With the NBA Draft just a few weeks away, the Los Angeles Lakers are probably in final deliberations over who they’re going to take with the No. 28 pick in the first round. They have been almost exclusively linked to guards so far in mock drafts, and we already know they had a good interview with TCU guard Desmond Bane and are one of several teams to show interest in Stanford guard Tyrell Terry, both of whom should be available in their range.
On Thursday, a few representatives from the team were in attendance to watch two more guards who will be part of the draft when it takes place on Nov. 18 (even if only one of them is likely to be available in the Lakers’ range), as LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope were among a sizable contingent in the building to watch Georgia guard — and possible top pick — Anthony Edwards and his fellow guard, Tyrese Maxey of Kentucky, work out at their pro day.
LeBron, AD & KCP among many NBA players in attendance pic.twitter.com/75i8nq1Ore— Jorge Sedano (@Sedano) October 30, 2020
This doesn’t necessarily indicate any direct front office interest on the part of the Lakers, however, because both guards are represented by Klutch Sports, the agency — led by Rich Paul — that also reps James, Davis, Caldwell-Pope and several other members of the NBA champions. They weren’t the only Klutch players in attendance, which is unsurprising considering the family atmosphere of that group.
LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Draymond Green, Trae Young, Quavo are among those in attendance for Klutch Sports‘ Pro Day for Anthony Edwards and Tyrese Maxey in LA.— The Athletic NBA (@TheAthleticNBA) October 30, 2020
(H/T @ShamsCharania) pic.twitter.com/861IJPnjH5
Still, it was hard not to notice them in the background of nearly every shot from the workout.
So why is this relevant to a Lakers site? Well, for one thing, there isn’t a ton happening right now, and LeBron’s shirt is cool, so those are factors if we’re being honest. But also, we can’t rule out Klutch representation as a factor in the Lakers’ decision making at this point. Last year’s roster featured six Klutch clients among 15 full-time members of the roster — James, Davis, Caldwell-Pope, J.R. Smith, Dion Waiters and Talen Horton-Tucker — meaning that 40% of your 2020 champions were repped by Paul and Co.
That obviously doesn’t mean a player being with Klutch is a guarantee they end up on the Lakers, or that Rob Pelinka and the front office don’t also like those players on their basketball merits, but when an agency and team are intertwined as closely as the Lakers and Klutch are, it bears taking notice of. Look no further than last year’s draft, when the Lakers bought a pick to select Horton-Tucker, to see how an agency and team having a good working relationship can help influence moves, or make them smoother. This is natural, and plenty of general managers and agencies have similar good relationships. It’s human nature to want to do deals with people you get along with, after all.
In this particular case, this is really only relevant as it pertains to Maxey, because Edwards is expected to go within the top several picks in the draft, if not No. 1 overall. But Maxey is projected in many mocks to be in the second half of the first round, right in the range the Lakers’ pick falls into. If he drops, expect him to be a consideration for a team that seems to almost exclusively be looking at guards so far, and has a great working relationship with his reps and wants to keep them happy.
The always-excellent Sam Vecenie of The Athletic is currently projecting Maxey to the Heat at No. 20 in his latest mock draft, but had a good scouting report on what he’d bring to the table if selected:
Maxey is a tough kid with a terrific, powerful frame that looks like that of a free safety. He’s 6-foot-3 with a 6-foot-6 wingspan. That often fits in Miami. He also has a real personality to him and is thought to be a great kid and a tremendous worker. More than the non-basketball stuff, though, Maxey is a real threat as an on-ball scoring guard with great craft. He finishes well at the basket, has a terrific floater game and does a great job getting downhill to get into the paint. He’s also a strong on-ball defender.
Ultimately, the big question here is the jumper and what level it gets to. Everyone around the industry is agreed that he is a better shooter than his 29 percent mark from 3 showed last year. But is he a 35 percent shooter? Does he have a chance to get up to 39 percent in the right circumstance? That number is going to tell the tale of how far Maxey goes in his career as a useful player. There probably isn’t a better place for him to land than Miami if that’s the question mark, though. The Heat have developed confident players to work within their jump shot extremely well in recent years.
The Lakers could use a guard that puts pressure on the rim — it’s why they’re going to be linked to guys like Derrick Rose and Dennis Schroder in trade speculation all offseason — so a player with Maxey’s skillset would make some sense, but we still have to see if the team actually agrees. But as long as he’s with Klutch and has multiple Lakers showing up to his workouts, until he’s selected, he’s a guy worth keeping an eye on as a candidate for the purple and gold.