The Los Angeles Lakers are continuing to make the rounds at the NBA Draft Combine. The team has scheduled workouts with several notable prospects and interviewed several more, hoping to gauge the depth of this draft class.
The Lakers have now added another name to the list in Utah center Jakob Poeltl, according to Mark Medina of the LA Daily News. Poeltl could theoretically be a target for the Lakers with the third pick in the draft, should they keep their first round pick but fall one spot in the lottery. However, DraftExpress currently has the seven-footer as its eighth best prospect.
Poeltl does have some intrigue around him with regards to how he would look in purple and gold. The big-man was one of the best post-up scorers in college basketball, scoring at high volume with high efficiency at Utah. The Austrian-born big man also showed an ability to be the roll man and finish around the basket, a hugely valuable skill on a team that features the passing and pick and roll ability of D’Angelo Russell.
Poeltl’s size and fluid movement could also bode well for his future defensively. The big man moves well enough to guard out on the perimeter and could be very valuable in helping guard opposing pick and rolls. He may never be a great shot-blocker due to his lack of length and athleticism, but his awareness and discipline could still see him protect the rim well, again helping fill a need for the Lakers.
Where Poeltl can really improve is with his passing. Due to his inability to space the floor with his shooting at this point, his passing because incredibly more important, especially as the NBA continues to move towards highly skilled big-men and running offense through pick and rolls. While he has not yet shown that skill consistently, Poeltl thinks he can emulate a former Lakers champion who was well-known for that skill especially (via Medina):
“I can be a lot like Pau Gasol,” said University of Utah sophomore center Jakob Poeltl, who interviewed with the Lakers on Friday here at the NBA pre-draft combine. “He’s a guy who has good touch around the basket and is a very good passer. He can dribble the ball. He’s even stepping out and shooting 3’s. I hope I can get there too. He’s a winner and won championships. I can do that, too.”
That is obviously a high bar to reach for the 20-year-old, but it is a promising sign of his work ethic and the level that he wants to reach. The Lakers used Gasol to get back-to-back championships so attempting to find a similar key star has to hold some intrigue for them.
Poeltl likely does not get drafted with the third overall pick due to some limitations in his game as well as his skillset not necessarily translating to the current state of the NBA. However, he can be a target in the mid-first round region should the Lakers decide to trade down and acquire either extra draft picks or more players.
For now, it seems like another case of LA doing its due diligence and interviewing any prospect that holds some intrigue just in case the opportunity to draft them arises.