NEW YORK — As we here at Heavy.com reported back on June 6, the Lakers had been looking to buy their way into the second half of this year’s NBA draft, and on Thursday, they pulled it off, taking the No. 35 pick off the Magic’s hands for cash considerations and a future second-rounder.
Now, the question is, what will the Lakers do with it?
The team gave some indication of their intention by the type of players they chose to work out during the predraft process—mostly older, more polished collegians who could stick on the roster and contribute immediately in the 2022-23. The Lakers are not in need of upside—they need young players who can inject some energy into the team.
They’d be happy to come away with a young backup point guard.
As one league source told Heavy.com early this month, “They can see the writing on the wall, they need young players. They’re often one of the teams looking to buy a second-round pick when they have a guy they like, as they did with Talen Horton-Tucker. It’s a safe bet that they will look to buy a second-rounder this year, send out cash and a future pick, as they’re looking to get younger however possible.”
In 2019, the Lakers paid $2.2 million to the Magic for the rights to Horton-Tucker, and sent a 2020 second-rounder in the deal.
Polished Gonzaga PG the Top Contender?
Among scouts and league executives, one of the popular late first/early second-round names has been Gonzaga point guard Andrew Nembhard, who played two seasons at Florida before finishing his junior and senior years with the Bulldogs. Nembhard averaged 11.3 points and 5.8 assists as a senior, shooting 38.3% from the 3-point line.
“When it comes to guys who are polished, he is probably tops in this draft,” one scout told Heavy.com. “I could see a team taking him late in the first round because he is ready to come in and fill a role quickly. He is not going to be a star, but he can be a solid backup point guard from the jump, someone who does not make many mistakes and makes winning plays. He shot the ball well as a senior and that was one of the big holes in his game.”
Jemaree Bouyea a Potential Lakers Pick at 35
The Lakers would certainly figure to have an eye on Nembhard, but one guy they worked out who is also ready for backup point guard minutes this season is San Francisco point guard Jemaree Bouyea, who is 6-foot-2 and a fifth-year senior, already 23 years old. Bouyea averaged 17.3 points in each of his last two seasons.
Expect the Lakers, too, to have an eye on first-round prospects who slip to Round 2, especially experienced ones: athletic junior guard Christian Braun of Kansas, Wake Forest forward Jake LaRavia, G-League wing MarJon Beauchamp and Ohio State forward E.J. Liddell among them.
The Lakers entered last season with the oldest roster in the NBA, by far, at 30.0 years old, well ahead of the 28.3 years averaged by the second-oldest team, the Brooklyn Nets. The team is eager to add younger, hungrier players to its mix next season.