The Los Angeles Lakers hold the seventh overall pick in this month’s draft, and it’s a spot that general manager Mitch Kupchak believes that the team can still select a good quality player.
“I still think we’ll get a good player. I do. Hopefully we pick the right player,” Kupchak said. “But there is a lot of talent. It’s all pieces to a puzzle. You’re trying to put the pieces together and to get the best player potentially and also hopefully someone who can help you out.”
The Lakers on Wednesday held two workout sessions that featured names such as Arizona’s Aaron Gordon, Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, Indiana’s Noah Vonleh, Creighton’s Doug McDermott, Kentucky’s James Young, UCLA’s Zach LaVine and Syracuse’s Tyler Ennis. It was an opportunity that Kupchak felt gave the Lakers a chance to see the players, who for the most part declared for the draft after their freshman season, that they scouted for the past season in a personal workout.
“Most of these guys have been around for one year maybe,” Kupchak said. “A lot of these players are one and done so you get to watch them one year from a distance and you can’t really watch them close up until postseason. Chicago (at the NBA Draft Combine) has really evolved into a venue where it’s a lot of interviews, testing, measurements and very little basketball. “
As far as the athletic measurements, Kupchak felt that there a were a few good showings that included LaVine setting the Lakers pre-draft workout record with a 46-inch vertical. With that said, the Lakers general manager was quick state that each player Los Angeles tested on Wednesday possessed athletic ability.
“First of all, all these guys are athletic. Even some of the guys you look at and say: ‘He doesn’t measure up compared to some of the guys,'” Kupchak said. “Some of them are deceptively good athletes. At this level, they’re all pretty good. But it is a factor. That doesn’t always mean a guy can play basketball, but it’s a factor.”
With the Lakers’ roster currently at just four players under contract, Kupchak stated that there is no restrictions on what position the player the team may select even at shooting guard because of the bare amount of players on the team and the fact that a head coach has yet to be hired.
“You could argue because we only have four players on the roster, we’re not really limited to looking at one position. We need to look everywhere,” Kupchak. “We’d be in a position to take the best player at almost any position. Even the position we do have covered, he’s been around 18 years, so we have to look beyond that position, too. That is a good thing. Sometimes you get put in a position where you need a point guard and say: ‘Let’s focus on a point guard.’ And you may overlook a player who may be a (better) player down the road.”
As for the head coach vacancy, Kupchak did describe the search as “ongoing” and added that there is no new information to be announced. The Lakers have already interviewed Mike Dunleavy, Byron Scott, Kurt Rambis, Lionel Hollins, Alvin Gentry and have held an informal conversation with George Karl about the position.
With so much influx and the draft just over three weeks away, the Lakers appear to be open to all options in regards to their draft pick as they are looking to do what’s best for the team’s long-term future.
“Could we move this pick and get multiple picks? Maybe,” Kupchak said. “Could you buy a pick or trade a future pick for a present pick? Yeah that’s possible. Draft picks are more valuable than they were. It’s not as easy as it used to be. But it’s a possibility.”
Photo Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times.