Report: Dante Exum's LA Lakers Preference Won't Scare Away Other Lottery Teams

Daniel O'BrienFeatured ColumnistMarch 29, 2014

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 14:  Young Australian basketball player Dante Exum (R) and Joe Daniher of the Bombers  speak during an Essendon Bombers AFL media session at True Value Solar Centre on February 14, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)
Michael Dodge/Getty Images

Australia's dynamic NBA draft prospect Dante Exum has previously expressed interest in being drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers, but according to reports, that won't deter other lottery teams from targeting him.

In February, he told Bleacher Report's Jared Zwerling that "I think (being drafted by L.A.) would be the best option." It was viewed as somewhat of a pitch and perhaps an attempt to discourage other clubs from pursuing him.

However, two executives of lottery clubs told Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix that Exum's assertions won't sway them from selecting him:

Exum has been working out in Los Angeles in preparation for the draft. There have been reports that Exum, who is represented by Kobe Bryant's agent, Rob Pelinka, may be angling for the Lakers to draft him. But two executives from lottery teams said that wouldn't stop them from drafting Exum if he's available.

There are several squads who would love to scoop up the 18-year-old prodigy, who shows tremendous potential as a playmaking combo guard.

Besides the Lakers, teams like the Orlando Magic, Utah Jazz, Sacramento Kings and Boston Celtics are all in decent position to win a 3-5 spot in the lottery. It's difficult to imagine a scenario where Exum falls further than fifth, so the teams that really want him must hope to land in that top-five range.

Orlando, in particular, is a team that seems like it has a good chance of plucking him, and it could build a devastating backcourt with him as part of the equation alongside Victor Oladipo.

It wouldn't be surprising if the Magic picked him regardless of his L.A. desires, because NBA executives know that Exum is a positive personality who would make the most out of wherever he landed.

ProBasketballTalk's Brett Pollakoff explained that Exum's leverage in this situation is minimal, and there's not much he can do to prevent other clubs from drafting him:

All Exum could really do would be to close up shop so to speak, and refuse private workouts or interviews with teams who are interested in drafting him in hopes that might be enough for them to begin to took somewhere else.

The whole Lakers connection may ultimately be overblown, and Exum may be happy anywhere he ends up. But even if it's real, it won't matter one bit if another club sees him as the key piece to its future.

Given his explosive athleticism, two-way versatility and superb instincts, he's going to be highly coveted. After Kansas' elite duo and Jabari Parker, he's likely to be the next prospect off the board.

His All-Star ceiling is simply too high for him to fall past the early lottery, as teams stand to gain much more from him than guys like Marcus Smart, Noah Vonleh and Aaron Gordon. Exum undoubtedly falls under the "can't-miss" category.

With his kind of upside, teams aren't going to care if the Lakers are his top choice.


Dan O'Brien covers the NBA draft for Bleacher Report.

Follow him on Twitter: @DanielO_BR.