The Los Angeles Lakers are less than one week away from having to make a decision on their first-round pick in the upcoming 2021 NBA Draft.
The Lakers have been linked to several free agents in the past few days, which could mean they will look to move their draft selection. But because the team is bereft of any future talent, they could instead look to hold onto it.
It is no secret that Los Angeles could use more shooting at the guard or forward spots, which explains why prospects like Chris Duarte have routinely been linked to them. But the center position is another long-term question mark.
Andre Drummond, Marc Gasol and Montrezl Harrell could all plausibly leave the Lakers in the offseason which means they could look to find a big man worth developing in the draft. According to Kyle Goon of the Southern California News Group, it seems that Texas big man Kai Jones is on their radar after meeting with Rob Pelinka:
Kai Jones tells NBA media that he had an interview with Rob Pelinka at the Combine, then it was followed up with a visit to the Lakers practice facility. He's a Klutch client who has been training in the SoCal area.
— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) July 23, 2021
Klutch ties notwithstanding, Jones is an interesting prospect that draft analysts seem to be split on as he has been mocked either in the back-half of the lottery or somewhere in the mid to late-20s. Jones only started playing basketball a few years ago but possesses elite size, length and speed for a center and easily projects as a lob threat in the NBA. However, he has also flashed some guard skills as he can put the ball on the deck and drive all the way to the rim.
Although there is a slight chance that he will be available at No. 22 for the Lakers, he may not be the best use of their pick because he is going to be a project that will require years of development. If Los Angeles is willing to allow him to spend time in the G-League, then he would be a worthy pick but they might be better off getting someone who can play right away.
Lakers workout Giorgi Bezhanishvili
The Lakers have been doing their due diligence working out prospects who may not get drafted as they could potentially be fits for Summer League and training camp. One such player is big man Giorgi Bezhanishvili of Illinois, who is not expected to get selected but has intriguing tools that could be worth an extended look.
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