It may be the offseason but the front office of the Los Angeles Lakers is hard at work preparing for the 2018 NBA Draft. As the team looks to rebuild and make their way back to the playoffs, they are searching for players that can help get them to the next level.
With the 25th and 47th overall draft picks, the Lakers will almost certainly look to find shooting, which was one of the team’s biggest weaknesses last season. They brought in Maryland guard Kevin Huerter for a pre-draft workout, though he was out to prove that he can do more than just find the bottom of the net.
“I feel like I made shots today but something I’m trying to do as I go through this process is show I can do more than shoot,” Huerter said. “I can get to the basket, get guys open shots and create for other people.
“We did a lot of full court, guys are just trying to figure out how to play with each other, so it’s a little tough because you’ve never played with these guys before. Once you start feeling each other out, I think towards the end of it, guys are better.”
Of course, Huerter wasn’t the only player the Lakers took a look at. They also had Duke’s Grayson Allen in, who Huerter was familiar with from afar. “I met him last week at the Combine, seen him on TV a couple times, but this was our first time going against each other,” he explained
Huerter, like many other NBA hopefuls, is traveling from one team to the next working out and hoping to make an impact. He had already visited the Boston Celtics, Atlanta Hawks and Brooklyn Nets before working out for the Lakers.
Huerter will next go through a pre-draft workout with the Utah Jazz on Monday. It’s a busy but enjoyable process for him. “Traveling around and getting to see the different practice facilities is great. Getting to meet Magic, that type of stuff,” Huerter said.
This wasn’t the Lakers’ first look at Huerter, as they got to know him a bit during the NBA pre-draft combine, where they went through an interview.
“It went well,” Huerter said. “It was just us getting to know each other. They asked about my life playing basketball, that type of thing. Getting to know my family.”
For many athletes, interviewing with a team isn’t their strong suit. They prefer to let their play do the talking, so going through the process can be unnerving. Huerter, however, felt mostly at ease chatting with Los Angeles’ decision makers.
“Not really, because I think it’s pretty easy talking about your own life. You try not to be nervous and be yourself in there,” he said. “When you’re talking about your life experiences and family, usually it’s a pretty easy conversation.”
The modern NBA is all about versatility, so teams are looking for players who can do everything well. Kyle Kuzma, who Lakers stole with the 27th pick in last year’s draft, is a fantastic example of the modern NBA player.
Huerter believes he can prove his versatility by creating open shots for teammates in addition to showing off his own marksmanship. He averaged 3.4 assists per game for Maryland last season in addition to hitting 41 percent from three, which could serve him well in the NBA.
“There’s not something I haven’t shown at Maryland. With the NBA space, I think I’ll be a guy that can space the floor and obviously knock down shots. But again, get other guys involved,” Huerter said. “I think a big part of my game is putting the ball on the floor and making plays. I’ve got a pretty good feel for the game and getting teammates shots.”
At the conclusion of his Lakers workout, Huerter, just like the rest of the prospects who have come through UCLA Health Training Center, completed a grueling 90-second drill that involves sprinting up and down the floor and hitting shots.
It can be exhausting, but Huerter took it in stride. “It’s more mental than physical. I think you’ve got to figure out how you want to get as many points as possible,” he said.
“I went more shooting layups, hit my twos, and took a lot of threes at the end. It’s a lot of mental toughness. You know you’re going to get tired at the end but you’ve got to continue to make shots.”
Huerter will show teams what he can do and then hope that his name is called on June 21.
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