The Los Angeles Lakers sat down for an interview with University of Utah center Jakob Poeltl, who is expected to be a lottery pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. While the team won’t know whether they have a top-three pick or not until the draft lottery on Tuesday, they are taking advantage of interview opportunities at the pre-draft combine just in case they keep the pick.
Poeltl, a seven-footer who hails from Austria, is viewed by some as the draft’s best center. Interestingly enough, Poeltl mentioned a desire to pattern his game after a former Laker, Pau Gasol via Mark Medina of the LA Daily News:
“I can be a lot like Pau Gasol,” said University of Utah sophomore center Jakob Poeltl, who interviewed with the Lakers on Friday here at the NBA pre-draft combine. “He’s a guy who has good touch around the basket and is a very good passer. He can dribble the ball. He’s even stepping out and shooting 3’s. I hope I can get there too. He’s a winner and won championships. I can do that, too.”
Center will certainly be a position of need should the Lakers keep their pick. With Roy Hibbert likely departing and Tarik Black better suited for a backup role, the team is in need of a high-quality big man. Whether or not Poeltl fits that bill is up for debate, but he is in the running to be one of the first bigs off the board along with Croatia’s Dragan Bender, Marquette’s Henry Ellenson, and Kentucky’s Skal Labissiere.
Brandon Ingram and Ben Simmons are expected to be the first two picks on draft night, but after that, it’s anyone’s guess. If the Lakers wind up with the third pick Poeltl will likely be in the mix, especially if he can show the Gasol-esque versatility that he aspires to.
That kind of skill set would particularly fit well in Lakers coach Luke Walton’s offense. The Lakers would also consider Kentucky guard Jamal Murray, who they were impressed with after a recent interview as well as Ellenson, whom the team also interviewed while in Chicago.
Of course, right now everything is just speculation until the Lakers know the results of the draft lottery, where they will have a 55.8% chance of getting a top-three pick.