The Los Angeles Lakers’ offseason began earlier than they had hoped but the franchise will now focus on making improvements to the roster. One of the ways to do that is through the 2021 NBA Draft.
The Lakers own the 22nd overall pick and the scouting department has done an excellent job in recent years of finding talent in the late-first and second round. If there’s one area many would point to as needing to improve next season it is outside shooting and the Lakers seem to be targeting that already.
According to Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic, the Lakers are one of many teams to interview University of Virginia wing Trey Murphy III at the 2021 NBA Draft Combine this week:
Virginia wing Trey Murphy III said he has interviewed with the Knicks, OKC, Sacramento, Lakers, 76ers, Warriors, Grizzlies, and Suns so far. He went No. 23 in @Sam_Vecenie's latest mock draft.
— Mike Vorkunov (@MikeVorkunov) June 24, 2021
Murphy is the type of prospect that perfectly fits the needs of the Lakers this offseason. The 6’9 wing shot 41% from 3-point range in his college career including 43.3% as a junior last season, his first with the Cavaliers after spending his first two college seasons at Rice. As a three-year college player, he is also an older, more mature player who is more likely to be able to contribute immediately.
Murphy is also a solid defender, as most prospects who come from Virginia are, and excels at playing off the ball, which is necessary when playing with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. His free throw shooting is also worth noting as he shot 81.9% from the line in his college career including 92.7% last season.
Concerns with Murphy have to do with his physical attributes as while he is tall with good length for his height, he is not an elite athlete nor is he the most physical player, sometimes struggling against stronger opponents. He will also need to improve his ability to create off the dribble, especially as teams look to cut off his deep shooting.
This is only the beginning of the draft process and the Lakers will undoubtedly do their due diligence on any number of prospects before that date arrives. Murphy averaged 11.3 points and 3.4 rebounds on 50.3% shooting and 43.3% from deep.
Lakers interview Gonzaga wing Corey Kispert
As more proof of the team potentially targeting shooting in the draft, the Lakers were also one of the teams to interview Gonzaga wing Corey Kispert.
Kispert is considered by some to be the best shooter in the entire draft class after averaging 18.6 points while knocking down 44% from 3-point range as a senior with the Zags last season. As a four-year player he is also someone who could step in and contribute immediately.
Many projections have Kispert in the late lottery however, so he may be out of the Lakers’ range. But players always drop once the draft takes place so the Lakers are wise to get familiar with him just in case.
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