Lakers News: Jesse Buss Explains Why He Prefers Drafting Best Player Available Over Fit
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

If there is one area of the Los Angeles Lakers organization that has delivered time and time again, it has been the scouting department. Led by director of scouting and assistant general manager Jesse Buss, the Lakers have done an outstanding job of identifying talent and then developing them once they join the organization.

Kyle Kuzma, Alex Caruso, Josh Hart, Larry Nance Jr., Ivica Zubac, Jordan Clarkson, Austin Reaves and Max Christie were all selected no earlier than 27th overall and in the case of Caruso and Reaves were undrafted altogether. Where many teams struggle, the Lakers are thriving and Buss has some guidelines he tends to follow more often than not.

In a recent behind the scenes draft video on the Lakers’ YouTube page, Buss spoke about his belief that you make more mistakes drafting for fit as opposed to simply taking the best player available:

“I will say, we do take fit into consideration, but from my experience I’ve seen more mistakes made by drafting by fit and by immediate need as opposed to taking the most talented player. The most talented player is going to find a way to get on the court and produce. There’s many cases, but if we had taken a guy that maybe fit a better position for us at that time, we might’ve not ended up with Austin Reaves.”

As Buss said, the Lakers will identify their areas of need and look to address them in the draft, but he won’t force a pick that fits the need over someone who is simply better. Oftentimes teams who need a center will simply draft one, even though there are other more talented players on the board and that can lead to players failing to live up to expectations.

For the Lakers, if a player is the best available and fits a need then it’s ideal, but they won’t simply knock players off their board because he plays a certain position where the team is already strong. The Lakers are about acquiring talent, and so far that strategy has paid off very well for them.

Grant Hill praises Lakers’ Austin Reaves for his toughness & basketball IQ

Without a doubt one of the biggest finds for the Lakers scouting department is guard Austin Reaves, who received a hefty new contract this offseason and is also set to play for Team USA at the FIBA World Cup.

Team USA managing director Grant Hill added on to the praise head coach Steve Kerr reaped upon Reaves as well, noting the toughness that it took for him to carve out a career in the NBA after going undrafted. Hill also praised Reaves for his IQ and fearlessness in addition to his overall skillset.

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