Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Los Angeles Lakers [Print without images]

Monday, December 26, 2011
Goudelock is early roster rotation winner; Kapono, Barnes the early losers

By Dave McMenamin

Up until the point in the game where Kobe Bryant turned the ball over with less than 20 seconds to go rather than waiting for a Chicago foul, the most shocking sight of the Lakers' season opening loss to the Bulls on Sunday was Bryant being subbed out for Andrew Goudelock in the first quarter.

Eight days before the Bulls game, Goudelock was assigned to the Los Angeles D-Fenders, the Lakers' D-League affiliate, for a game. Six days before the Bulls game, the Lakers played their exhibition opener against the Los Angeles Clippers and Goudelock received the dreaded DNP - CD.

Yet, there he was on Sunday, playing 13 meaningful minutes in a game that actually counted.

The shocking part about it was that Goudelock, selected No. 46 out of the College of Charleston after a four-year NCAA career when he averaged 18.4 points, seemed like the lowest guard on the depth chart. Darius Morris, selected five picks ahead of Goudelock in the second round, was supposed to be the rookie that would play time this of year at point guard with the 37-year-old Derek Fisher having to deal with a rapid-fire condensed season.

Goudelock can thank the Clippers' DeAndre Jordan for opening up an opportunity for him. While Goudelock sat out the first exhibition game, it was Jordan who blocked Bryant and caused the Lakers star to hurdle to the ground and tear a ligament in his wrist while trying to break his fall. Suddenly, the Lakers were without a backup 2-guard for the second exhibition game while Bryant sat out to rest the wrist and Jason Kapono was plugged into the starting lineup in his place.

Even though Morris did some good things with 11 points, three rebounds and three assists in his preseason debut, he was a point guard with two other point guards in Fisher and Steve Blake ahead of him on the depth chart.

But Goudelock, who was fourth in the country with a 23.4 points-per-game average his senior year, certainly knew how to fill it up.

"When we drafted Goudelock, we drafted him to see if we could develop him into a point guard and when I realized Kobe wasn’t going to play in that second preseason game, I said, ‘You know what? This kid has played well as kind of a 2-guard.’ Because, in order for him to get some reps, we threw him in as the 2-guard during practices," said coach Mike Brown after Goudelock's six-point performance Sunday, when he went 2-for-3 on 3-pointers. "He’s just another ball-handler out on the floor. He’s a very good shooter, he can create his own shot and he’s a four-year college guy that’s not afraid."

Brown said he didn't make the decision to promote Goudelock to Bryant's backup until "the very last second" and admitted that he hesitated when he walked down the bench to sub in the 23-year-old rookie for the first time Sunday.

Even though he went back and forth with the choice before he ultimately made it, Brown did not sound as if he would go back on his initial instinct.

"I thought the guys that played, they gave us a solid performance," Brown said. "So, if I feel it’s necessary to make a change then I will, but right now at least, I don’t have any thoughts of doing that. We’ll see as time goes on."

A change could become necessary if Goudelock strings together a few poor performances, but for now he has the backup job over Kapono who the Lakers sought out as a free agent signing after coming close to bringing him in before several times during his eight-year career.

Brown, while looking to define roles at the small forward position, stuck to his plan of bringing Metta World Peace off the bench and awarded the starting job to Devin Ebanks. Just like he feels he only needs one backup 2 for Bryant, Brown has World Peace as the lone backup 3 for Ebanks, which means that Matt Barnes will be picking up DNP-CDs along with Kapono for the time being. Brown has also said he only likes to play three bigs, so when Andrew Bynum's suspension is lifted, expect Troy Murphy to stay on the bench in his warm-ups too.

Goudelock called the last week and a half, "like a 360," but he hasn't gotten dizzy or lost any focus from the experience.

"With every great team, everybody has to know their roles," said Goudelock. "I’m not a superstar. I’m not trying to be a superstar. I’m trying to come in here and do what I’m supposed to do which is to play defense, play as hard as I can and make shots when they’re open. If I see something out there, I’m going to take it. He’s given me a little bit of freedom to play my game and for me, that’s my role."

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.