The NBA draft is rapidly approaching and earlier this week, the Los Angeles Lakers conducted individual workouts at their practice facility in El Segundo.
On Wednesday, the Lakers hosted 12 prospects, highlighted by versatile Indiana forward Noah Vonleh along with Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart. These individual workouts are designed to measure each prospects ability to compete and handle fatigue in one on one drills and in position drills.
The Lakers have the seventh pick in the draft and with the latest reports by Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times confirming the team will hire a coach with previous experience, it is unknown how the team will approach the draft.
Should they take a player who has more upside in the long run? Or should they draft the best player available, someone who is NBA ready right now?
Here’s a look at two potential prospects the Lakers may pull the trigger on come June 26.
Noah Vonleh, 6’10″, 247 lbs, PF
Vonleh is a versatile forward who may end up being a fast riser and not make it to the Lakers at 7. If Mike D’Antoni was still the coach, he would ultimately be the team’s top priority, due to his offensive upside to stretch the floor in a D’Antoni system and hit jump shots out to 3-point range, along with a face up game and inside presence on both ends of the court. Vonleh nearly averaged a double-double as a freshman, posting 11.3 points and 9.0 rebounds per game while shooting 48 percent from 3. ESPN lists his wingspan at 7’5″, which allows him to make up for the fact that he is not an exceptional leaper.
If the Lakers are able to bring back Pau Gasol, or even Chris Kaman for that matter, Vonleh would be a good complement to their games. His defense and rebounding will be a valuable asset from day one and offensively, he can be groomed into a potential All-Star, ala Chris Bosh.
Marcus Smart, 6’3″, 227 lbs, PG
After his freshman season, scouts were concerned that Smart was a tweener. Those concerns were eliminated after his sophomore season though, as Chad Ford believes his NBA position will be at the point and teams have grown to love him there.
Smart is a tough, competitive, defensive minded player who can do a little bit of everything on each side of the court. In his college career, he averaged 2.9 steals per game, as he can really extend ball pressure the length of the court, play passing lanes and deny the wing.
Offensively, the biggest weakness is his jump shot, where he shot 29 percent from 3 for his career and this past year, his free throw percentage dropped to just 72 percent. Simply put, point guards have the ball in their hands the majority of the time and the good ones are able to hit free throws down the stretch. He’s strong enough though where he’ll seek to post up smaller defenders quite often, do his work before he catches and finish around the rim.
Though he’d play point guard for the Lakers, Smart is a poor man’s version of Dwyane Wade — a two-way player who can contribute immediately but will struggle to score consistently with average athleticism and until his subpar jump shot is improved.
Which of these two would Lakers fans rather have?