The 2021 NBA is draft is just around the corner and while it’s certainly possible that the Los Angeles Lakers use their pick — the No. 22 pick — in a trade down the line, they’ll have to make their selection themselves this year because of the Stepien Rule, which prohibits teams from trading first-round draft picks in consecutive years.
Even if they don’t keep their pick, there’s a benefit in working out players ahead of the draft because second-round picks can be traded for or bought, the latter of which we saw in 2019, when the Lakers bought the No. 46 pick from the Orlando Magic to draft Talen Horton-Tucker. That’s not to mention undrafted free agents, who often become candidates for two-way contracts (Caruso went undrafted in 2016 and signed a two-way contract with the Lakers in 2017).
Will the next Caruso, Horton-Tucker or Kyle Kuzma be available when the Lakers are on the clock on July 29? We can’t say for sure, but if they are, there’s reason to believe the Lakers’ scouting department will sniff them out.
Here’s a list of notable players the Lakers have drafted in recent years:
2019: Talen Horton-Tucker (46)
2018: Moritz Wagner (25), Isaac Bonga (39)
2017: Lonzo Ball (2), Kyle Kuzma (27), Josh Hart (30), Thomas Bryant (42)
2016: Brandon Ingram (2), Ivica Zubac (32)
2015: D’Angelo Russell (2), Larry Nance Jr. (27), Anthony Brown (34)
2014: Julius Randle (7), Jordan Clarkson (46)
With the exception of Horton-Tucker, the Lakers worked out or interviewed all of the players they drafted, so it will be worth monitoring who they’re talking to leading up to the draft. For that reason, we’re going to update this story stream with every report that comes out about the Lakers’ pre-draft interview and workout process. We’ll also update this with out own pre-draft coverage.