The Los Angeles Lakers did not have a selection in the 2021 NBA Draft on Thursday after trading their first round pick to acquire Russell Westbrook from the Washington Wizards. After the draft, though, they were as busy as ever, immediately signing arguably the two best undrafted free agents on the market. The Lakers first signed Gonzaga’s Joel Ayayi, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Next was Austin Reaves who played two seasons at each of Wichita State and Oklahoma, as reported by ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.
The duo will replace Kostas Antetokounmpo and DeVontae Cacok as the team’s two way contracts. Antetokounmpo recently signed a deal overseas after his two-way eligibility expired. Cacok still had a year of eligibility left but it appears he will not appear on the same contract for the third straight season. It’s not clear if the Lakers will re-sign the big man on a permanent deal.
Two-way players split time between the G-League and the parent team, with a maximum number of days they can spend in the NBA. It’s a low cost way of adding some young emergency options while keeping them in your development program.
Reaves and Ayayi were two of the top available players after the draft according to draft experts. Sam Vecenie of the Athletic had Reaves as the 32nd best player on his big board and Ayayi as the 51st. ESPN’s Jonathon Givony listed the duo as his top undrafted free agents once the draft was over.
Yeah these are home run two-ways. No team will do better on the two-way market than the Lakers did here, IMO, and it makes sense they were a desirable location because they have some potential opportunity with how barren the roster is right now. https://t.co/KL3ZPwctN2
— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) July 30, 2021
Best undrafted prospects, per the ESPN 100: Austin Reaves, Joel Ayayi, Aaron Henry, Matthew Hurt, Mckinley Wright, Chaundee Brown, Carlik Jones, Sam Hauser, Trendon Watford, DJ Steward, Vrenz Bleijenbergh, Justin Champagnie, Isaiah Miller, Matt Mitchell, John Petty, AJ Lawson
— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) July 30, 2021
The 23-year-old 6-5 Reaves is known as a scorer despite not shooting a high percentage from behind the arc. In his two seasons at Oklahoma, Reaves showed an immense ability to get to the free throw line, making him an efficient lead guard.
The 21-year-old Ayayi could make up for Reaves’ lack of shooting as the Frenchman shot over 38 percent from behind the arc during his junior season at Gonzaga. Despite being a 6-5 guard he also grabbed a nice 6.9 rebound per game.