Mar 22, 2013; Austin, TX, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers forward Trevor Mbakwe (32) shoots against UCLA Bruins forward David Wear (12) during the first half in the second round of the 2013 NCAA tournament at the Frank Erwin Center. Mandat...
Mar 22, 2013; Austin, TX, USA; Minnesota Golden Gophers forward Trevor Mbakwe (32) shoots against UCLA Bruins forward David Wear (12) during the first half in the second round of the 2013 NCAA tournament at the Frank Erwin Center. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports
6’8″, 236 lbs., Power Forward, Senior, University of Minnesota, 24 years old
2012-13 Season Stats
24.9 minutes, 10.0 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, 56.5% field goal, 61.4% free throw
The best way to describe Trevor Mbakwe’s game is tenacious. Both offensively and defensively, Mbakwe is strong, big, and athletic. Despite his 6’8 frame, he was one of the best rebounders in the nation last year, pulling down almost 9 a game. His motor runs non-stop. Match his ridiculous athleticism with his massive 7’4 wing span and you have the physical tools of a star.
Defensively, he’s just as ferocious. He blocked 1.4 shots a game, thanks in large part to his wingspan and his leaping ability. He also did not foul out of a game in his senior year. He led the Big Ten in rebounding both his junior and senior season, an impressive feat with Cody Zeller (among others) in the same league.
Mbakwe could be the type of high energy forward that comes off the bench for a huge dunk, alley oop, or rejection to help fire the team up.
Simply, he has a ton of baggage. First, he suffered a torn ACL early in his junior season. When he came back, he wasn’t the same player, averaging less points, rebounds, blocks while shooting worse from the field and the free throw line. He did not look like the same player before and after the injury.
Next, he had multiple run-ins with law enforcement. First, he was accused of sexual assault in 2009, violated a restraining order in 2011, and was suspended from the team for a DUI in 2012. His last arrest for a DUI nearly cost him a spot on the team, something that is very alarming for NBA scouts and GMs.
On the court, he’s undersized as a power forward. His offensive game is very raw and he relies mainly on his athleticism for put-backs and rebounds. While that worked in college, when he faces more athletic big men, he won’t dominate so easily. He also lacks a jumper, nor the confidence to take a shot farther than 10 feet out.
Too often in games, Mbakwe would disappear. 14 times his senior year he took five shots or less in a game. Maintaining focus over 48 minutes could be an issue for Mbakwe also.
Where he fits with the Lakers
I’m not sure he does fit with the Lakers. We already have an athletic, raw big man in Jordan Hill. While they don’t have a plethora of big men, I’m not sure Mbakwe is the best fit. They need a stretch four more than the need an undersized four. Still, he could bring them some energy off the bench with Hill if the Lakers took him.
Jacob Rude – I do think Mbakwe will find a place in the NBA and be a solid role player, but I don’t think that place will be on the Lakers. The larger needs at small forward and finding a stretch four seem to be more glaring than drafting an undersized big man with lots of baggage.
Caleb Cottrell – I’ll pass. Mbakwe is intriguing, but the Lakers have a couple athletic big men that can’t shoot already — looking at you Dwight Howard and Jordan Hill. The Lakers could use an energy guy, but I don’t want to take a risk on him when we have more pressing needs, as Jacob said above.