Dating back to the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, the Los Angeles Lakers have been connected to perceived favorite 2018 prospect. A report suggested the team promised to draft Mitchell Robinson with the 25th overall pick in the 2018 Draft.
That was later refuted but with the caveat the Lakers reportedly remain intrigued by the versatile big man. That was followed by the Lakers reportedly being fans of international prospect Luka Doncic but unlikely to make the steps necessary to potentially draft him.
Doncic is projected in several mock drafts to be taken within the top three picks. Now, another option the Lakers might be enamored with is Texas Tech guard Zhaire Smith. He hasn’t participated in a pre-draft workout for the team but Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka observed Smith at a pro day.
According to Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype, the Lakers and Smith have had several meetings as well:
One person close to the situation told HoopsHype that the Lakers are “super infatuated” with him and “love his potential” and fit with the organization. Another person close to the situation told HoopsHype that the prospect has met with the organization “several times,” including for lunch and dinner.
Kevin O’Connor said on “The Ringer NBA Show” the Lakers might look to trade in order to draft Smith:
“I’ve heard that the Lakers are either looking to add a pick in the middle of the first round or trade up from the 25th pick into the middle of the first round to draft the player that they’re targeting. Zhaire Smith is the name that I’ve heard that they’re very high on.”
Smith averaged 11.3 points, 5 rebounds and 1.8 assists as a freshman at Texas Tech. His statistics don’t jump out, but Smith’s athleticism and defensive ability helped lead the Red Raiders to the Elite Eight and morph himself from a three-star recruit to a likely first-round pick.
Most mock drafts don’t have Smith falling past the San Antonio Spurs at No. 18 overall.
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