NBA Draft: NBA TV analyst Grant Hill assesses Lakers’ draft needs

In this Jan. 13, 2014, file photo, Kansas center Joel Embiid (21) drives past Iowa State forward Georges Niang during an NCAA college basketball game in Ames, Iowa. Embiid didn't pick up a basketball until a few years ago, when a friend informed him that very few 7-footers succeed in soccer. A couple months later, Embiid was lured to a basketball camp in the Cameroon capital of Yaounde run by Timberwolves forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, one of just two players from Cameroon to have played in the NBA. (Charlie Neibergall/The Associated Press File)

In this Jan. 13, 2014, file photo, Kansas center Joel Embiid (21) drives past Iowa State forward Georges Niang during an NCAA college basketball game in Ames, Iowa. Embiid didn’t pick up a basketball until a few years ago, when a friend informed him that very few 7-footers succeed in soccer. A couple months later, Embiid was lured to a basketball camp in the Cameroon capital of Yaounde run by Timberwolves forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, one of just two players from Cameroon to have played in the NBA. (Charlie Neibergall/The Associated Press File)

Below is a recent interview with NBA TV analyst Grant Hill, who provided one of many expert voices surrounding who the Lakers should pick with the seventh pick of the 2014 NBA Draft on Thursday.

When you look at who might be available in the seventh slot, who would best help the Lakers?


Hill:
“Seven is a tough spot. Obviously you don’t know what’s going to happen with Joel Embiid and the situation there with him having surgery due to a stress fracture. Seven is tough because you don’t know for sure. You can model things out. But typically things never go according to plan. The Lakers, I think it depends on what ultimately their goal and objective is. Are they trying to retool quickly and make one last run at it when Kobe Bryant is there or are they preparing for the future? I think depending on what they’re trying to do depends on how they’re trying to approach it. I’m sure they’re still trying to game plan. They haven’t decided who’s going to coach their team. But in reality, they can get a good player. At seven, you can get a player who is a rotation player and a player that can have an impact and be a part of the future. Exactly who that is, I can’t tell you. I don’t know. They have a lot of needs.

What’s going to happen with Steve Nash? Is Nash going to play and is he going to be healthy? What are they going to re-sign Pau Gasol? There’s a lot of decisions that need to be made for this franchise. They can say, ‘We want to fill a need or just find the best available player we can get at seven.’ There’s a lot of factors that I think are involved with the Lakers.

One of the possibilities entails the Lakers trying to upgrade at point guard, getting someone such as Dante Exum and Marcus Smart if they’re available, so they could have Nash play a mentorship role off the bench partly because of his back. Playing with Steve, how do you think that idea would play out?


Hill:
“If those two guys are there at seven, you have to entertain the possibility of drafting them and having a guy like Nash. He helped Goran Dragic [in Phoenix]. Having played with both of those guys in Goran’s first year, Steve was still playing and playing at a high level. He was able to learn from watching and listening. Steve may not be able to go out and play like he could play back in 2007 and 2008. But his intellect and understanding of the game and him being there as a mentor would be huge.

It’s maybe even more powerful when he’s playing. When he’s playing, he’s competing. Those guys are different players than Steve in terms of style. Marcus is more of a power point guard and has good size and strength and good toughness. Dante, from what I’ve seen, is more of a taller guard and more athletic. But they’re both very talented and very skilled. You can’t help but learn from having a Steve Nash around. That could be a good strategy for the Lakers.”
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NBA Draft Q&A: Former seventh overall pick Bobby Hurley copes with car accident shortening his career

"13 Jan 1995:  Guard Bobby Hurley of the Sacramento Kings moves the ball during a game against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.  The Kings won the game, 89-79. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel  /Allsport"

“13 Jan 1995: Guard Bobby Hurley of the Sacramento Kings moves the ball during a game against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. The Kings won the game, 89-79. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel /Allsport”

Below is a recent interview with former Sacramento Kings guard Bobby Hurley, who was selected seventh overall in the 1993 NBA Draft. Hurley lasted only five seasons in part because of struggles recovering from a nearly life-threatening car accident he experienced his rookie season. Hurley, who is currently the head coach of the University of Buffalo’s men’s basketball team, provided tremendous insight for a story on former seventh overall picks, highlighting their successes and failures and how that ties into the uncertainty what impact the 2014 seventh pick can provide for the Lakers.
When you look at this year’s incoming draft class, what sort of impact do you think a seventh pick could make on the Lakers

Hurley: They can be difference makers in that spot. That will change form year to year. With my situation and having been the seventh pick and thinking I was going to make a big impact on my franchise and I was drafted, that didn’t really go as planned for me. There were some extenuating circumstances that went along with that. Here, there’s less likelihood that there is a ‘can’t miss’ pick. Obviously, you would be better if you were drafting in the top three. But I still feel you can get an All-Star caliber player at that position.”

Which players that would likely be available at that seventh slot do you think would best help the Lakers?


Hurley:
I can’t really say anything about players’ injuries or things like that are happening. But things that I’m aware of in the press with a guy like Julius Randle, his body and his ability to rebound and ability to score in the lane and athleticism and as a high school player, I know he demonstrated an ability to play away from the basket too. He’s intriguing as a guy whose stock I would consider available at that spot. Aaron Gordon has a lot of upside too and is a high level defender. Then there’s some other players moving up the charts based on workouts. That was always an enjoyable process for me to get a chance to work out for a number of teams.”

Can you take me back to that moment in 1993? What do you remember about what your expectations were when the Kings drafted you seventh overall?


Hurley:
I was coming off a great career at Duke and had a lot of success there. In the ACC, I played against a lot of NBA high caliber point guards. I felt pretty confident I could be a difference maker in that franchise. That’s what I was thinking about. I went after it hard in the workouts just to make sure I was getting drafted to a team that could utilize my abilities. That’s a part of this, too. It’s about the right fit with the coach, what the organization is looking for and then bringing in a player that fits that need. It was an exciting process and it was a dream come true for me to be drafted at that level.”
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NBA Draft: Elfrid Payton’s draft stock rising

"Lakers host potential draft picks for workouts at Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo Friday June 20, 2014.      Photo By  Robert Casillas / Daily Breeze"

“Lakers host potential draft picks for workouts at Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo Friday June 20, 2014. Photo By Robert Casillas / Daily Breeze”

Within a one-month span, Elfrid Payton has morphed from a projected late first-round pick toward a prospect suddenly catching buzz.

The Louisiana-Lafayette guard impressed enough buzz in his pre-draft workouts for some circumstances to change. The NBA has invited Payton to sit in the green room during the Draft on Thursday, which is typically reserved for prospective lottery picks. The Lakers hosted Payton on Friday in what marked his second workout with the team. And this time, the number of reporters surrounding him multiplied substantially.

“That was cool that they think that much of my game that they want to see me again,” said Payton, who averaged 19.3 points, 5.8 assists and 2.3 steals per game with the Ragin’ Cajuns. “They like me to some degree. A lot of people didn’t really watch me. I think the want to make sure what they saw is real.”

The Lakers walked away impressed.

A team source that witnessed Payton’s workout gushed about his playmaking, believing he struck a great balance in showing strong court vision while staying patient.

“I’m just a laid back person on and off the court,” said Payton, who said he tries to model his game after the Clippers’ Chris Paul, San Antonio’s Tony Parker and Boston’s Rajon Rondo. “It translates to the game. I never try to rush anything or force anything.”

Well, except for one thing.

Payton may force NBA teams, including the Lakers, to consider him as a lottery pick.

“I’m thankful for the opportunity,” Payton said. “It’s fun going to al these teams and showcase what I can do.”


RELATED:


NBA Draft: Lakers would consider selecting Joel Embiid if available

NBA Draft: Julius Randle eases concerns about foot, impresses Lakers in workout

Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart to work out with Lakers, eager to show his maturity

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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NBA Draft, Lakers chat: Talking prospects, Kobe Bryant, coaching search


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Kobe Bryant says he’s “100 percent” healthy


Nick Young wants multi-year deal with Lakers; willing to take hometown discount

Kobe Bryant laughs off Jurgen Klinnsman’s criticism on contract extension

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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NBA Draft: Julius Randle against league increasing age limit

Julius Randle of University of Kentucky at a pre-draft workout at the Lakers gym in El Segundo, CA. Tuesday June 17, 2014. (Thomas R. Cordova-Daily Breeze/Press-Telegram)

Julius Randle of University of Kentucky at a pre-draft workout at the Lakers gym in El Segundo, CA. Tuesday June 17, 2014. (Thomas R. Cordova-Daily Breeze/Press-Telegram)

The moment Julius Randle finds out which NBA lottery team chooses him, he will officially represent part of a trend in which college basketball players enter the professional ranks as a so-called “one and done.”

Randle and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver may shake each other’s hands and offer the usual pleasantries once that happens during the NBA Draft on June 26. But the two share philosophical differences on an important issue. Silver has said he wants to increase the age limit for players to enter the league from 19 to 20, while Randle argued otherwise.

“I think everybody should have free choice, whether it’s high school, college, four years of college,” Randle said Tuesday after his pre-draft workout with the Lakers at their practice facility in El Segundo. “Who is going to tell the kid when he’s ready? So I think everybody should have a free choice. But I know the Commissioner and he’s done a great job so far, and I think he’ll do what’s best for the league.”
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NBA Draft: Julius Randle believe he’s ready for Kobe Bryant’s demanding expectations

The last time Julius Randle tried to talk to Kobe Bryant, the Lakers’ star brushed him off.

The reasons had little to do with Bryant trying to humble Randle as he became a promising prospect during his lone season last year at Kentucky. Or trying to test his toughness. Or Bryant trying to demonstrate his basketball superiority. No, Randle recalled as a middle school student last decade trying to get Bryant’s attention as the young Lakers fan sitting courtside tried to get his idol’s attention during pre-game warmups.

“I was on the sideline and I kept saying, ‘Kobe, Kobe,’” Randle said with a smile. “He wouldn’t turn around. He probably got annoyed with me and he wagged his finger and started back shooting.”

The circumstances have since changed.

After posted a league-leading 24 double doubles with Kentucky, Randle would become teammates with his long-time idol should the Lakers select the Wildcats standout with their seventh overall draft pick. Randle sounded more excited about trying to meet Bryant’s demanding expectations than gushing about teaming up with a player that made him a life-long Lakers fan.

“It would be amazing. I heard Kobe is tough on rookies. But I don’t care,” Randle said Tuesday after working out at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “Just to be in a program like this and an organization like this with great owners and great front office and the City of Los Angeles that expects nothing but championships, what more could I ask for? I’m a little prepared for it because coming from Kentucky, you lose a game, they go crazy. I’m a little prepared for it.”
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NBA Draft: Julius Randle stressed his right foot is fine

As he went through an individual workout with the Lakers, Julius Randle had to handle questions that went beyond anything a skills test or a series of drills could measure.

Does his right foot feel fully healthy?

“Did it look it?” Randle asked, rhetorically after showing off his accuracy in a series of shooting drills in front of reporters. “There you go.”

Yet, multiple Yahoo and ESPN reports indicated that several NBA teams were concerned with Randle’s right foot and suspected that it would need surgery. That concern stemmed from Randle breaking his right foot in the second game of his senior season at Prestonwood Christian Academy in Texas. A screw was inserted into the foot.

Randle maintained that he both will not need to have surgery. He plans to play in the Las Vegas Summer League, scheduled from July 11-21. Randle also believes unspecified NBA teams leaked their concerns about his foot in hopes that his draft stock would drop so he would become available. That might benefit the Lakers, who have the seventh overall pick for the NBA Draft on June 26.

“I met with the best foot doctor in the country and he said he wouldn’t do anything with my foot,” Randle said. “There’s no scheduled surgery or anything. I feel healthy, athletic and am moving great. No problems recovering. I’m ready to go.”
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NBA Draft: Director of NBA Scouting Operations analyzes prospects

Lakers pre-draft workout at Toyota Sports Center Wednesday June 4, 2014.       Photo By  Robert Casillas / Daily Breeze

Lakers pre-draft workout at Toyota Sports Center Wednesday June 4, 2014. Photo By Robert Casillas / Daily Breeze

Below is part of a recent conversation I had with Ryan Blake, the Director of NBA Scouting Operations, on the upcoming 2014 NBA Draft.

How would you analyze this upcoming draft?


Blake:
“We have a deep draft, 60 players that could actually make a roster or more. In the lottery, we have a lot of good players. If we look toward the top, there’s going to be [Andrew] Wiggins, there’s going to be [Jabari] Parker. But I still don’t know about Joel Embiid and his back situation. That’s a huge red flag. Because of that we don’t know where anybody is going to be picked. If you’re going down 1-7, it’s anybody’s guess.”

So with the Lakers having the seventh pick, what do you think is their biggest need?


Blake:
“They need a point guard. Kendall Marshall did pretty well. He’s still going to develop, but he’s not going to be your game changer. Is Dante Exum going to be that guy that’s going to change it? We haven’t seen him in play. He hasn’t played against men and he will have to tell veterans what to do. He has a lot of talent and will get individual workouts. They’ll be able to see him and get a good gauge.

But they could go for someone like Noah Vonleh, who is a Chris Bosh type of forward that can shoot it from the outside and go inside. He has developed at a high professional rate this year. It really depends. The Lakers are in a good situation in a way where there is going to be some mistakes or some players that may not be there. Paul Pierce went to 10th in Boston and they didn’t have him work out. They thought there is no way he is going to be here and he shows up there. If they like Marcus Smart, he’s going to be able to play two positions. He can be that two-guard that can really make players better. He’s a good defender. That could fall in line and help out.

Kobe Bryant is aging and under contract for two years. So they need some perimeter scoring, whether Kobe comes back healthy or not. Could an Aaron Gordon fit that type? They’ve seen him quite a bit. He can be your swing player and he has great athleticism. It’s one of those drafts where I’ve been trying to study and the players and they’re all really good. The beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it’s just tough to pin down. I’ve labeled this a BPA – take the best player available in the draft. But there’s so many spots the Lakers can fill that they don’t necessarily have to look out for the knockout punch or homerun.”

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NBA Draft: James Young predicted John Calipari would stay with Kentucky

Lakers pre-draft workout at Toyota Sports Center Wednesday June 4, 2014. James Young, Kentucky.      Photo By  Robert Casillas / Daily Breeze

Lakers pre-draft workout at Toyota Sports Center Wednesday June 4, 2014. James Young, Kentucky. Photo By Robert Casillas / Daily Breeze

The most important game of his life would soon begin.

With that, Kentucky freshman guard James Young attempted to block out all the noise surrounding him so he could properly focus for the Wildcats’ national championship game against Connecticut. Easier said than done perhaps considering famed Kentucky alum Rex Chapman tweeted that Wildcats coach John Calipari will soon coach the Lakers.

But well before Calipari and Kentucky agreed to a seven-year, $52.5 million contract extension on Thursday, Young sounded highly skeptical Calipari would leave Big Blue Nation for any program, even the Lakers.

“I feel like he would stay there,” Young said after his pre-draft workout with the Lakers on Wednesday. “He’s doing great there, doing great things for the program.”

Indeed he has.

Calipari just completed up his fifth season at Kentucky, where he also won a national title in 2012 and guided the program. He has also embraced the NBA’s so-called “one and done rule” that allows college basketball players to play professional after one season, bringing in heralded recruiting classes with the intention to prepare them quickly for the NBA.

Still, wouldn’t such news that Calipari would leave disturb his players before playing a national championship game they eventually lost?

“We tried not to pay attention to it much and focus on the game,” Young said. “He didn’t say anything about it.”

RELATED:

NBA Draft, Aaron Gordon, Noah Vonleh could fulfill several of Lakers’ needs

NBA Draft: Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak calls coaching search “ongoing,” confident about draft

NBA Draft: UCLA’s Zach LaVine sets Lakers pre-draft workout record with 46-inch vertical jump


Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart to work out with Lakers, eager to show his maturity

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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NBA Draft: Prospects like how Lakers constructed workouts

Lakers pre-draft workout at Toyota Sports Center Wednesday June 4, 2014. Aaron Gordon, Univ of Arizona, left, and Doug McDermott, Creighton, talk after workout       Photo By  Robert Casillas / Daily Breeze

Lakers pre-draft workout at Toyota Sports Center Wednesday June 4, 2014. Aaron Gordon, Univ of Arizona, left, and Doug McDermott, Creighton, talk after workout Photo By Robert Casillas / Daily Breeze

The cuts and bruises emerging all over Aaron Gordon’s arms told the entire story.

They symbolized the competitiveness surrounding the NBA pre-draft workouts the Lakers hosted Wednesday at their practice facility in El Segundo. The physically battered images revealed how the 12 prospects that worked out believed they had something to prove amid a backdrop that entailed Lakers championship banners and retired jerseys greeting them on the practice facility’s walls. The individual matchups brought out qualities that could not be measured through vertical jumps, bench presses or interviews.

Once it was all over, all of the prospects were left smiling that the Lakers’ pre-draft workout set them up for potential bragging rights. For Gordon, he admired his dinged up arms after going head-to-head against Creighton senior Doug McDermott.

“A little scratches here or there,” Gordon said. “That was a really good player. He was the leading scorer in college for a reason. He knows how to score the basketball.”

Yet, even if McDermott averaged a league-leading 26.7 points on 52.6 percent shooting, he remained highly aware of the knocks on his game surrounding his athleticism. So with Gordon considered one of the country’s best defensive forwards, McDermott found value in proving he could score with relatively similar frequency as he would in Pop-A-Shot.

“He got a little blood,” McDermott said about Gordon with a smile. “It was a good matchup. He’s good player and phenomenal athlete. It was a tough matchup for me, but I think he’ll be a heck of a pro. I think it helped both of us out. He hasn’t gone up against a guy that shoots like me and I haven’t gone up against anyone that is as good and strong as him. I think it was a really good first day for both of us.”
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