Lakers News: Latest on Mac McClung, Joel Ayayi, Chaundee Brown UDFA ContractsAugust 1, 2021
Lakers News: Latest on Mac McClung, Joel Ayayi, Chaundee Brown UDFA Contracts
The Los Angeles Lakers may have made the biggest splash on the day of the 2021 NBA draft with the acquisition of Russell Westbrook from the Washington Wizards in exchange for Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Montrezl Harrell, but they were merely a blip on the radar during the actual draft.
Adam Silver only called one name on behalf of the Lakers, but that player, Isaiah Jackson, was immediately traded to the Indiana Pacers as part of the Wizards trade.
So it was net zero for the Purple and Gold on draft night.
But that doesn't mean there won't be any rookies trying to make the final roster.
The Lakers signed three undrafted free agents to evaluate this summer: Mac McClung, Joel Ayayi and Chaundee Brown.
Can McClung Stick with the Lakers?
McClung was a viral sensation coming out of Gate City high school because of his widely popular mixtapes highlighting his dunks and jumping ability.
The 6'2" guard was more than a skywalker at Gate City, though, winning Virginia High School League Player of the year after leading his team to the Virginia 2A State Championship and finishing as the all-time scoring leader in VHSL history with 2,801 points.
That success didn't exactly translate to the collegiate level for McClung, who had an up-and-down two years at Georgetown before transferring to Texas Tech.
McClung's journey seemed much like Zion Williamson's, who also amassed a rabid social media following that couldn't get enough of his aerial assaults in the open court.
Williamson, though, was able to go to Duke and establish himself as more than a dunker and played his way into becoming the No. 1 pick for the New Orleans Pelicans after just one year in Durham.
McClung wasn't able to duplicate that success, going undrafted after three years in college.
After an up-and-down two years at Georgetown, he transferred to Texas Tech and had the best year of his collegiate career.
Last season, he averaged 15.5 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists but only shot 34.3 percent from three.
If he has any hopes of making the team, he'll have to use his athleticism on the defensive end and show improvements on his outside shooting.
In fact, his best chance of making the team is the potential departure of Alex Caruso.
Should Caruso leave in free agency, that leaves a hole in the rotation that McClung could fill if he puts in the work.
Judging by his recent post on social media, he has the right mindset.
"Thank you God for the opportunity! Let's get to work Lakers," he wrote.
If nothing else, McClung's 763,000 Instagram followers will be a hefty addition to Laker Nation, however brief it might be.
Is Brown the 3-and-D Guy L.A. Needs?
Brown isn't as popular as McClung with only 21,300 followers on Instagram, but his game has found more purchase with scouts and analysts.
Ranked as the No. 60 prospect coming out of Michigan, he signed an exhibit-10 contract with the Lakers and is expected to have a real shot at making the team as a wing who can defend at a high level and make open three-point shots.
As a Wolverine, the 6'5" forward was instant offense off the bench, averaging 8.0 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.
More importantly, he connected on 41.9 percent of his shots from deep.
With the way LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Westbrook play, there will be plenty of open shots available, and Brown has shown that he can knock them down.
He'll also be a nice addition to the defensive end, especially with the departure of Caldwell-Pope.
"Let's work. This all I needed," Brown tweeted after he signed.
Can Ayayi Bring Winnings Ways to Lakers?
Ayayi is another prospect who should have been drafted in the second round but didn't hear his name called on July 29.
Los Angeles took advantage of the opportunity, signing the Gonzaga forward to a two-way contract.
The Bulldogs just had an undefeated regular season and lost to Baylor in the national championship game.
Ayayi was an integral part of that team, averaging 12.0 points and 6.9 rebounds per contest as an off-ball threat.
The 6'5" native of France also connected on 38.9 percent of his three balls, making him another potential shooter on a team that desperately needs them.
He can defend, too, and that can get him valuable minutes on a team coached by Frank Vogel.
There are no guarantees with undrafted signings, but the Lakers did well for themselves for a team with no draft picks.
James has been hailed as one of the best at making players around him better.
That claim will be put to the test this season.