With the 2021 NBA Draft approaching, the Los Angeles Lakers will have several options when it comes to their selection at No. 22.
The Lakers could look to move the pick in a potential deal in order to address some of the roster needs they have, but they should seriously consider keeping it as they do not have much young talent in the pipeline. Outside of Talen Horton-Tucker, Los Angeles lacks any developmental players for the future and this draft is an excellent opportunity to find someone for the long haul.
Aside from the injuries, outside shooting was the team’s demise during the playoffs as role players were unable to hit from deep even when left wide open. Draft analysts have mocked several shooters to the Lakers at No. 22 and Jonathan Givony of ESPN has them selecting Oregon’s Chris Duarte in his latest mock draft:
The Lakers will be on the lookout for ready-made contributors … if they decide to keep this pick, with much of their backcourt group about to enter free agency. With that in mind, an experienced player such as Duarte could make a lot of sense. He is one of the oldest players projected to be drafted and looks like a plug-and-play fit thanks to his strong perimeter shooting, passing and defensive playmaking instincts.
Duarte is a proficient outside shooter as he attempted 5.5 threes per game on 42.4 percent shooting. In his final season with Oregon, Duarte averaged 17.1 points per game and showed a knack for the defensive end as evidenced by his 1.9 steals.
The knock on Duarte is he is one of the oldest players in the draft, but the Lakers have shown no hesitation in taking older prospects. If the Lakers do keep this pick, the former Duck would make a lot of sense as he could immediately step in and space the floor for LeBron James and Anthony Davis and even possibly contribute as a wing defender.
So far, the Lakers have interviewed guards like Jaden Springer, but Duarte could very well be in the mix for them when they are on the clock.
NBA executive would give Talen Horton-Tucker max contract
The Lakers could be looking at a drain in their backcourt as Dennis Schroder, Alex Caruso and Horton-Tucker are all set to hit free agency. In Horton-Tucker’s case, he will be a restricted free agent which means L.A. will have the opportunity to match any contract he signs with another team.
However, his price tag could be hefty as an NBA executive would be willing to offer him a max deal. It remains to be seen what Horton-Tucker’s market is, but it is interesting to see how high some around the league view him.
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