At their second public workout prior to the 2021 NBA Draft, the Lakers brought in a player they conceivably could be drafting with the No. 22 pick on July 29: Virginia guard Trey Murphy III, who is projected by several mock drafts as in Los Angeles’ range in the first round and is a prospect the team already interviewed at the predraft combine last month.
Murphy, a 6’8 wing who hit 43.3% of his threes during his final college season, is projected as exactly the type of three-and-D player every team could use at the next level. Sam Vecenie of The Athletic projected him to go 23rd overall in his latest mock draft, and Jonathan Givony of ESPN projects him as the 18th-best prospect in the 2021 class.
My friend Mike Garcia of the Substack Lakers Draft Scouting evaluated his potential fit for L.A. as follows in a solid pre-draft profile of the wing:
For the Lakers, it’s very simple. The team needs guys that can hit shots, especially ones that can hit from 3-point range at the corners. He can absolutely do that. He doesn’t need a ton of usage to make himself an effective player and keep the engine running. He does just enough to keep defenses guessing in terms of off-ball play and getting top-locked defensively.
Ideally, if his frame could handle it, he would be a 240lb. power forward, handle switches well defensively, and still hit with the same kind of 3-point accuracy. A 3-and-D type with his kind of shot gravity at a frontcourt position would go very far in this league.
Working out alongside Murphy were a few other prospects of varying levels of acclaim: Oklahoma guard Austin Reaves (the 43rd ranked prospect in the draft, per ESPN), VCU point guard Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland (30th), Stanford forward Oscar Da Silva (unranked in the top 100), Michigan forward Chaundee Brown, Jr. (62nd) and NC State forward DJ Funderburk (unranked).
Among those players, Murphy is obviously the most notable one, but Hyland could be a name to keep an eye on as well, and not just because of his badass nickname. If the Lakers value him more highly than the consensus does, then it’s possible he could rise up to pick 22, or that the team could trade back to select him, or buy a second-rounder to select him if he drops. The team could be looking at Reaves for the latter reason as well, while Da Silva, Brown and Funderburk are likely just workout bodies or guys the team is keeping an eye on for possible summer league invites or their G League roster.
In short, whether they keep their first-round pick or trade it for more immediate help, no one can accuse the vaunted Lakers scouting department of not doing their due diligence on a wide range of prospects prior to the draft on July 29. That doesn’t mean they’re going to use the choice, but it does mean they’re getting as much information as possible before they decide.