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Lakers News: Latest on Potential Draft Targets and More

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistJuly 21, 2021

Los Angeles Lakers' Kostas Antetokounmpo waits for a rebound during the second half of a preseason NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, in Los Angeles. The Lakers won 126-93. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

It was the Phoenix Suns, not the Los Angeles Lakers, who came out of the Western Conference to play for a title in the 2021 NBA Finals. An opening-round loss to those Suns has the LeBron James-led Lakers thinking about draft targets and offseason plans. 

There are plenty of question marks, too. Key rotational names such as Dennis Schroder will head for free agency, creating re-sign-or-replace questions. 

One of the latter avenues is the upcoming draft, which takes place on July 29 ahead of the free-agent market's opening on August 6. There, the Lakers hold the 22nd overall pick—that could become ammunition in a trade, but in the meantime, the organization must do its due diligence on top prospects.

With these details for context, here's a look at the latest buzz around the team. 

     

Kostas Antetokounmpo Update

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Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Speaking of the depth issue around James and Anthony Davis, Kostas Antetokounmpo didn't get a chance to play a major role for the Lakers last season even amid the injury woes. 

Kostas, younger brother of the Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo, only played in 15 games last year and averaged just 3.7 minutes. The Lakers had title aspirations and seemingly little patience for letting a high-upside player develop in the process. 

With his two-way contract now expired, Antetokounmpo elected to sign with LDLC ASVEL in France. 

Antetokounmpo chose to sign with a defending league champion overseen by former San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker, which gives the 23-year-old forward a chance to soak up minutes and develop on the fly. 

Antetokounmpo showed promise in the NBA G League with the South Bay Lakers, averaging 14.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks over 20 appearances in 2019-20. But that upside wasn't enough to get him on the court last year, and now the Lakers will have to use draft picks and other means to fill two-way contracts and the serious depth issue.

      

Draft Targets 

Gerry Broome/Associated Press

The Lakers are making it pretty clear what they might target in the middle of the upcoming draft: stretch forwards capable of lighting it up from range. 

At a recent workout, the Lakers hosted a handful of draft prospects. Arguably most notable of them were Matthew Hurt of the Duke Blue Devils and Isaiah Todd of the G League Ignite. 

Hurt, 6'9" and 235 pounds, broke out with Duke last season alongside a massive upswing in playing time, shooting 55.6 percent from the floor and 44.4 percent from deep while averaging 32.7 minutes per game. That was while averaging 5.3 attempts per game from deep and pitching in on the boards with 6.2 rebounds per game. 

Todd almost went the collegiate route before decommitting from Michigan and joining the G League. Over 15 games with Ignite, he averaged 12.3 points per game on 43.7 percent shooting from the floor. He's the same age as Hurt, but where he separates is defensively and as a post-up prospect.

Synergy Sports' draft profile on NBA.com says the following: "Averaging 0.96 points per catch-and-shoot jump shot in the half court [41st percentile], he proved more accurate some games than others but made significant strides with his mechanics from his senior year of high school and showed promising footwork shooting on the move."

Like Antetokounmpo, neither prospect would probably get a ton of looks right away, if at all. Some of the more immediate roster concerns will be filled in free agency or via other creative measures. But when looking at the Lakers with a long-term lens, it's nice to have an understanding of what the organization pegs as a need worth addressing with premium assets. 

      

All stats obtained via Basketball Reference unless otherwise noted. 

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