The Los Angeles Lakers did not have a pick in the 2020 NBA Draft but still brought in new talent.
The Los Angeles Lakers traded away the 28th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft alongside Danny Green to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Dennis Schroder. The team’s second-round pick belonged to the Orlando Magic as it was traded to Orlando for Talen Horton-Tucker last year.
The Lakers did not trade into the draft but did walk away from the night with new talent. Rob Pelinka signed undrafted free-agent point guard Zavier Simpson from Michigan. Pelinka attended and played basketball at Michigan and drafted Moritz Wagner from Michigan in 2018.
Simpson has four years of college experience so there is more potential that he could make an impact right away. However, I would be highly skeptical in expecting him to be anything more than emergency point guard depth.
Simpson is a tad undersized at 6’0″ and has the traits to be a traditional playmaking point guard, albeit he needs to be more dynamic and become a more consistent shooter to carve out any sort of role in the rotation now or in the future.
This is a low-risk signing for the Lakers and is one that we should not be overexcited about. However, if the Lakers would have signed a different undrafted free agent then there would have been a lot of excitement here at Lake Show Life.
The Los Angeles Lakers should have instead signed Killian Tillie
The Los Angeles Lakers could have signed both Tillie and Simpson, but instead, Tillie signed a two-way deal with the Memphis Grizzlies. If the Lakers would have prioritized Tillie then he likely would have been a Laker — it would be shocking if he chose Memphis over Los Angeles.
Tillie has four years of college experience at Gonzaga and fits the modern NBA perfectly. He is not the best defender, but neither is Simpson, but he does fit the mold of being a bonafide stretch five.
He will have to put on some size and strength to be able to bang down low with larger NBA centers. Most importantly, Tillie was one of the best shooting big men in the entire draft, which would have added a new dynamic currently not present on the Los Angeles Lakers.
Tillie shot 40% from beyond the arc last season and shot 44.4% from three in his career on 2.2 attempts per game. Because of his four years in college, he instantly could have been a backend rotation piece that played 8-10 minutes a game in his rookie year.
Of course, that is assuming that Tillie blossoms into what his potential makes possible and he probably would have also signed a two-way deal with the Lakers, developing his game with the South Bay Lakers. As we have seen before, though, the Lakers are excellent in developing G League players into contributors — look at Alex Caruso.
Tillie is not as much of a playmaker as Kyle Kuzma but he absolutely could have been a security blanket for when Kuzma eventually leaves the Lakers, whether it be via trade or in free agency after the 2020-21 season.
Heck, the only reason that Tillie went undrafted is his injury history. He had the talent to be a late first-round pick. Legitimately. That is worth taking a risk on.
Simpson, on the other hand, is someone who can easily be lost in the shuffle and is already below THT on the pecking order.