The 2011 offseason is finally here and the first step to winning the 2012 title is the NBA Draft. With a week left, Orlando Magic Daily will profile some players the Magic might be looking at.
David Lighty is one of those grinder players that conference opponents keep saying to themselves: "He is still playing?" The Ohio State teams Lighty played on featured Greg Oden, Mike Conley, Jamar Butler, Kosta Koufos, Jared Sullinger and Evan Turner. He was never THE guy, but he always played, doing the little things a team needs to do to be successful.
Lighty averaged 12.1 points per game and shot 42.9 percent on 3-pointers for a 54.5 percent effective field goal percentage, good for 12th in the defensive-minded Big Ten. He was also seventh in the Big Ten in steal rate (2.8 percent) getting 2.8 steals per game. He averaged fewer than 2.0 steals per game in just one year at Ohio State (his freshman year in 2007). Steal are not indicative of how good a player is defensively, but it should not be overlooked.
What you might have to like more about Lighty is that he was on the floor when Ohio State played its best. He posted a +497 last year, sharing the floor most of the time with Sullinger, and a +420, sharing the floor with Turner. Lighty does nothing spectacular, but knows how to play a role and knows what it takes to be on a winner. For a team drafting late in the second round, that could be key to find.
The Good: Lighty does a little bit of everything. He was a superb role player in college and that is likely the role he would expect and accept in the NBA, if he can make it. Steals are not indicative of a good defender and he had Oden, Koufos and Sullinger behind him on defense, but Lighty is a good defender.
He got the call on the best wing players of the Big Ten throughout his career to protect the stars and played well. The Buckeyes posted a 92.9 defensive efficiency last year (tops in the Big Ten) and a 93.8 defensive efficiency the year before. Ohio State has always been a good defensive team, but Lighty was present when Ohio State was likely at its best under Thad Motta.
What you have to like about him though is that he is a true grinder. He has physical and athletic limitations, but he fit his role and did not complain. When you are picking 52nd in the draft, you are not trying to get a star. You are trying to get whatever you can really. If a guy can come in and be a grinder and not have to adjust to that role, even better. Lighty is going to do whatever his coaches ask him to do and do it happily.
The Bad: Still, why do you want to spend a draft pick on a guy who is not going to be able to create for himself when needed. That is not the role the Magic want for him, but we saw how Courtney Lee was able to create a little for himself. That is just simply not Lighty's game.
Then there is the athleticism issue. He tore his ACL his junior year and received a redshirt and has yet to regain the explosiveness he had before it. Anyone drafting him is going to hope he can be a defensive stopper or assist on some of the shooting guards in the league. But he just may not have that athleticism and quickness to do that anymore. His past injuries will also limit him offensively to being a spot-up shooter.
The question then becomes: Does he have NBA 3-point range? He was a solid shooter in college, but not a knock-down shooter. If he cannot make that shot, since he is not much of a creator, he is going to be in a lot of trouble in the NBA.
Draft Sites Say:
NBADraft.net: "At 6-foot-6 216, Lighty Jr. has adequate size for a swingman ... One of the most experienced players in this year's draft class, and has been exposed to winning ... Plays very smart and mistake-free basketball ... Functional athlete, but certainly not anything special for NBA standards ... He doesn't make mistakes, but he's also not going to be a risk taker ... Won't be asked to create offense in the NBA, and he only possesses an average handle and first step."
Final Thoughts: At 52 it is going to be difficult to get a true impact player. In fact, it is going to be hard to get any type of player at all. Orlando is going to look for somebody who is going to accept a small role and work hard. I think Lighty can do that. And if he can make 3-pointers and improve his defense, he could very realistically find a spot on this team. I think he is that kind of guy.
But it is going to be all up to Lighty to prove himself no matter where he goes.
The Magic are sure to like that he has been on winning teams at Ohio State throughout his career, that he has dealt with adversity and injury and bounced back and that he has experience from playing all four years. He is going to have to show he can defend more athletic players and that his foot is fully healed (not only did he tear his ACL, but he has also broken his foot in the past).
If he can do that, I have no doubt he will work hard and surprise whoever drafts him.
Photo via DayLife.com.