While the Finals are set to resume on Sunday, the Lakers are like every other team not named Heat or Spurs and in full on draft preparation. This past week they held their first large workout which included several players projected to be lottery picks as well as some other prospects who could be available late in the first and into the second round.
For a full list of the guys who attended the workout can be found here, the guys who Lakers’ fans should keep a close eye on are:
- Marcus Smart, PG
- Aaron Gordon, F
- Noah Vonleh, PF
- Gary Harris, SG
- Zach LaVine, G
- Doug McDermott, F
- Tyler Ennis, PG
Smart, Gordon, and Vonleh are projected to go in the top 7 picks in most mock drafts. Smart and Vonleh are also players who have been projected to go to the Lakers in multiple mocks since the draft order was determined (with initial rumors stating that Vonleh is a guy the Lakers are particularly interested in). McDermott, Ennis, Harris, and Lavine are all slated to go anywhere from picks 8 to 20.
And while it’s nice to speculate, this initial group really offers zero hints towards what the Lakers’ draft plans may be. If anything, this group offers a nice composite for the Lakers to simply gauge how the prospects measure up to each other and whether or not any of the middle-tiered prospects (like Ennis, McDermott, and LaVine) may be worth a gamble at 7 or if a potential trade down would net the Lakers a comparable talent and an additional asset on draft day.
That latter point is something that will gain steam as the Lakers get closer to the draft. Because while I’m fully on board with the Lakers sticking at #7 and drafting the best available player, they would be wise to explore all their options and get the most out of this draft as they can. This would be true even if the team’s pick next summer wasn’t slated to go to the Suns if it fell outside the top 5 picks. Even though this draft is thought to go 8 deep with a talent drop-off after that, there always seems to be a prospect who is picked at the tail end of the lottery or into the teens who ends up being a very good player (Paul George and Kawhi Leonard are recent examples of this). In other words, the Lakers could potentially slide down in the draft even further and net themselves a player who develops nicely while netting an additional player or pick that ends up contributing to more wins.
Whether that will be their strategy or not isn’t known, but I wouldn’t put it past them. Especially as they workout players who would be reaches at 7, but would be solid picks in the 10 to 20 range. And including these players in workouts with prospects considered to be better at this point in order to watch them compete and get a better gauge in how they compare only aids in that process.
Much like their coaching search, the Lakers look like they will also cast a wide net when evaluating prospects for the draft. And just like that other search, the more information they can get to make the best decision, the better.