- Dave McMenamin, ESPN Staff Writer
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About a year before Christian Eyenga joined the Lakers via trade, he made his mark on the franchise by dunking on Pau Gasol.
After being part of the purple and gold for the final third of the 2011-12 season, that dunk on Gasol remains the most lasting moment Eyenga has had involving the Lakers, which tells you just about all you need to know about his role as the 14th man on a 14-man roster.
8.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 1.0 apg, 0.0 spg, 1.0 bpg, 1.0 tpg, 50.0 FG%, 0.0 3-P%, 100.0 FT%*
Eyenga made the Lakers’ pregame layup lines must-see material once again, making up for the absence of Shannon Brown and proving that his “Skyenga” nickname is well deserved. Eyenga remained a bit of a mystery to Lakers fans outside of his pregame dunks and funky No. 88 uniform as he didn't even have an introductory press conference after being acquired in the Ramon Sessions deal at the trade deadline because of travel issues leaving the D-League's Canton Charge and getting to L.A. Still, in Eyenga's one game played with the Lakers in the regular season finale (* = that's why Eyenga's statistics line looks a little funny, because it only reflects one game), he made the most of it and scored eight points in 19 minutes against the Sacramento Kings.
Perhaps my favorite statistic associated with the Lakers’ season was the fact that Eyenga speaks more languages (five) than he played in games (four – three in the playoffs, one in the regular season) since joining the team in March. As fun as that stat might be, it means that Eyenga was not able to carve out a spot in Mike Brown’s rotation. The Lakers found Eyenga to be more valuable with their D-League affiliate, the L.A. D-Fenders, where he averaged 33.0 minutes, 12.2 points and 5.0 rebounds on 53.4 percent shooting in six regular season games. But even Eyenga’s D-Fenders stint didn’t go as smoothly as he would have liked as his numbers dropped to just 10.4 minutes, 2.8 points and 1.2 rebounds on 41.7 percent shooting in five D-League playoff games.
Prospects for 2012-13
Eyenga has one year remaining on his rookie contract, worth approximately $1.2 million. If the Lakers do not re-sign Matt Barnes and or Devin Ebanks, he could try to find a role as Metta World Peace's backup at small forward. The Lakers coaching staff has also worked with the 6-7, 210-pound Eyenga on his guard skills in hopes of him being able to play some backup shooting guard in the future as well. It will be an important season for Eyenga as he'll try to establish an identity as a reliable player in his third year in the league.
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.