With the NBA season now officially over, all eyes have turned towards the 2021 NBA Draft, which is now just days away. For the Los Angeles Lakers, this means potentially adding a young player whom they can develop into a contributor, which the team has been doing an excellent job of in recent years.
The team has found outstanding talent in the late first and second round of the draft and armed with the 22nd pick in this year’s draft, have the chance to do so again. The question now is who will the Lakers wind up with once the time comes to make the selection.
One name who seems like the perfect fit for the Lakers is Oregon guard Chris Duarte, one of the oldest but most NBA-ready prospects in the draft. Apparently, the rest of the NBA feels the same as, according to Sam Vecenie of The Athletic, Duarte is the name coming up most when discussing potential Lakers picks:
Duarte remains the name that comes up most for the Lakers. He is working out for teams above the Lakers in the draft order, so I’m a bit dubious that there is a “promise” here — or anywhere — for Duarte, something that teams around the league have speculated on throughout the pre-draft process.
As Vecenie mentioned, Duarte could be gone well before the Lakers are on the clock. Not only has he been working out for many teams ahead of L.A., but he is also one of 20 prospects who has been invited to the NBA Draft green room, which would suggest that the league sees him as likely to be taken higher.
Duarte’s fit with the Lakers is obvious as he is a knockdown 3-point shooter who hit 42.4% from deep last season and is an excellent defender who works hard on that end of the floor as well. He is already 24 years old, however, which many would say lowers his ceiling. But it could also mean that he can contribute in a big way immediately, which fits more with the Lakers’ current timeline.
There are always players who rise and fall surprisingly once draft night comes around and the Lakers have no control over anything being all the way down at 22. Duarte being linked to L.A. makes a lot of sense, but whether or not he’ll be there is anyone’s guess.
Miles McBride wants to show Lakers he’s the ‘ultimate competitor’
If Duarte is gone, or perhaps even if he is still there, another prospect the Lakers could strongly consider is West Virginia guard Miles McBride. Though more of a point guard than wing like Duarte, McBride also provides excellent defense and shot-making ability. But most importantly to McBride is his competitive nature.
“The main thing I say I’m trying to show is I’m the ultimate competitor,” McBride said after his workout with the Lakers. “I feel like I’m definitely one of the best competitors in the draft if not the best so shots are gonna fall, shots are gonna miss, so the biggest thing is just to show I’m a competitor.”
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