The Los Angeles Lakers have a complicated relationship with the NBA draft.
The team hasn’t had a first-round pick since 2018, continuing that trend this year as they will not have a selection in that round for the 2022 NBA Draft. This is mostly a result of the trade for Anthony Davis, but also other, more detrimental trades where they parted with a first-rounder for the “talents” of Dennis Schroder and the one, the only Russell Westbrook.
Hell, the team hasn’t even had a second-round draft pick since 2019. But with that year’s second-rounder, they found a high-value pick in the form of Talen Horton-Tucker. That pick came from Orlando via a trade the Lakers performed where they sent the Magic a future second-rounder and some cash. They may be trying to do a similar move to enter the draft this season, as president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka himself indicated as such after head coach Darvin Ham’s introductory press conference (transcription via Jacob Rude and Silver Screen & Roll):
“One of the intentional philosophical architectural visions for us is to get younger and coach Ham has a passion for developing players. It would be a goal for us to somehow get in the second round to get a young player that we can develop. We’ve had great success if you look at our draft history and the guys we’ve drafted and developed and we think we can do it again in 2022 if we can pull off a trade to get a pick.”
The team also has the option of scouring the pool of players who don’t end up being drafted, the same process that scored them Austin Reaves last year, with Reaves factoring to be a big part of the team next season.
With all of that being said, our own Donny McHenry wanted to pick the brain of Mike Garcia who uses his free time to evaluate and project what different NBA prospects will do once they get to the league. Mike joined Donny on the below podcast to talk about what he looks for in prospects, a risky but possibly promising idea of using the Lakers’ mid-level exception this year on one of these prospects, as well as certain players he thinks would be great pick-ups for the Lakers in the second-round or in the undrafted pool.