With Jesse Buss at the helm of the scouting department, the Los Angeles Lakers have found gold over recent years with their picks in the NBA Draft. With four picks last year, the Lakers added Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart and Thomas Bryant to the organization.
Ball was the headliner as a local product and No. 2 overall selection, but Kuzma and Hart enjoyed successful rookie seasons themselves. The trio, along with Brandon Ingram, have formed a young core that was enticing enough to factor into the signing of LeBron James.
Los Angeles looked to add to their core in the 2018 NBA Draft by selecting Moritz Wagner, Isaac Bonga and Svi Mykhailiuk.
In an interview with Mike Trudell, Buss detailed the process with which the Lakers came to drafting Mykhailiuk:
“He’s always been a favorite of my department for the past several years. He really came on our radar when he participated in the Hoops Summit four years ago. Then he went to Kansas, a big-time program, and we watched his growth. He didn’t play a big role his first two seasons at Kansas, but in his junior year, he started and was a big part of that team. He tested the Draft waters – we interviewed him – and we told him he could probably get drafted as a shooter, but he hadn’t had a chance to expand and show all the nuances of his game. I felt like when he came back for his senior year he exploded onto the scene. He was a more confident player. He put on about 10 or 15 pounds of muscle, which was completely noticeable between the interviews at the Combine. He’s a guy that’s always been one of the best shooters in college basketball and one of the top shooters in this Draft. We definitely think he had more to his game than just being a sharpshooter, and he showed that at Kansas last year. He’s underrated as an athlete. He has great size for his position. He’s underrated as a defender. One thing people don’t talk about is his assist numbers were the biggest jump for him from his junior to senior year. His playmaking ability really improved. We felt there’s a player with more room to grow given his age*, and it’s not very often you come across a prospect like that. *Mykhailiuk turned 21 on June 10. He was only 17 for his freshman year at Kansas.”
He added the Lakers feared Mykhailiuk would not be available to them in the second round:
“Terrified. We felt like he was basically a first round talent. We were surprised he was there at 39, and much more surprised he was there at 47.”
While Mykhailiuk profiled as a prototypical shooter, he demonstrated an ability to do much more during Summer League play. Mykhailiuk regularly put the ball on the floor and drew praise from Lakers Summer League head coach Miles Simon for his ability to finish at the basket.
The 21-year-old was pleased with the experience he gained playing in Sacramento and Las Vegas, and now heads into the regular season voted by his peers as one of the top shooters from the 2018 NBA Draft.