After playing college basketball for four season with Memphis (2010-2013) and Kansas (2013-2014) Tarik Black went undrafted last June.
While Black would play for the Houston Rockets’ Summer League team and later sign an NBA deal with the Texas team, he’d be cut from the roster in December after the Rockets decided to sign Josh Smith following his release from the Detroit Pistons.
This was a move the Lakers welcomed, as Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss decided to claim the big man off waivers.
Now, still in his rookie season, Black is starting to show some real promise.
Over the past 5 games, Black has averaged 8.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.0 assist in just 23.2 minutes per game.
The 23-year-old was also the best Laker on the floor on Thursday night versus the Utah Jazz as he scored 13 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, dished out 2 assists and came up with 1 steal in 30 minutes of play.
“Tarik was exactly what he is [tonight],” Byron Scott said after the game, according to Lakers Nation. “Energy, play hard, hell of a job defensively. You know, that’s what we expect of him every single night. I thought he played great tonight.”
While the rookie obviously still needs to improve in certain areas, Scott said that Black “can do a lot of things that a lot of our bigs can’t do.”
“[He has] athleticism, the way he gets up and down the floor, the way he communicates on the defensive end, and he continues to get better at that,” Scott said. “So, obviously some of the things that we have to continue to work on is his jump shot from 15 feet or so and then obviously his post up [game].
“Other than that, if he continues to bring the energy every night, he’ll be successful.”
While Scott isn’t sure what exactly Black’s “ceiling” is right now, he does know who the rookie reminds him of: Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried.
“I have no idea [how good he can be]. I really don’t. It depends on his work ethic and what he’s willing to put into it to be the player that he can be,” Scott said. “But [athletically], I kinda look at him in the same mold as Kenneth Faried.
“[Tarik’s] a guy that’s just all over the place, he just plays super hard. His real true skill is how hard he plays. If he can develop the 15 footer and if he can develop a post game, he can be a hell of a basketball player.”
For comparison purposes, since joining the Lakers, Black is averaging 11.1 points and 11.1 rebounds per game (3.7 offensive) per 36 minutes, while Faried is putting up 15.6 points and 11.6 rebounds (3.9 offensive) when using the same minutes projection.
However, the major difference lies in the $50 million Faried will earn over the next four seasons, while Black is set to be paid around $2 million over the next two years.
That’s if the Lakers decide to hang onto him, of course.
Next season, Black is on the books for a non-guaranteed $845,059, per Basketball Insiders. The Lakers also will have the ability to extend a $1.8 million qualifying offer to Black in the summer of 2016, which would make him a restricted free agent.
So, all things considered, the Lakers are currently in a great position with Black. He looks promising so far and will hardly take up any of the team’s cap space if they decide to hold onto him going forward.
And judging by his progress so far, one would imagine that number 28 will be wearing purple and gold for many years to come.