The Los Angeles Lakers are a very different team today than they were this time last week. Last week the Lakers were splitting their focus between scouting top-10 draft prospects and trying to broker a deal for Anthony Davis. Well now that the latter has occurred, there’s no need to focus on the draft anymore.
However, don’t rule out the purple and gold getting themselves back into the draft someway, somehow. On June 18, Adrian Wojnarowski and Bobby Marks of ESPN reported that the Lakers are “pursuing the the purchase of second-round picks in Thursday’s NBA draft”. It was further stated that the reasoning behind this is to acquire inexpensive talent, along with the ability to exceed the salary cap with minimum contracts.
With the recent success that the Lakers have had at the end of the first round and early second, with Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Thomas Bryant, Jordan Clarkson, and Larry Nance Jr, all proving to be very solid NBA players, I wouldn’t rule out the Lakers buying or trading for a prospect who they feel could be a useful role player.
A lot of credit for the recent non-lottery picks must be given to both Jesse Buss (Director of Scouting/Assistant General Manager) and Ryan West (Director of Player Personnel). In my opinion they are the only consistent members of the front office that do a stellar job. They are truly a credit to the organisation.
Having said all of that, they have a lot of work to do before Thursday night’s draft should they acquire a pick. I’m very confident they have done their homework already and that the Lakers were planning all along on buying a draft pick in the second round, or trading an asset to get a late first.
With that all said, here are three second round draft prospects who the Lakers could make a move for on draft night.
To say Jontay Porter is unlucky is an understatement. Considered a first round draft prospect last season, he passed up the opportunity of committing to the 2018 NBA Draft for a multitude of reasons. The main reason being he had torn his ACL and MCL, and he was still rehabbing the injuries. Another strong consideration was that the 2018 draft was considered deep and his chances of being included in the lottery were low.
He decided to return to college to develop his game, work on his NBA body, and to show teams that when healthy he can be a solid addition. However, during a late-night workout with his brother (Denver Nuggets rookie Michael Porter Jr) at the Nuggets’ practice facility, Jontay re-tore his healing ACL, effectively destroying any chance of being taken in the first round of this year’s draft.
As a result of his misfortunes, he is being labelled as injury prone and his draft stock has plummeted. It is very likely that Porter will now be available in the middle of the second round. Before his injuries, Jontay wasn’t just Michael Porter Jr’s little brother, he was a genuine prospect in his own right. With fantastic size, mobility, length, and an ability to shoot the ball, if he overcomes his injury history he can still be a very solid NBA player moving forward. Whether he bounces back from his injuries is the big question though.
I rate him higher than Mortiz Wagner, if healthy. Jontay Porter would be the perfect second unit big, capable of giving 15-20 mins a night. Here is hoping he can bounce back from his injuries and have a productive NBA career.
2017/18 Stats: 9.9 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 2.2 APG, 43.7% FG, 36.4% 3P
2018/19 Stats: N/A
Jalen Lecque is a unique prospect. Having decided to forego his college eligibility, Lecque decided to attend prep school, Brewster Academy, in order to spend his time to fully prepare on making the leap to the NBA, following the likes of Thon Maker and Anfernee Simmons. It is going to be interesting moving forward whether this becomes a trend.
With being a combo guard, he has fantastic size to play both positions. Additionally, standing at 6-foot-4, with a lengthy wingspan of 6-foot-8, the one aspect of this game that stands out is his body control and the ability to make plays in the paint. He shows admirable athleticism and for such a young player, he shows excellent dexterity in dribbling with both hands.
While Lecque doesn’t possess elite court vision, he is still capable of orchestrating an offense. With the right mentor-ship he could very easily become a useful point guard in the NBA someday. My guess is that he will be sent down to the G-League initially, in order to develop him for the professional ranks. He certainly shows promise and if he can continue to improve, he could be an ideal option for the Lakers.
2018/19 Stats: N/A
With Lonzo Ball no longer a part of the Laker organisation, it could be time to bring in another UCLA Bruin. While the Bruins have not done anything of note since Lonzo’s departure, his replacement does have the ability to be an NBA player. Jaylen Hands is by no means an elite talent but he is a well-rounded point guard, with a lot of upside.
When you first watch Hands you see a fearless guard who throws himself around the court, whether it’s finishing at the rim, grabbing rebounds, or getting in the passing lanes. With his offensive game, Hands is a great slasher, he uses this to get to the rim. His fearless nature allows him to get buckets inside due to his combination of speed and explosiveness.
He is also a very capable 3-point shooter who will torch any team if left open. So why is he available in the second round if he is capable of defending, scoring inside and out, and is a solid athlete? Well, UCLA have not been a good team for the last two years, and this has caused many scouts to turn their attention elsewhere. While Hands may never be a superstar, he definitely has a place in the NBA. He must continue to improve in all aspects of the game, especially his handle which can be suspect at times.
I could absolutely see him being a great bench piece for the Lakers in the coming years. While I don’t think he could contribute right away, I feel good about him being a useful bench scorer for the Lakers in the years to come.
2018/19 Stats: 14.2 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 6.1 APG, 41.3% FG, 37.4% 3P
By Jonathan Kiernan (@KiernanJonathan)