El Segundo — After Jacob Evans struggled through his turn doing the “Lakers Mentality” drill at the tail end of his workout for the Los Angeles Lakers, he admitted something that was painfully obvious to anyone watching his session.
“Today wasn’t my best shooting day personally. I wanted to shoot the ball better,” Evans said.
Evans didn't do so hot in the Lakers Mentality drill pic.twitter.com/x9tVAm8aZk— TV's Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) June 9, 2018
And more than just shoot poorly, Evans’ shot appeared to have an inconsistent hitch in it, a dip in his release that — while not making his shot unworkable — did make it slightly less aesthetically pleasing to the eye as he shot around in front of the Lakers’ brass towards the tail end of the session.
Jacob Evans shooting with Luke, Magic and Pelinka looking on (and a @LakerFilmRoom live voiceover) pic.twitter.com/YTKs8YcohR— TV's Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) June 9, 2018
Still, shooting is only one part of what’s brought Evans this far. He didn’t rise up to the 29th spot — right around the range of the Lakers’ No. 25 pick — of ESPN’s top-100 2018 NBA Draft prospect rankings just for his shooting, and he feels like he was able to show the Lakers enough of the other stuff he can do.
“I did other things, like play defense,” Evans said. “I made basketball plays, scored, created for my teammates.”
Evans’ NBA ceiling hinges on how many more things he can do outside of shooting. Poor shooting day aside, Evans displayed that he’s the prototypical three-and-D prospect during his three seasons at Cincinnati, shooting 37.7 percent from the behind the arc in his time with the Bearcats.
As for the second part of that arch-type, Evans also became known for playing top-notch defense in college, and he feels like the latter is critical for him to show teams. Especially the Lakers, who he said made defense a point of emphasis during his workout.
Evans said he wants to show teams that he can guard all over the court, whether on the perimeter or switching onto a big to defend them in the post.
“Just being able to be versatile on the defensive end is important, especially in the NBA today,” Evans said.
Evans talked about how contributing to the Lakers getting stops would allow the team to get out and run, citing the way Kyle Kuzma did so for the team last year and how much that helped the Lakers.
However, while Evans is known for his three-and-D skills, he also feels like there are things he didn’t get to show during his college career that he wants to put on display for teams like the Lakers now.
”Being able to create with the ball,” Evans said when I asked him what he’s trying to show teams he can do that they may not have seen while scouting him. “I feel like they’ve seen little flashes of it, but I was playing off of the ball at Cincinnati. But I feel like I’ve surprised a number of teams with my passing ability, and my ability to drive and create and attack the basket, and just break my man down off the dribble.”
Evans wasn’t known for those skills in college, something he chalked up to his role at Cincinnati requiring him to play off-ball a lot more, but there’s a reason he wants to stretch his game.
“The more you can do on a basketball court, that means you have a great chance of playing in this league,” Evans said.
If Evans was able to demonstrate that he can do a lot more than shoot in his Lakers workout, or if the Lakers believe he has unseen talents (much in the way they saw skills for Kuzma beyond what his tape had shown), this could be set to be the third draft in a row where the Lakers’ late first-round pick leaves fans feeling they reached before being proven hilariously wrong once the season rolls around.
All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. 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.