The Los Angeles Lakers opened up training camp on Oct. 1 following the team's media day, and most of the excitement surrounded the team's biggest offseason acquisition, Dwight Howard. Given the status of his back injury, the team will need significant minutes from its corps of reserve centers early on.
Which bigs will make the team and end up contributing? Here's a breakdown in an attempt to sift through the Lakers' log jam in the middle:
Jordan Hill is the incumbent, but rookie second rounder Robert Sacre looks to be the frontrunner in the battle for the primary backup to Howard. He started in place of the injured superstar in the Lakers' first preseason contest and has tremendous size and defensive presence. Given the Lakers' newfound depth and scoring potential off the bench at other positions, Sacre looks to be a lock to make the team.
Hill was the Lakers' late-season acquisition from 2011-2012 in the trade involving veteran Derek Fisher. He came on strong late in the year and in the postseason to provide energy off the bench. Though he's more of a power forward than a true center, he's listed as such on the team's roster.
A back injury is threatening to derail Hill's progress early in the preseason, but if it doesn't hamper him much, he should challenge Sacre for the top backup spot.
For those keeping score at home, Sacre finished the Oct. 7 preseason game against the Golden State Warriors with six points, two rebounds and four turnovers in 18 minutes of action. Hill played 20 minutes and collected 10 points, three rebounds, three assists, and one blocked shot with only one turnover in the contest.
On the chopping block: Ronnie Aguilar
Ronnie Agulilar is a long shot to make the team, not only because he is still raw in terms of his skill set, but also because the Lakers are so long in the frontcourt already. Power forward Pau Gasol can shift into the role of center, so that creates even less of a demand for a 7'1 project like Aguilar.
Aguilar was a late signee to the training camp roster, so it stands to reason that he will be cut as the roster gets trimmed down. He'll have to impress the coaching staff substantially to have a shot.
Odd man out: Greg Somogyi
The 7'3 giant from Budapest has about the same chance to make the final Lakers' squad as the fans sitting courtside. The former UC Santa Barbara Gaucho didn't exactly impress during his career playing against mid-major opponents in the Big West Conference, averaging 3.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks over his collegiate career.
Somogyi is D-League bound at best.
For your viewing pleasure, here's a quick reminder of exactly who these guys are vying to back up: