The Los Angeles Lakers are hard at work preparing for the 2018 NBA Draft. With the 25th and 47th picks, the team will have a number of talented prospects available to them, making it imperative that they get a good look at each prospect.
The Lakers brought in UCLA big man Thomas Welsh, among others, for a workout, and he spoke a bit about what it was like playing with former teammate LiAngelo Ball, who also had a workout.
“I loved it. I thought it was a great day. Got a lot of good testing in, got to play with Gelo again, it was a really good day,” Welsh said.
Welsh went on to explain that LiAngelo showed well, particularly during a shooting drill. As of right now, LiAngelo is not projected to be selected in the 2018 Draft, but that could change.
“I think he’s the same guy, he’s a hard-working kid. I had a chance to play with him on 3-on-3, 2-on-2, the live-action stuff, and he’s a lot of fun to play with,” Welsh said.
“He works his tail off. It was really fun to be back on the court with him. We did the shooting drill together at the end and he was shooting it extremely well. That’s one thing he could always do well, and he’s stretched that out to NBA range. It’s exciting to see.”
Interestingly enough, Welsh also mentioned that LiAngelo has indeed gotten better since he left UCLA to go play professionally in Lithuania.
“I don’t think I got a good enough experience of what the competition is like out there to really make a strong statement about that,” Welsh admitted. “Watching him out there today, he was great. I think he’s definitely gotten better from the time I spent with him at UCLA.”
Any pre-draft workout can be overwhelming, especially with the spotlight that a member of the Ball family auditioning can bring. A lot is on the line, but Welsh seemed to do a good job of preventing his nerves from getting to him.
“It’s always a little nerve-wracking coming into these workouts but I think I was more excited than anything,” he said. “Just really excited for this opportunity.”
In the modern NBA, floor spacing has become critical, with even bigs expected to be able to step outside and shoot from the perimeter. In an effort to keep in line with the shift in the way the game is played, Welsh added a 3-point shot to his arsenal during his senior season at UCLA. He believes he was able to show the Lakers flashes of his potential beyond the arc.
“I think so, yeah. I think it’s something I’ve been definitely focusing a lot on improving. It’s definitely come a long way,” said Welsh. “While there’s definitely room for improvement, I’m happy with the progress I’ve made on it.”
Of course, in addition to getting a bit of a reunion with LiAngelo, Welsh also had an opportunity to reunite with former teammate Lonzo Ball, who the Lakers selected with the second overall pick in last year’s draft.
Welsh knows that he’s going to have to fight to make it into the NBA, and with the current small ball trend, seven-footers aren’t in as high of demand as they once were. That said, Welsh is still hopeful that he will wind up in the NBA.
“I think I’m ready to play. Of course, it’s going to be a process for me like it is everybody. I know I’m willing and ready to put in the work necessary to make that a reality,” he said.
With so many prospects available and the depth that is projected for this year’s draft it can be difficult to determine exactly where someone will end up being selected. Welsh himself doesn’t have a clear idea of where he will end up should his name get called on draft night.
“That’s a great question. With that there’s so much uncertainty, frankly. I’m just trying to work as hard as I can right now. That’s kind of out of my control. I think at this point my only job is to play as well as I can, control what I can control, and see what ends up happening.”
As the draft inches closer, Welsh and the other athletes hoping to get select are logging a lot of miles traveling around the country to show teams what they are made of. It isn’t easy, especially when the Lakers emphasize competition and are known to host gruling workouts, but it’s a necessary process to get ready for the draft.
Welsh will attent at least one more workout, this one with the Phoenix Suns, before the NBA Draft takes place in a few weeks.
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