There may be no bigger time of information misdirection (i.e. lies) than in the week plus ahead of the NBA draft. This is the period where strategic leaks, the up-talking and downplaying of prospects, and spin takes full form from all sides. Be it front offices, “league sources”, agents, or “those close to” the players, it is best to take most reports with a grain of salt and just try to wait it out until the names are actually called the night of the draft.
With those caveats out there, the player whose stock is climbing quickly is Latvian big man Kristaps Porzingis. The seven footer held a public workout in Las Vegas on this past Friday and the Lakers were one of several teams who had representatives present to see what he could do. The workout was, apparently, a huge success as Porzingis flashed the shooting stroke and combination of size plus athleticism scouts go crazy over:
On the heals of that impressive showing, Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting the Lakers had Porzingis in for a workout on Monday evening:
Every day, front-office fascinations rise with Porzingis. Every day, he’s moving himself closer into contention to become one of the top three picks in the NBA draft on June 25. Los Angeles Lakers officials conducted a workout of Porzingis on Monday night at the franchise’s El Segundo, Calif., practice facility, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Suddenly, Porzingis is pursuing the Lakers’ pick at No. 2, along with spectacular Ohio State guard D’Angelo Russell and Duke’s Jahlil Okafor. Suddenly, Porzingis is changing this NBA draft.
Reports like the one from Woj, especially when coupled with the fact that this was not a “public” workout like Jahlil Okafor, Emanuel Mudiay, and D’Angelo Russell went through when visiting the team, will only ramp up that speculation. After all, Porzingis is talented, has professional experience in what many consider the 2nd best league in the world, and has a huge upside. When drafting as high as the Lakers are, doing due-diligence on all players who are worthy of a top 5-ish pick is worth the time.
We cannot know for sure what any of this means, of course. If I were speculating, I’d argue that the Lakers are doing only what they said they would do: look at as many of the top prospects they could in order to make the best, most informed decision possible with the #2 overall pick. If asked why the workout Woj is reporting was not as public, I might counter with reports heading into Friday’s Las Vegas workout noting the group event would be his “only workout heading into the draft”. These answers aren’t as sexy as ones implying the Lakers are leaning towards taking the young Latvian, but they seem reasonable to me.
In any event, take these reports for whatever you want them to be. For what it’s worth, I think Porzingis’ talent is real and that he, like any of the other top players in the draft, has a chance to be special. As good a chance as Towns or Okafor or Russell? Who knows, honestly? I know I don’t. So much of the answer to that question will depend on countless variables specific to the organization which selects him. But the kid can play.
While the workout video above is what has gotten many GM’s salivating, the fact is those who have scouted him point to a skill set deployed in game situations. A skill set like the one below. Enjoy, and tell me what you think in the comments.