In what marked one of the few bright spots of an otherwise failed Lakers season, rookie forward Ryan Kelly provided all sorts of signs that he belonged in the NBA.
He epitomized what former Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni wanted with a so-called stretch four in his system: floor spacing and dependable outside shooting. Despite being hobbled last summer and the beginning of a training camp from a surgically repaired right foot that had not healed, Kelly impressed the Lakers brass enough both to land a spot on the roster and on the rotation. Despite being selected as the 48th in the second round of the 2012 NBA Draft, Kelly posted numbers that suggested he should have been selected higher with 8 points on 42.3 percent shooting and 33.8 percent from three-point range.
But such efforts were not enough to make the NBA’s all-rookie first or second teams, as released by a panel of 125 sportswriters and broadcasts. Instead, the first-team honors went to Michael Carter-Williams (Philadelphia 76ers), Victor Oladipo (Orlando Magic), Trey Burke (Utah Jazz), Mason Plumlee (Brooklyn Nets) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (New York Knicks). The second-team honors included Kelly Olynyk (Boston Celtics), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks), Gorgui Dieng (Minnesota Timberwolves), Cody Zeller (Charlotte Bobcats — now the Hornets) and Steven Adams (Oklahoma City Thunder).
Kelly still received 29 points, placing him 14 overall behind Ben McLemore (Sacramento Kings), Pero Antic (Atlanta Hawks) and Nick Calathes (Memphis Grizzlies). But such numbers would have only been good enough to make the NBA’s all-rookie third team, if such a thing existed. It probably did not help the Lakers (27-55) had the sixth worst NBA record. Instead, Kelly’s play will likely entice the Lakers to grant him a $1.1 million qualifying offer by June 30 to make him a restricted free agent.