The Lakers interviewed a few prospects right at the start of their time in Chicago for the 2021 NBA Draft Combine, and they haven’t slowed down since then. Tennessee guard Jaden Springer said the team interviewed him, and Duke forward Matthew Hurt revealed that he has scheduled a workout with the purple and gold as well:
Jaden Springer, a likely top-20 pick, says he's interviewed with the Knicks, Raptors, Lakers and Suns among many teams. He read the whole list (helpful!) and the Wizards weren't on it.— Chase Hughes (@ChaseHughesNBCS) June 24, 2021
Rochester native and former Duke forward Matthew Hurt has interviewed at the Combine with the #Mavs, among others. Has workouts coming up with the #Celtics, #Thunder, #Pelicans, #Lakers, #Clippers, #Bucks, and more. pic.twitter.com/fegndEC822— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) June 25, 2021
Hurt is mocked as a late second-round pick by both Jonathan Givony of ESPN and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic, and given that the Lakers don’t currently have a second-rounder, working him out is likely just due diligence for if the front office decides to buy a second-round pick again, or in case he falls out of the draft entirely and enters undrafted free agency.
Springer, interestingly, is a name that could be in the Lakers’ range for their first-round pick (No. 22). Givony has him going 29th to the Phoenix Suns, while Vecenie has him going 25th to the LA Clippers. Our own Ricky O’Donnell of SB Nation is even higher on Springer than that, however, projecting the 6’4 guard at 12th to the Spurs. If the Lakers do add Springer though, they’d be investing in a project more than someone who can help right now.
While Springer is typically projected to go outside of the lottery at this stage of the draft process, it feels like he could easily outplay that slot given his high school pedigree, aggressive point of attack defense, and scoring flashes. Springer was a takeover scorer at IMG Academy who rarely found easy offense on a Tennessee team that lacked spacing and creativity on that end. He was still able to manufacture looks for himself by bulldozing defenders with brute force to get near the basket.
Springer will have to learn scoring tricks around the rim and continue to develop as an outside shooter — he made 43.5 percent of his threes on only 46 attempts — but he can slot nicely into most team contexts as a combo guard who can run offense in a pinch, help get the team out in transition, and act as an off-ball scorer. As his offense develops, Springer should be immediately excellent against smaller guards on the defensive end. Springer may need a couple seasons to develop because he’s one of the youngest players in this draft — four full years younger than Baylor guard Davion Mitchell — but he’s worth betting on for San Antonio team that typically has a patient approach.
Given that Talen Horton-Tucker could barely get on the floor in the playoffs during his second season in the NBA — and barely played at all in his first — it sounds like Springer would certainly be a long-term bet on adding reinforcements down the line rather than someone ready to help a LeBron James and Anthony Davis-led title team right away.
Is that the way the Lakers will try to use this pick, or will they try to get some more immediate help? We won’t know until the draft takes place on Thursday, July 29, but what types of names they continue to get connected to is certainly worth continuing to monitor.