LeBron James Says Chris Duarte Is 'Beyond His Years' After Lakers Beat Pacers in OT

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVNovember 25, 2021

Indiana Pacers' Chris Duarte (3) prepares to shoot against Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James (6) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
AP Photo/Darron Cummings

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James showered praise on Indiana Pacers rookie guard Chris Duarte following L.A.'s 124-116 overtime win over Indiana on Wednesday.

James called Duarte a player "beyond his years" when asked about his performance after the game (beginning at the 6:20 mark):

LeBron also said that when the Lakers worked Duarte out before the 2021 NBA draft, he "didn't miss a shot." Among the superlatives James used to describe Duarte were "big time" and "very poised."

After starring collegiately at Oregon, Duarte was the No. 13 pick in the draft by Indiana. That selection has paid dividends thus far, as the 24-year-old is averaging 13.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.0 three-pointers made this season.

On the heels of scoring single-digit points in four consecutive games, Duarte broke out of his slump Wednesday, finishing with 17 points along with three rebounds, one assist and one block.

James said he knew the Lakers had no chance of landing him with the No. 22 pick once he saw him work out with L.A.

Since Duarte was off the board, Los Angeles had to settle for Kentucky forward Isaiah Jackson, who was traded to Indiana as part of a five-team trade that sent Russell Westbrook to the Lakers.

Duarte figures to be a big part of the future of a Pacers team that is going through some growing pains currently with an 8-12 record.

Meanwhile, LeBron got the Lakers back on track with a win Wednesday, evening their record at 10-10.