2023 NBA Draft: Jordan Hawkins, Cason Wallace, Trayce Jackson-Davis & Kobe Bufkin Among Prospects Lakers Met With At Combine
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

As the Los Angeles Lakers attempt to work their way back in the Western Conference Finals from a 2-0 deficit, there are also some offseason matters that need to be tended to. One of the main offseason points of emphasis is the 2023 NBA Draft.

The Draft does not take place until June 22, but the Draft Combine and lottery were held in Chicago this last week, meaning NBA teams got their first up-close look and time to speak with various prospects. The Lakers, holding draft pick Nos. 17 and 47, should have a wide variety of prospects to choose from.

They’ve already begun their pre-draft process by meeting with four different players who are all potential first-round talents. This group includes Connecticut guard Jordan Hawkins, Kentucky guard Cason Wallace, Indiana forward Trayce Jackson-Davis and Michigan guard Kobe Bufkin.

Of these four players, no one has been connected to the Lakers more than Hawkins. Considered an ideal fit alongside LeBron James, Hawkins is a three-and-D guard that has already identified his similarity to players like Miami Heat guard Max Strus. Hawkins is projected to be drafted somewhere in the 15-25 range.

Kentucky’s Wallace is perhaps the most out-of-reach player for the Lakers, as there’s a strong belief that he won’t make it past the top 10 of the draft. Wallace is one of the best perimeter defenders in the 2023 draft class and would be a steal for L.A. is he somehow was available at 17.

Jackson-Davis is a two-way small-ball big man that has the highest variance in draft position of almost any player in this class. He could be a solid pick for the Lakers at No. 17, but there’s also a world in which he falls to L.A.’s No. 47 pick. His situation will be monitored closely on draft day.

Finally, Bufkin has been one of the highest risers in the weeks leading up to now. He began the college season as a low second round pick, if drafted at all, but is now being mocked as high as the top 10. He’ll likely settle in around the teens, and the Lakers would certainly grab him if they had the opportunity given the team’s known connection to Michigan-based players.

Austin Reaves discusses Lakers mentality

Another draft success for the Lakers, Austin Reaves, discussed the message for the team after dropping Game 2 to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals.

“Don’t get down,” Reaves said of the message in the locker room. “I mean, Denver’s the one seed for a reason. They’re a really good basketball team and quote, unquote they did what they were supposed to do here. Obviously, we don’t love that, we wish we could have got one, two, whatever. But it’s time for us to lock in on Game 3, see what we did in this game, last game that worked, didn’t work, areas that we could get better, watch film and like just move on. Can’t, I mean, I wish you could win them all, but it’s not the nature of any sport.”

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