NBA Draft: Lakers host Cameron Payne for individual workout

Only two hours earlier, the Lakers worked out a prized prospect that might pave the way for a once storied franchise to return to prosperity.

Later on Tuesday afternoon, the Lakers worked out a player that might not even become available in the NBA Draft.

Duke freshman center Jahlil Okafor intrigued the Lakers as a possible No. 2 pick with his size, post play and eagerness to wear purple and gold. Murray State sophomore guard Cameron Payne intrigued the Lakers as a possible prospect should they somehow climb up in the NBA draft after their No. 2 pick and before their 27th and 34th selections.

So even if Payne’s odds of wearing a Lakers uniform appears slim, he hardly thought twice when his agent asked his interest in wearing one for a day.

“I definitely said yes,” Payne said on Tuesday after working out at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “The Lakers are one of the best franchises ever so I definitely said yes.”
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NBA Draft: Emmanuel Mudiay to work out with Philadelphia, Minnesota next week

NBA draft prospect Emmanuel Mudaiy, who played professionally in China last year, worked out for the Lakers Saturday. (Getty Images/File photo)

NBA draft prospect Emmanuel Mudaiy, who played professionally in China last year, worked out for the Lakers Saturday. (Getty Images/File photo)

Point guard Emmanuel Mudiay has finalized his itinerary next week that will include workouts both with the Philadelphia 76ers (June 16th) and Minnesota Timberwolves (June 19-20th), according to a league source familiar with his schedule.

Mudiay has already had extensive travel schedule in the past week. After working out with the Lakers last Saturday, Mudiay traveled to New York to work out with the Knicks on Tuesday. Mudiay will then return to Los Angeles for a private individual workout on Thursday.

Most NBA mock drafts list Mudiay in the top four, if not higher, after averaging 17.7 points on 54.5 percent shooting, 6.0 rebounds and 5.1 assists with the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association. NBA talent evaluators like Mudiay’s playmaking, speed, athleticism and defense. But questions persist on Mudiay’s shooting after going 37.4 percent from 3-point range and 57.4 percent from the foul line.

Mudiay argued his experience in China instead of playing at Southern Methodist University will help him transition into the NBA. Mudiay played against former NBA players, including Stephon Marbury and Michael Beasley. Mudiay also noted how the CBA offered a more physical style of play comparable to the NBA than the college game.

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NBA Draft: Jahlil Okafor says “I can definitely see myself here in LA”

NBA Draft: Emmanuel Mudiay believes experience in China will spur NBA success

NBA Draft: Emmanuel Mudiay to work out with the Lakers on Saturday

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: Jahlil Okafor says “I can definitely see myself here in LA”

Just as he finished a two-hour workout that showed off his post moves and even occasional range, Duke center Jahlil Okafor stood on the Lakers’ practice court and gazed at the retired jerseys that hang on their walls.

The uniforms that George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal once wore remain there, providing a visual reminder on how much the Lakers’ 16 NBA championships have centered around dominant big men. It sounded like the 19-year-old Okafor wanted to become the next one.

“I would love to be here and have the opportunity to learn from all those guys. That would definitely be to my advantage,” said Okafor, who listed O’Neal as his favorite player growing up. “Just how dominant they were. They were all about winning and when they came here they won. If I did that, I would have some big shoes to step in. But I’m ready.”

So much that Okafor all but provided an official endorsement that he would want to wear a purple and gold uniform so he can bring championship prosperity the same he did this past season with the Blue Devils.

“I can definitely see myself here in LA. Just the tradition. I’m coming from Duke University, we had the winningest coach in college basketball,” Okafor said, referring to Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski. “That entire atmosphere was about winning and that’s what the Lakers organization is about, that’s something I want to be a part of. I’ve always won. I’ve won state championships, national championship, gold medal, all that, so I would love to come in and have the opportunity to win an NBA championship.”

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NBA Draft: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson believes defense will be his calling card

The sequences played like a loop, defining the horror show of the Lakers’ 2014-15 season.

Scorers blew past the Lakers as if they drove on an open highway. They outran the Lakers in the open court, an event as lopsided as any that Usain Bolt wins. When opposing teams ran pick-and-rolls, Lakers usually scrambled on communication, rotations and stops before allowing yet another basket.

Tally all those up, and the Lakers finished 29th out of 30 NBA teams in total defense (105.3), defensive field-goal percentage (46.6) and 26th in fast-break points allowed (15.1). Safe to say the Lakers enter the NBA Draft on June 25 and free agency in July with plenty of needs, most notably acquiring personnel who could vastly improve those numbers.

Arizona sophomore forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson touted himself as one of those candidates, mindful that he made the Pac-12 All Defensive team after averaging 2.5 steals and 2 blocks per game.

“I see that as my playing card for now,” Hollis-Jefferson said Tuesday after working out with the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “But no one knows what God has in store for us. So may God keep blessing me.”
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Kobe Bryant to appear on Sina as guest analyst for Game 3 of NBA Finals

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) drives against New Orleans Pelicans guard Nate Wolters, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) drives against New Orleans Pelicans guard Nate Wolters, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)

Kobe Bryant made a surprising move, perhaps more unexpected than the Lakers’ star rarely passing up the chance to make a game-winning shot.

He will serve as a guest analyst for Sina during the Chinese online company’s pre-game and post-game coverage for Game 3 of the 2015 NBA Finals on Tuesday between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers.

Bryant has established numerous ventures in China. Yet, his latest business gig seems unexpected namely because he has said in recent years he has no interest in broadcasting. Still, Bryant has become more engaging and friendly with reporters in the past three years where he has offered a mix of unyielding honesty and humor.

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NBA Draft: Emmanuel Mudiay believes experience in China will spur NBA success

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: Aaron Harrison believes Kentucky experience will prepare him for NBA

Well before he might hear his name called at the NBA draft, Andrew Harrison believes he already experienced what the NBA will entail.

That took place at the University of Kentucky, where Harrison saw teammates come and go in what has soon become the “one-and-done era.” This year alone, Harrison represents one of seven players on the Wildcats that declared themselves eligible for the NBA draft. That resulted in the University of Kentucky boasting a star-studded team needing to iron out roles in front of a demanding media and fanbase.

“We’re really prepared for the media. We get a lot of attention,” Harrison said Tuesday after working out at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “Of course, we had to sacrifice last year. From the NBA, we’re coming down from the bottom. You’re at the bottom of the list and coming on the team. You have to fight for every minute. It’s not going to be easy.”
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NBA Draft: D’Angelo Russell trying to model game after Stephen Curry

As he hopes to enter the NBA and establish greatness, Ohio State guard D’Angelo Russell has set his eyes on something that may help him see better when he runs a pick-and-roll or when he takes an open jump shot.

Russell has studied Golden State Warriors guard, Stephen Curry, the reasons digging deeper than his regular-season MVP resume or earning platitudes as the NBA’s best shooter ever. Only six years ago, Golden State selected Curry with the seventh overall pick, the former Davidson sharpshooter still facing skepticism about his size and whether he could offer something besides a dependable jumper.

“He didn’t come into the league the way he is playing now,” Russell said on Tuesday after working out with the Lakers at their practice facility in El Segundo. “He took some time and the player he developed to be, I see a great resemblance. His ball handling is off the charts. His shot selection is similar to mine. But his work ethic to get him to where he’s at is similar to mine.”

It might seem weird for Russell to feel like an underdog.

Most NBA mock drafts consider Russell and Emmanuel Mudiay as the league’s top point guards and should land within the top four. Russell averaged 19.3 points and five assists as the Big 10 Freshman of the Year. Mudiay also plans to work out at somepoint this week with the New York Knicks.

Yet, Russell still maintains he feels like an underdog since he did not attend an elite basketball school and was not listed as a top-10 recruit.

“I honestly love it,” Russell said. “People don’t really pay much attention to me. I thrive with it. That gives me an edge. I know where I came from and the hard work I put in and the confidence that my work ethic that I put in. It gives me an edge on the court.”

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NBA Draft: Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell to work out with Lakers on Monday

D’Angelo Russell

D’Angelo Russell

Well before the Lakers plan to watch Ohio State point guard D’Angelo Russell in an individual workout on Monday afternoon, the organization expressed interest in another way.

The Lakers took Russell out to dinner. The team’s Twitter account posted a photo of the 6-foot-5, 180-pound freshman along with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and assistant general manager Glen Carraro. The rest of the Lakers’ basketball operations staff were there, including Jesse Buss (director of scouting), Ryan West (assistant director of scouting), Jordan Wilkes (basketball operations assistant), Rondre Jackson (director of player development) and Kevin Grevey (college scout).

The Lakers also provided the same treatment to Emmanuel Mudiay, who dined with the team’s basketball operations staff on Friday night before completing an individual workout on Saturday morning.

NBA mock drafts pin Mudiay and Russell as the best point guards in this year’s class and are competing for the top spots against big men Kentucky’s Karl Anthony-Towns and Duke’s Jahlil Okafor. While Russell averaged 19.3 points on 44.9 percent shooting and five assists with the Buckeyes, Mudiay posted 17.7 points on 54.5-percent shooting, 6.0 rebounds and 5.1 assists with the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association.

Most NBA talent evaluators consider Russell a more polished shooter, while Mudiay is considered superior with his quickness and athleticism.

The Lakers will also host workouts on Monday morning for six prospects slated for their 27th and 34th draft picks.

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NBA Draft: Emmanuel Mudiay believes experience in China will spur NBA success

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NBA Finals: Mychal Thompson predicts son, Klay, will win title

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: Emmanuel Mudiay believes experience in China will spur NBA success

Moments after he released the ball off his hands, Emmanuel Mudiay would hear one or two things.

The Lakers coaching staff sang Mudiay’s praises as he sank countless jumpers. When those shots clanked off the rim, the Lakers’ assistants ranging from Mark Madsen, Paul Pressey, Larry Lewis and Thomas Scott provided positive reinforcement.

Amid all the buzz surrounding Mudiay’s first NBA pre-draft workout on Saturday at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo, the possible No. 2 prospect tried addressing the main concern talent evaluators see in his outside shooting. But even if he shot only 37.4 percent from 3-point range and 57.4 percent from the foul line last year with the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), Mudiay believed that experience alone will accelerate his NBA development.

“The physicality over there was ridiculous,” said Mudiay, who noted he played against former NBA players, such as Michael Beasley and Stephon Marbury. “My maturity level improved in learning how to come into the game as a professional. It was a professional league so I had a good idea of what the system is.”

Mudiay also touted how he played under NBA rules, such as a 24-foot-second shot clock. But his decision to play overseas instead of keeping his commitment at Southern Methodist University went beyond X’s and O’s. He experienced an adversarial upbringing that entailed losing his father at a young age and his mother, Therese, taking her three sons to the United States in 2001 after seeking asylum following political tension in his native Democratic Republic of Congo.

“It was for my mother. She was struggling at the time. So I wanted to help her immediately financially,” Mudiay said. “After that, it played a big factor that I was going to be playing against older men and more physical men. I was going to go to college for seven or eight months. So why not play professionally with grown men and they can teach me a lot and be more comfortable with the professional stuff.”
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NBA Draft: Emmanuel Mudiay to work out with Lakers on Saturday

Emmanuel Mudiay (#0) goes up for a shot between (L-R) Myles Turner (#35), Tyus Jones (#21) and Cliff Alexander (#11) during 2014 McDonald's All American Game. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Emmanuel Mudiay (#0) goes up for a shot between (L-R) Myles Turner (#35), Tyus Jones (#21) and Cliff Alexander (#11) during 2014 McDonald’s All American Game. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The Lakers took a significant turn with their pre-draft workouts.

After spending the past two weeks evaluating 44 prospects slated to land either late in the first round or second round, the Lakers will temporarily shift their focus elsewhere. Emmanuel Mudiay will work out with the Lakers on Saturday at their practice facility in El Segundo, one of a few prospects the Lakers would consider with their No. 2 pick.

Mudiay skipped his freshman season at Southern Methodist and played professionally in China, averaging 17.7 points on 54.5 percent shooting, six rebounds and 5.1 assists with the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA). Plenty of NBA talent evaluators have gushed about his maturity, quickness, ball handling and playmaking. But he is also considered an unknown because of the lack of game film and opportunities to see him play in person. Mudiay also shot only 37.4 percent from 3-point range and 57.4 percent from the foul line, while playing in only 10 games before nursing a right ankle injury.
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