It is still anyone’s guess as to whether or not the 2019-20 NBA season will eventually be finished, but one thing that will definitely go down at some point is the 2020 NBA Draft.
Whether it happens at its original scheduled date or is pushed back, the league will be welcoming in a new class of players at some point which means Rob Pelinka and the Los Angeles Lakers front office will be closely watched.
While the Anthony Davis trade did cost the Lakers a lot of draft picks, their 2020 first round pick was not one of them, which means the front office will have the opportunity to add a player who can help the team. Obviously, the pick would be at the end of the first round, but that hasn’t stopped them from finding gems before.
One other issue for the draft is the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has altered a lot of scouting options that teams normally can employ. However, that hasn’t stopped Pelinka and the Lakers front office from putting in a ton of work as he told the New York Times:
“The in-person workouts and the combine and all of that type of stuff looks like it will be significantly impacted by COVID-19, but it doesn’t mean that the work stops,” Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said. “Our scouts are doing tons of film study. I’m doing tons of synergy, watching, studying guys overseas, studying guys here, and that work has to continue. We have to be as well-prepared as we can for when the draft occurs.”
The pandemic significantly affected the college basketball season as conference tournaments and March Madness were shut down. Additionally, in-person workouts or the NBA Draft Combine aren’t possibilities right now which not only gives teams an idea of a player’s physical tools, but a chance to interview them in person. Different teams like to run players through their own set of drills, but that simply isn’t possible right now.
Video interviews are still possible, but game tapes are now the primary and maybe only source for scouts and front offices to judge players which makes the job far more difficult.
The Lakers have done a great job in recent seasons of finding good players in the late first round and even further back. Kyle Kuzma, Larry Nance Jr., Jordan Clarkson, Josh Hart, and Ivica Zubac were all quality players selected in the 20s or later and Talen Horton-Tucker has looked very promising in the G League.
The opportunity will be there for the Lakers and it is great that Pelinka and his team are focused on the task at hand because with the lack of scouting tools at their disposal, they will need to be even more meticulous.