the injury were a concern.
“No,” he replied. “(Kelly) was cleared to play last week, but I don’t think he’s going to play for another week or two.”
“(I) just this week I got x-rays that showed full healing in my foot,” added Kelly. “I feel great, and I’m ready to get back into it … Every team that I talked to felt like my injury was something that wasn’t going to be (lasting), that once I got healthy I was going to be healthy for a long time.”
All in all, Kelly couldn’t have been more happy to hear his name called as the newest member of the Lakers.
“I feel unbelievably blessed,” he offered. “I’ve been handed a great opportunity, and I look forward to taking advantage of it. It’s hard to put into words how excited I am.”
Unbelievably excited to be a part of the @Lakers ! Can't wait to work hard and earn my spot! Very blessed!
— Ryan Kelly (@RyanKelly34) June 28, 2013