The Los Angeles Lakers were at the center of a flurry of activity on the night of the 2018 NBA Draft, scooping up three (and two official) draft picks while adding three players in undrafted free agency. Among those selections was Kansas guard Svi Mykhailiuk, who Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson were thrilled to see available when it was their turn to pick.
Why were they so thrilled? Well, for one, Mykhailiuk had arguably the most impressive workout of any player they brought in during the predraft process, which was an extensive list indeed.
But while that session almost assuredly had an impact on the team, valuing workouts too much over a players’ entire body of work is dangerous, and the Lakers say they didn’t fall prey to such a pitfall. As outlined by Mike Trudell of Lakers.com, players like Mykhailiuk are exactly what Johnson has been after for a while:
Meanwhile, Johnson has been coveting Mykhailiuk’s primary skill since he took the job.
“Magic has preached over and over again adding shooting to our core,” said Pelinka. “He’s a 20-year-old player that was really one of the best knock down shooters we had in our building during the draft process. Beautiful stroke.”
Mykhailiuk has gotten a lot of attention for that shooting stroke, as to be expected for a player who shot 40.9 percent from behind the arc during his four seasons at Kansas. However, that stat might also (somehow) be understating just how good Mykhailiuk is as a shooter.
Friend of the site and burner account for a sentient calculator Cranjis McBasketball has more:
Svi's catch & shoot open 3-point percentage by season:— Cranjis McBasketball (@T1m_NBA) June 22, 2018
Freshman: 55% (on tiny sample)
So long story short, Mykhailiuk can shoot the lights out. But can he do anything else? He’ll have to if he wants to do anything close to approaching the level of value brought by the player he models himself after:
“I would probably say Klay Thompson cause we’re the same height and the same body and same style of the game.”— ESPNLosAngeles (@ESPNLosAngeles) June 23, 2018
- @Sviat_10 on who he models his game after
It’s fitting that Mykhailiuk brings up Thompson, because much of the skepticism over this pick — and Mykhailiuk’s future value — is centered on if he can be more that just a shooter. Thompson is one of the best defensive guards in the league, but for right now, it would be enough for Mykhailiuk to just defend well enough to stay on the floor.
Pelinka, who called Mykhailiuk “a tough guy,” seems to think he can.
Pelinka cited times in the NCAA Tourney where Mykhailiuk – who is 6’7’’ – guarded elite players like Marvin Bagley (2nd overall pick), and didn’t back down.
Cranjis — who dedicated an entire, worth-your-time thread to Mykhailiuk’s defense — says the film he watched backs that up:
Early Svi defensive notes:— Cranjis McBasketball (@T1m_NBA) June 22, 2018
- Closes out v well
- He's exactly where you want him positionally like 95% of the time
- Tags roll men & recovers well
- I'm seeing him do a lot of talking & pointing to switch
- Defends w/feet, doesn't commit dumb fouls on drives
- Hops around on D
If Mykhailiuk can subvert the expectations about his defense to just be “not actively hurtful” on that end, then it would seem like he’s a lock to find some minutes for a Lakers team starved for shooting. Should it come to pass, such a scenario also sounds like exactly what Johnson and Pelinka envisioned when he fell to them in the draft.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.