(image courtesy Mark Travis of Silver Screen and Roll)
Julian Khazzouh is one of five names that Australian National Basketball League fans will know in the 2012 NBA Summer League. Whilst his Los Angeles Lakers teammate, Ater Majok has not made as much of an impression, the former Sydney Kings big man has performed a very nice audition in his final Summer League game.
Against the Adam Morrison-led Los Angeles Clippers, Khazzouh put up 16 points, including 10 points in the first seven minutes of the game. His perimeter shooting was impressive, as he connected on 4/5 three-point shots and 6/7 field goals overall, which included a nice drive to the basket and a cleanup on a teammate’s miss. He added six rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block to his stat line.
As noted by Mark Travis of Lakers blog, Silver Screen and Roll, the Lakers may have found a jewel in the rough in big Jules:
Ironically, Khazzouh’s calling cards in the NBL are his strong rebounding (he led the league in rebounds last year with 10.8 per game) and post play, two things he didn’t do much of in Vegas, while he only shot eight threes all of last season for the Kings (he shot eight 3’s in three games with the Lakers). Jules admits that his game is probably a mix of the things he showed in the NBL and what he showed against the Clippers but he thinks his fit in the NBA is as a stretch big.
“I’m more of an outside guy than an inside guy,” Khazzouh said. “You guys have some massive bodies here so I’ll stay on the three point line and shoot the ball if it’s my shot. If it’s not, I’ll pass the ball and set a screen and do whatever I need to do.”
Khazzouh used Pau Gasol, who Jules noted has a scruffy beard like himself, as an example of someone who plays a rough interior game in international play but prefers to let his skills shine when facing off against the athletic competition that the NBA offers.
“Here it’s a track meet,” Jules said, noting what he called a “massive” difference in style of play between the NBA and NBL. “Whoever can run the fastest and jump the highest is usually one of the better players. In saying that there is also an extremely high level of skill here as well. I think it’s the total package, the NBA game.”
The thing is, with Steve Nash now coming on board, and the ball-hungry Kobe Bryant in the starring role, the Lakers need perimeter-oriented players who can hit the spot-up jumpshot. If Khazzouh markets himself as that player, he could very well luck himself into a seat on the bottom of the roster. Of course, the reality is that Khazzouh is more than likely just a big body for the the Lakers’ SL team and potentially for training camp, but he hasn’t done himself any injustice in his play. With the rumours of the Lakers seeking Dwight Howard — or even if they retain Andrew Bynum — the other big man on the court would need to be one with an outside touch.
“I can only imagine the first day. Walking in, seeing Kobe, Steve Nash, maybe Dwight,” Khazzouh said. “That would be the best experience you could have as a basketball player.”
I’ve pulled together the highlights of Khazzouh’s made baskets in the Clippers game. As you can see, he looked more than confident in knocking down the three point shot — an attempt he increasingly attempted toward the end of his time with the Kings.
Whilst Khazzouh started his third and final game for the Lakers, he came off the bench in the prior game (San Antonio Spurs), contributing eight points, four rebounds and two assists in 33 minutes. In his first game, against the Miami Heat, Jules grabbed two rebounds in 10 minutes.
Similarly, Majok played in three games, starting in one. His biggest impact was against the Golden State Warriors on 13 July, where he grabbed seven rebounds and blocked two shots in 27 minutes. He also managed eight personal fouls in that time — no doubt a concern to the Lakers. Summer League players foul out on 10 fouls.