The Lakers held pre-draft workouts on Wednesday. There were two sessions, morning and afternoon. The two groups consisted of players that will possibly be drafted from 5-16. The players were judged on post moves, ball handling, shooting. They were measured and evaluated by the medical staff. They played 2 on 2 and 3 on 3. Afterwards, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak admitted he was impressed with the athleticism of several of the players. He also noted some of the players were lacking skills that would prevent them from playing anything more than limited minutes in their rookie year. But Kupchak cast a high ceiling on their development. Afterwards the players commented on the experience.
Zach LaVine: “It’s a lot of fun going through the process. Me, being a Lakers fan since I was younger and just having the experience to come here, it was a lot of fun for me. Taking it all in, looking at the sights, looking at the Kobe and Shaq pictures, I’m having fun. Everyone (NBA veterans) is going to be as fast, as strong as you, as quick, and can shoot as good as you. People really aint seen me play point guard position that much or handle the ball. They know I can score and jump and run. I feel like it was a good point in my career to make that jump. I’m a confident person, I’m open to challenges, I feel like I’m ready for this step. ”
Marcus Smart: “I was excited out the gate. They got the trophies up there, that’s always a good thing to see. I have three older brothers, I’m the youngest. They all wore the number 3. My oldest brother started it. In college I wasn’t able to wear #3 because #3 got retired. I picked #33 because it was the age he (my brother) passed away. Either #33 or #3 is the number that I’d prefer to have just because of my brother. Everybody think that ‘cause of that incident (pushing a fan) that I’m a bad guy or a thug. My character is one of the best characters you can have. It won’t change, it’s not going to change. That little incident didn’t affect how I am as a person. I’m still out here improving even more. My shots have improved more then what you expected. I hate to lose, just like he (Kobe) does. Everybody knows that Kobe Bryant is one of the more fierce competitors to ever play the game. So being able to play alongside of him and learn from him and take what he teaches is an honor in itself. Words can’t even explain that for me.”
Aaron Gordon: “Kobe’s psychotic about basketball and I am too. Kobe is the definition of a true pro. I would pick his brain until he said: little kid go away. ” On what position he’d play? “Forward as of right now and then develop into a point forward.”
Noah Vonleh: “The Lakers were one of my favorite teams growing up, watching Kobe Bryant and Shaq. When I think of the Lakers I think of a championship program. They didn’t have a good season last year… It was a pretty good workout. We did ball handling. We did post moves. Moves off the dribble into finishes. We played two on two, three on three. We ended the workout with 60 shots, mid range, three pointers, one dribble pull ups. I’m trying to show my versatility. To show I can take guys off the dribble and finish above the rim, work out the post with a smaller guy on me, that I can rebound. It was a good opportunity. I knew when I got into the workouts I could show my versatility. I can cover different positions. I talk a lot on the court. My communication will help wherever I go. Besides myself Tyler Ennis, Marcus Smart, Gary Harris impressed.”
Tyler Ennis: “It’s a great feeling to see these retired jerseys on the wall and know the history. To be able to come and work out here with such a great group is something I will remember forever. We all came out here and showed what we can do. Whoever ends up here is going to be lucky to be with a group of veterans to help them progress. For a young player to see how hard he (Kobe) works that would help anybody regardless of position. Work ethic is contagious. Having him and Steve Nash and the older guys I think you have no reason not to be better. ” He was paired against Marcus Smart. “That’s definitely a way to show competitiveness.”
Gary Harris: “I feel like I have everything to offer. You need me to make shots, handle the ball a little bit, play defense. I’m willing to do whatever the coach needs me to do to get the job done. My will to compete on both ends of the court, I’m going to give my all no matter what.” When asked about the Lakers he said, “You just see the history. All the jerseys are in here, the world champions, the trophies up there. It’s the Lakers organization which just speaks for itself.”
James Young: “Everybody was going hard, people were diving for loose balls being competitive and showing they want it.” What he would say to Kobe? “Take me under you wing. Show me the way.”