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Lakers News: Top Prospects for LA to Target After 2020 NBA Draft Lottery

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 22, 2020

FILE - In this March 4, 2020, file photo, Kansas guard Devon Dotson celebrates a 3-point basket during the second half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against TCU in Lawrence, Kan. Dotson is entering the NBA draft after leading the Big 12 Conference in scoring his sophomore season. “In basketball, this has always been my ultimate dream and my time at KU has prepared me,” Dotson said Monday, April 13, 2020, in a news release.(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File)
Orlin Wagner/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Lakers are focused on chasing down the franchise's 17th championship in the playoffs, but their offseason plans are also worth considering after the 2020 NBA draft lottery took place Thursday.

L.A. only owns one selection in this year's draft, the 28th overall pick in the first round, after trading its second-round choice to the Orlando Magic for Talen Horton-Tucker during the 2019 draft. Orlando later flipped the pick to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for James Ennis III.

Let's analyze a few promising prospects the Lakers should target in the late stages of Round 1 when the draft gets underway Oct. 16.

            

RJ Hampton, G, New Zealand Breakers

Hampton will likely be off the board by the time the Lakers are on the clock, but he'd be the perfect fit if he slides a little bit on draft night.

The 19-year-old Texas native was a solid performer for the United States' youth national teams and showed he's capable of handling pro ball with the Breakers. He averaged 8.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.1 steals in just 20.6 minutes across 15 appearances in Australia's National Basketball League.

"I definitely feel like my time in New Zealand playing against grown men and on a great team really benefited me," Hampton told Jason Jordan of Sports Illustrated last week. "I definitely feel like I've played myself into that top tier [of the draft class]."

He's a point guard who can make an impact without needing 20 shots per game, which is something the early stages of the postseason has shown the Lakers need more of heading into next season. He can also take some pressure off LeBron James in terms of ball-handling responsibility.

Hampton is still a developmental project, though. That would make him more of a risk for lottery teams expecting him to emerge as a key piece immediately. Going to the Lakers, where he'd be more of a secondary or tertiary contributor at the outset while playing on a winning team, would help his growth.

           

Devon Dotson, G, Kansas

Dotson's future will depend heavily on his ability to craft a more efficient outside shot. He knocked down just 33.2 percent of his threes across two years with the Jayhawks, including an unsightly 30.9 percent in a more expansive offensive role as a sophomore during the 2019-20 season.

The rest of the package is there, though. He averaged 18.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.1 steals for KU last season and continued to showcase the high-end slashing skill that helped make him a 247Sports 5-star prospect coming out of high school.

Like Hampton, Dotson is a point guard who can avoid getting overexposed on the second unit as a rookie while giving LeBron the occasional breather. He also made significant strides at KU on the defensive end, which bodes well for his chances of sticking in the NBA for the long haul.

Getting into the paint is more challenging in the NBA for smaller guards, which is why working on his outside jump shot will be critical. If he makes progress in that area, his other tools give him legitimate All-Star potential by the time he hits the prime of his career.

           

Isaiah Stewart, C, Washington

The Lakers' outlook could shift more toward the frontcourt if Anthony Davis unexpectedly doesn't give the team a firm commitment before the draft. The star forward could decline a player option in his contract to become an unrestricted free agent in the offseason.

Stewart can't match Davis' offensive repertoire and doesn't project as a high-end superstar over the long haul, but he's a late first-round prospect who could make an instant impact. He averaged 17.0 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks while shooting 57 percent from the field in 32 games for the Huskies.

The Lakers would likely opt for more traditional lineups if "The Brow" exits, which would give the Washington standout an opportunity to earn substantial minutes alongside Kyle Kuzma up front.

Serbian big man Aleksej Pokusevski, who plays for Olympiacos in Greece, would be an option if the Lakers are looking for a long-term center without getting any immediate bang for their buck. He's a few years away, which could be a tough sell for a franchise in absolute win-now mode, though.

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