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Will Johnson-Odom and Crowder Make It in the NBA?

By Jackson Marquette Tickets Staff Writer | Posted Friday, August 24

As the off-season nears its conclusion, Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder continue to battle for roster spots on their respective NBA teams. The dynamic duo from Marquette were both picked up in this year's draft. Both went to Dallas, but Johnson-Odom's rights were sold to the Lakers soon after. While both have signed their rookie contracts, neither has been offered a position. As summer practice continues, Crowder seems to be the more likely of the two to make it, though Johnson-Odom has improved since his poor showing in the five game Summer League.

On paper, Crowder has done everything right since being picked up in the second round of the draft by the Mavericks. Coming in predominately as a back-court defender from the Golden Eagles, Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle said he expects Crowder to play on the wing, both defensively and offensively. It’s a tough transition for any defensive player, but Crowder has already shown his ability to adapt to the new role.

The six-foot-six rookie had his first chance at proving himself at the pre-draft combine, where he benched the most of any of the attending players. That upper body strength was a factor in the Mavs choice to call him up with their thirty-fifth overall pick, Carlisle most likely already plotting Crowder's possible effectiveness on the outside. The coach had his first chance to see how his gamble paid off during the Las Vegas Summer League, in which Crowder more than proved he was becoming comfortable with his new position. Defensively, Crowder held down every inch of the wood during the week long league. He held his man-defense flawlessly, but still managed to put up impressive numbers underneath the hoop with rebounds. Equally as impressive was his output on the offensive side, which saw Crowder hitting well-timed shots, and bringing down second-chance rebounds.

Johnson-Odom Is On The Bubble

Johnson-Odom also had a successful combine showing, earning merits as the most athletic player there, but has not lived up to expectations in Los Angeles. With just one available roster spot left, the Lakers will decide between the former Golden Eagle and Gonzaga graduate Robert Scarce to finalize their lineup, but that decision seems far from obvious, as both have had their ups and downs this off-season.

Johnson-Odom seems to hold the edge, however, according to some inside sources. While Scarce had a much better performance at the Summer League, staff at the program reportedly believe that Johnson-Odom has much more talent to be discovered, despite his poor numbers in Las Vegas. DJO shot just twenty-three percent from the field in the league, but a solid defensive effort made up some of the difference. And, while he is undersized as a guard, his speed and agility provide a great catalyst for improvement throughout the year, even if he does play bench the majority of the time. Robert Scarce, meanwhile, averaged a respectable nine points per night in the Summer League, though his hesitation and less-than-expected aggressiveness were a major issue in his passing and rebounding game.
 

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