The Los Angeles Lakers might be bringing the most talented group of 2018 NBA Draft prospects they’ve seen yet to the UCLA Health Training Center on Thursday, with Devonte’ Graham of Kansas, Landry Shamet of Wichita State, Billy Preston of Kansas, Tony Carr of Penn State, Josh Okogie of Georgia Tech and Johnathan Williams of Gonzaga set to run through drills in front of the front office, according to a press release.
The announcement was met with enthusiasm from a few of Lakers Twitter’s foremost experts on the draft:
This is an excellent group. I'm excited to see Okogie, Shamet, & Graham in particular. https://t.co/z4eYaIeiXY— Laker Film Room (@LakerFilmRoom) May 30, 2018
Okogie and Shamet are the big ones here, especially Okogie, who's a legitimate option to be the Lakers' selection on draft day. Carr and Graham are more second round options. https://t.co/vNiYZYJXa9— Ben Rosales (@brosales12) May 30, 2018
The group has a pedigree pretty much unmatched by any of the other bunches of prospects the Lakers have brought through El Segundo, with Williams standing as the sole player of the group not ranked among ESPN’s top-100 draft prospects.
Okogie seems to be the most highly regarded of the bunch, and as the 26th-ranked prospect on Jonathan Givony’s aforementioned ESPN rankings, he is right in range of where the Lakers will be picking at No. 25.
Meanwhile, Graham (No. 48), Shamet (No. 53), Preston (No. 80), Carr (No. 56) and Williams (unranked) all appear to be more likely options for the Lakers’ second round pick (No. 47).
For more on the group, we turn to Silver Screen and Roll’s own human draft encyclopedia Ben Rosales:
This is another strong workout group for the Lakers as they get into the meat of workout season, bringing in one solid and one more distant candidate for their first round pick, as well as two second-round prospects.
Okogie is one of the strongest candidates the Lakers have brought in that could be picked with the Cleveland pick on draft night and comes with a skill and physical package that should be very attractive for the Lakers’ needs moving forward. Long (7’0’’ wingspan despite being only 6’4.5’’ in shoes), athletic (42’’ max vertical, 11.08 second lane agility time), and young (still only 19), Okogie was very productive on a bad Georgia Tech team and managed to produce despite a poor supporting cast.
He mainly did this by drawing heaps of fouls, something that might not pay dividends with his so-so craft at the next level, but he does leverage his physical traits well and his shooting (38.0% from three, bolstered by a solid FT%) looks legitimate, including some shooting chops off the dribble. On the other end, he’s better on ball than off, but his length and particularly his strength (courtesy of a low center of gravity) give him a good deal of defensive versatility and intrigue, particularly in a switch-y Lakers defense.
Okogie needs to improve as a playmaker and on his instincts with the ball in his hands, but considering his age and profile, he’d slot in beautifully on the wing next to an already strong defensive guard group in Lonzo and Hart who are already capable of switching assignments on defense.
Shamet is more of an outside candidate for the Lakers’ second rounder but he’s not a totally outlandish one either, proving himself one of college basketball’s best shooters over his time at Wichita State (43.7% career from three on 5.1 attempts per game). He acted as Wichita State’s de facto point guard this past season and proved that he does have some equity as a playmaker, showing some capacity as a pick-and-roll operator and in finding shooters and cutters. This plays well with Shamet’s shooting, as despite a low release, he gets it off quickly and it’s probably a more valuable tool off the dribble in the P&R than it is running off screens a la Kyle Korver.
Nevertheless, this level of shooter is useful and Shamet is also a good cutter and an underrated finisher considering his slight frame, which does cause problems for him on D. Shamet projects as possibly only a defender of guards as a result, although he is decently long and is a very smart help defender; long-term his value would be enhanced by being able to check point guards more consistently. For the Lakers, he would definitely help as a backup point guard, a big shot in the arm in terms of shooting, and another smart help defender to a team full of them.
That noted, he’s probably one of the outside candidates for LA’s pick barring a strong workout but would be a prime choice to move up for in the second round.
As for Carr and Graham, they are more choices for LA’s second rounder, Graham being the stronger choice of the two. A decent shooter on or off ball and a serviceable distributor, Graham’s bigger problem is that he’s a bit on the old side for a prospect, limiting his upside and is almost certainly a mono-positional defender at the next level. It’s unlikely that he falls to the Lakers in the second but would certainly be one of the stronger choices available if he did.
Carr, on the other hand, tested terribly at the combine for a guard (only a 31.5’’ max vertical and a 11.89 lane agility mark) and it’s an open question of whether his gaudy per game production at Penn State can translate to the pros.
Given the low 2P% (39.5%), this would seem to be unlikely and decent length for a PG (6’4.5’’ in shoes with a 6’8’’ wingspan) doesn’t help things too much here, especially with weak showings in STL% and BLK% in college. He’ll be around in the second round for LA to pick most likely but there probably will be better choices available there.
Preston (a former McDonald’s All-American who was at Kansas but couldn’t play due to disciplinary issues) and Williams both look like UDFA material.
Because of the talent involved, this workout and the reaction to it will be worth keeping an eye on Thursday. Stay tuned to Silver Screen and Roll for more coverage.
All stats per sports-reference.com. A full list of every prospect we know the Lakers have worked out is available here. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen, or support his work via Venmo here or Patreon here.