Dating back to as early as 2014, the scouting department of the Los Angeles Lakers has built a reputation for finding gems late in the NBA draft. From Jordan Clarkson, the No. 46 pick in 2014, to Kyle Kuzma, the No. 27 pick in 2017, the Lakers have a nose for talent.
They’ll have another opportunity to strike gold in June with the Cleveland Cavaliers’ pick which is now locked in at the No. 25 slot. At the forefront of all the decision making on draft day will be Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and assistant general manager Jesse Buss.
Buss sat down with Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report to talk about how the Lakers’ current roster was built and his relationship with Pelinka, who he has been working alongside for just over a year.
“Rob’s leadership style reminds me of how Kobe was as a player,” he continued. “I’m trying to perfect my craft, and I bring 100 percent every single day, and I want you to bring the same. ... I’m going to put my trust in you, and as long as I know that I’m able to ride with you along the way and I trust your ability, we’re going to work great together. Very Kobesque.”
It makes sense that Pelinka would have Kobe Bryant’s “Mamba Mentality.” After all, he did work as Bryant’s agent for 18 years and is as close to Bryant on a personal level as anyone we know of.
With just one full season under his belt, Pelinka still has a lot to learn as a general manager, but he’s off to a roaring start. In just a little over a year, Pelinka has had a hand in drafting three of the Lakers’ core players, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart, and has also put the organization in a position to be a player in free agency as soon as this summer.
It still remains to be seen whether or not the front office can make good on their promise to bring elite talent back to Los Angeles, but Pelinka has built up enough credibility in a short amount of time for fans to at least be hopeful.