The Los Angeles Lakers may not be guaranteed to keep their top-three protected first-round pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, but the front office is still doing their homework. On Friday that preparation included meeting with Indiana forward OG Anunoby at the 2017 NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, according to Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times.
As has been well-covered, the Lakers will only keep their own first-rounder if it remains in the top-three, which it has a 46.9 percent chance to do. Should the Lakers’ pick fall outside of the top-three selections when the 2017 NBA Draft Lottery takes place Tuesday, they have to send the pick to the Philadelphia 76ers as the last active part of their ill-fated Steve Nash sign-and-trade.
Anunoby wouldn’t seem to be a candidate for one of those top-three picks in the draft should the Lakers keep it. Draft Express has the sophomore forward valued as the 14th best prospect in the draft, and the Lakers reportedly have their sights set on either Lonzo Ball, Markelle Fultz, De’Aaron Fox or Josh Jackson should they keep their top-three pick.
Still, it makes sense for the team to do their due diligence with Anunoby, either in the case that that long, versatile and athletic defender drops to them with the 28th overall pick they received from the Houston Rockets for Lou Williams, or if they decide to trade down from the top-three for multiple picks.
According to Anunoby, it sounds like the meeting went about as well as can reasonably be expected:
Indiana forward OG Anunoby met with the Lakers at the combine. Said Magic Johnson was energetic. There was lots of talk of defense.— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) May 12, 2017
Magic Johnson being energetic should be of no surprise to anyone who’s looked at his Twitter account or watched literally any interview he ever did, and the team talking to Anunoby about defense makes even more sense. Anunoby has a reported wingspan of 7’2 and 1⁄4 inches and stands 6’8, and projects to defend basically positions one-through-five at the NBA level.
After a year in which they trotted out one of the worst defenses in franchise history, the Lakers should certainly be looking for defense. Anunoby may not ultimately be the one to give it to them, but the Lakers are right to look at all of their options in case something crazy happens on draft day.
Here is an updating list of every player the Lakers have worked out. Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.