One of the strengths in recent years of the Los Angeles Lakers front office has been their draft and scouting department. The team has done an outstanding job of finding prospects in the late-first and early-second rounds of the NBA Draft and they will have the opportunity to do the same again in 2021.
The Lakers own the 22nd overall pick in this year’s draft and they will do their due diligence on any number of prospects who all fill different needs. And though they don’t currently have a second-round pick, there is always the possibility of trading back into the draft, which means the scouting department will have to do their homework on all kinds of different players, even those who many may not be as familiar with.
That is the case with the University of Illinois big man Giorgi Bezhanishvili. According to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN, the team will be bringing in the former Illini for a workout:
The Lakers will have Illinois’ Giorgi Bezhanishvili in for a workout on Wednesday according to a league source. The 6’9 power forward has a 7’2 wing span and could play multiple positions: https://t.co/A21udbDmsW
— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) July 5, 2021
Bezhanishvili would definitely not seem to be a player the Lakers would consider at 22 as he averaged just 5.1 points and 2.7 rebounds as a junior last season. He did have an intriguing freshman season, averaging 12.5 points and 5.2 rebounds, but the Illini bringing in the highly touted Kofi Cockburn led to a diminished role for Bezhanishvili. The Georgian-born big man would seem to be a small-ball, high-energy big man who could make an impact if developed correctly.
Even still, the Lakers doing their due diligence on someone like this is not something to look down on. It is unlikely that Bezhanishvili will be drafted, but the Lakers are always looking for players to bring in for Summer League and potentially a spot on the South Bay Lakers G League team where they could help him develop. Getting familiar with what he brings now will help to make that decision later.
Though this isn’t a name that will be closely followed throughout the remainder of the draft process, the Lakers have earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to drafting the right players.
ESPN Mocks Oregon’s Chris Duarte to Lakers at No. 22
As for a player the Lakers would be more likely to take with their first-round pick should they decide to keep it, ESPN tabbed them with Oregon wing Chris Duarte in their latest mock draft.
That selection would make sense as Duarte is an older prospect who should be able to contribute immediately to the Lakers. Additionally, he was one of the best shooters in college basketball last season and is a more than adequate defender, averaging nearly two steals per game.
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