The Los Angeles Lakers have mostly kept mum about who they’re working out ahead of the 2021 NBA Draft so far, with no official announcements from the team about who they’ve been looking at for either their No. 22 pick or for undrafted free agency. This is in contrast to previous years, and is also different than how other teams (take the Indiana Pacers, for example) are approaching things.
Is that the Lakers just trying to keep their intentions quiet? Or will the team start to ramp up public workouts as the July 29 draft gets closer? We don’t know one way or the other yet, but until Monday, the only player we knew they had a workout scheduled with was Duke forward Matthew Hurt, and only because he revealed it at the 2021 NBA Draft Combine.
But now we know of at least one other player, as on Monday, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN reported that the team will host Giorgi Bezhanishvili of Illinois this week:
The Lakers will have Illinois’ Giorgi Bezhanishvili in for a workout on Wednesday according to a league source. The 6’9 power forward has a 7’2 wing span and could play multiple positions: https://t.co/A21udbDmsW— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) July 5, 2021
In three seasons at Illinois, Bezhanishvili averaged 8.2 points, 4.3 rebounds and and shot 50.7% from the field. His scoring average declined each year until he declared for the draft after his junior season.
If that doesn’t sound like a first-rounder to you, it’s because Bezhanishvili is probably not. In fact, he’s extremely unlikely to be the Lakers’ choice at No. 22, as he is not currently projected to even be drafted by either Sam Vecenie of The Athletic or Jonathan Givony of ESPN. This workout is likely due diligence from the Lakers for their G League team, Las Vegas Summer League roster, both, or even just bringing in a guy to play against more heralded prospects.
We’ll see if we hear about any of the other names that will be working out with Bezhanishvili — because it seems improbable that this is solo evaluation session — but until then, this workout is probably not worth getting too worked up about one way or the other.