Lakers have a lot of reasons to be excited about rookie Devontae Cacok

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Lakers have a lot of reasons to be excited about rookie Devontae Cacok


Lakers have a lot of reasons to be excited about rookie Devontae Cacok

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The Los Angeles Lakers recently cut rookie Zach Norvell to make room for 23-year-old big man Devontae Cacok, who signed a two-way contract.

Cacok, who played four seasons for the UNC Wilmington Seahawks in college, was an undrafted free agent that impressed in the NBA summer league. He averaged 20.2 points and 14.3 rebounds per 36 minutes when combining his play in the Sacramento and Las Vegas summer leagues.

He joins Kostas Antetokounmpo as the second two-way player for the Lakers. ESPN’s Bobby Marks reported that Cacok will have 32 days of service available for Los Angeles during the 2019-20 season.

His first day of NBA eligibility is a road game against the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night. Considering that Lakers superstar Anthony Davis was limping and is listed as questionable with a sore ankle, it is possible Cacok may get some frontcourt minutes with JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard.

While shorter than other players at his position, Cacok has been an excellent rebounder for the South Bay Lakers. His rebound percentage (24.4 percent) currently ranks second-best among all qualified players in the G League.

He had 19 points and 15 rebounds against the Northern Arizona Suns when they played on December 13. Despite only starting two games, he has had a double-double in 12 of his first 14 appearances.

Cacok’s rebounding has always been one of his strengths, as he led all NCAA players with a whopping 13.5 rebounds per game as a junior. Last season as a senior, his defensive rebound percentage (33.4 percent) was No. 1 overall among all college players.

But on the offensive side of the ball, Cacok has long been a reliable source of offense. As a sophomore, he had the best field goal percentage (80.0 percent) in the NCAA. The big man was 167-of-196 (85.2 percent) on attempts at the rim during that 2016-17 season. (He also won his conference’s Defensive Player of the Year award during that campaign).

More recently, Cacok was 15-for-18 (83.3 percent) as the roll man in pick-and-roll during summer league, per Synergy. He was the most efficient player on high pick-and-rolls among all players who had at least 10 possessions.

He is currently 19-for-23 (82.6 percent) on these opportunities for the South Bay Lakers.

While his height may indicate he should play more as a wing than as a power forward or center in the NBA, getting some run at the next level will provide a more accurate indication of his upside as a pro.

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