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With no NBA draft picks, Lakers need undrafted free agents

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Reputations can start in a variety of locations, and a G League tryout is pretty much as good a spot as any to kind one.

It was there that the Lakers noticed David Nwaba, an undrafted participant who attended three schools. They swung a deal to get him added to their developmental workforce, and earlier than they knew it, he was on the courtroom with the NBA workforce.

That he didn’t discover continued success with the Lakers doesn’t matter. That the workforce unearthed a participant who has now appeared in 237 NBA video games — beginning 50 of them — seemingly out of skinny air, that’s a talent that issues.

Because the Lakers head into transaction season without draft picks or cap house, it’ll once more fall on them to make one thing out of nothing, a big problem for any entrance workplace.

Happily, the Lakers entrance workplace — from basic supervisor Rob Pelinka to guide Kurt Rambis to scouting division people like Joey and Jesse Buss to personnel director Nick Mazzella — has constructed a monitor document of discovering position gamers from non-traditional routes. After hitting a house run with undrafted free agent Austin Reaves a season in the past, the Lakers head into this draft season once more on the hunt for gamers who can contribute sooner quite than later.

The plan with Reaves didn’t initially name for him to turn out to be one of many Lakers’ most dependable gamers.

Joey Buss laughed when he remembered pondering Reaves can be within the G League taking part in for the South Bay Lakers all season. That plan, for quite a lot of causes, together with Reaves’ superior sport, shortly modified.

It’s normally a slower burn, Alex Caruso and Talen Horton-Tucker examples of gamers who used time with the G League earlier than carving out NBA roles. The group additionally has had success drafting late within the first spherical, the place gamers like Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart far outperformed their draft positions. Second-round picks like Ivica Zubac and Thomas Bryant have confirmed to be productive gamers and are part of the Lakers’ scouting success.

It’s in all probability the state of affairs the Lakers will likely be in once more this offseason, although their roster issues make them a horny touchdown spot for gamers who go undrafted.

The mixture of potential taking part in time, a confirmed developmental monitor document, entry to large star energy and pretty much as good of a G League dwelling state of affairs in El Segundo as any within the league ought to push the Lakers to the entrance of the road for anybody who doesn’t get picked.

The Lakers held their tenth group draft exercise on Tuesday, a course of that’s proven simply how extensive of a internet they’ve forged. Shareef O’Neal by no means scored in double figures in faculty, however with measurement, talent and top-notch genetics (his dad is Shaquille), what’s the hurt in a glance?

The workforce additionally has labored out quite a lot of draft prospects nearer to their mid-20s than their teenagers, an indication of the instances after the NCAA allowed gamers an additional yr of eligibility because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scouts across the league view these sorts of gamers to be extra outfitted to make a faster impression. Whereas insiders really feel that the Lakers will aggressively attempt to purchase a decide within the second spherical, they’ll seemingly have a slim concentrate on gamers who challenge as attainable position gamers, the workforce nonetheless looking for versatile wing defenders and shooters.

They’re not the one ones on the lookout for gamers like that, however at the least the Lakers can really feel snug with their possibilities of discovering an impression participant. In any case, they’ve achieved it earlier than.