After losing to the Memphis Grizzlies, the Lakers have dropped to 19-39 on the year. The Lakers are guaranteed to have their first losing season since the 2004-05 season, when they finished 34-48. This year’s squad is almost certain to break that mark of futility and if they lose out, they would tie the franchise record-low for wins in a season. The Lakers haven’t made a first round pick since 2009 and do not own the next season’s first round pick (part of the Steve Nash deal).
Fortunately for the Lakers, they find themselves with a 1st round draft pick in one of the most loaded lottery classes in recent memory. All is not lost, and as it currently stands the Lakers would draft in the 4th position (ignoring the lottery). While that may mean Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, and Joel Embiid are out of reach, one prospect who doesn’t play college basketball seems smitten with the team.
Exum is an 18-year old from Australia who has limited time playing against American competition. One of the few times he has played against elite American talent, Exum more than held his own. He scored 16 points with 3 rebounds and 2 assists during the 2013 Nike Hoops Summit, where he helped lead the World Team to a victory over the USA.
Exum has come out and said he is interested in talking with Kobe Bryant about what it is like to enter the NBA straight from high school. Exum also has signed with Kobe’s agent, Rob Pelinka. Not only this, but Exum was recently seen at a Lakers game with his agent.
According to a recent SportingNews report, at least one rival league executive is worried that Exum might try and force his way on to the Lakers.
“When you hear some of what he says, it does make you wonder how the process is going to go as far as workouts and that sort of thing,” one general manager told Sporting News. “We have seen this story before, of course. I am not sure a player can have that kind of control, though.”
It should make Lakers fans happy that a young potential star like Exum seems enamored with the Lakers, but lets be real. If the Lakers wanted Dante Exum in this draft, they have a 99% chance of getting him. The way this Lakers team is playing, they are all but guaranteed a top-5 pick in this draft. Even at number 5, it wouldn’t be shocking or surprising to see Exum still on the board. Now would it be fair for Exum to only work out for the Lakers and spurn every other team? Probably not, but that doesn’t stop it from happening all the time. Players are frequently approached and “promised” to be picked by a team if they stop working out for other squads. Business as usual.
This information would likely be more of a story in any other year. But with such a high draft pick, Exum doesn’t need to do anything for the Lakers to draft him. They’ve done all the work for him.