After the Los Angeles Lakers dealt away their only draft pick as part of the trade to acquire Russell Westbrook, it became doubtful that the team would be involved in the 2021 NBA Draft. There was an outside chance that the Lakers could trade back in the draft, perhaps in the second round, but ultimately the team decided against it.
But once the draft ended, the Lakers immediately went to work in bringing on some young players who the team could develop. The Lakers have done well with their two-way contracts previously, most notably Alex Caruso becoming a legit rotation player. In addition, both Devontae Cacok and Kostas Antetokounmpo were beloved by their Lakers teammates.
Now the team has moved on to some new players as two-way guys, and the first player signed to the deal almost immediately after the NBA Draft ended was Gonzaga wing Joel Ayayi, via Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:
Gonzaga’s Joel Ayayi has agreed to a two-way contract with the Lakers, source tells ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 30, 2021
For his part, Ayayi himself also took to Twitter to express his excitement at joining the purple and gold:
God’s plan🙏🏾 been there before.. can’t wait @Lakers 💛💜
— Joel Ayayi (@joel_ayayi) July 30, 2021
Following the Westbrook acquisition, the main need for the Lakers is obviously three-point shooting, and Ayayi is a player who can help in that facet. Ayayi averaged 12 points and 6.9 rebounds per game last season for Gonzaga while shooting 38.9% from three-point range. Additionally, Ayayi was part of a loaded Bulldogs team last year that included a pair of first-round picks so he is more than comfortable playing off the ball making an impact.
Ayayi is also a solid playmaker who can handle the ball in pick-and-roll situations and is an active defender who works hard on that end of the floor.
As an undrafted player on a two-way deal, Ayayi shouldn’t be expected to make any serious impact on a team with championship expectations. But the Lakers have been great at development, and Ayayi has all of the tools to be an ideal 3-and-D player down the line.
Lakers add Mac McClung, Chaundee Brown to Summer League team
In addition to filling their two-way spots, the Lakers also added a pair of players to their Summer League team. Texas Tech guard Mac McClung signed a training camp deal with the Lakers while Michigan wing Chaundee Brown signed an Exhibit-10 deal.
McClung was an outstanding point guard and leading scorer for the Red Raiders last season, while Brown is another 3-and-D prospect with a lot of potential on both ends of the floor.