If there is one thing that the Los Angeles Lakers had more than enough of this season it is undersized guards. Prior to making moves at the trade deadline, the Lakers actually had a roster that consisted of Russell Westbrook, Patrick Beverley, Kendrick Nunn, Austin Reaves and Dennis Schroder. That is five point guards on one roster.
That has obviously been shuffled around since the deadline and will continue to be shuffled after the 2022-23 NBA season. Hopefully, Rob Pelinka and the front office learn from their mistakes and don’t add even more point guards (especially if they plan on re-signing D’Angelo Russell).
That does not seem to be the case in the latest 2023 NBA Mock draft done by Yahoo Sports’ own Krysten Peek. Peek put together her sixth edition of a 2023 mock draft and with the 13th overall pick, she has the Lakers taking another six-four guard.
Lakers draft Cason Wallace in this 2023 NBA mock draft.
Kentucky’s Cason Wallace is a combo guard who at the NBA level could fit into a three-and-D type of role. While he is a point guard and can help facilitate, Wallace is not someone who is going to run an offense and be a team’s primary playmaker at the next level. At least not right away.
Instead, Wallace could be a better version of Avery Bradley — a small combo guard who can play either the one or the two, can defend, can give a team 10-15 points a night and is not someone who demands the basketball in his hands.
Bates is more athletic than Bradley and has shown more of an ability to create his own shot and finish at the rim. That tenacity on the defensive end is very similar, though, especially compared to Bradley’s days in Boston.
On paper that is a great addition for the Lakers as they could use a guard that can defend, hit shots and is open to playing off-ball next to LeBron James. That being said, Wallace is just a freshman and it is going to take time for him to develop in the NBA. By the time he becomes this version, LeBron will be long gone (likely playing alongside Bronny James).
With title aspirations next season, Los Angeles may opt to select an older prospect (like Kyle Kuzma back in 2017) that can have a bigger role in the rotation right away.
Lakers draft Emoni Bates with the 40th pick in this 2023 NBA mock draft.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles adds more wing depth in the second round of this 2023 NBA mock draft. Emoni Bates is also a freshman and may not contribute in the league right away but there are some exciting traits in his game for a second-round prospect.
Bates has the size and length to really succeed on both ends of the floor as a two-way wing. He has shown a scoring presence for Eastern Michigan this season as he has averaged 19.7 points per game.
His three-point shot has not been hitting as often as he would like (33.9%) but he is also taking 7.7 threes per game. Bates has a smooth stroke so he could figure it out.
Perhaps the biggest problem with Bates is his tendency to play hero ball for Eastern Michigan. That obviously is not going to fly at the NBA level, especially as a second-round pick. Whether or not he can have a tangible NBA career depends on his willingness to buy in as a role player.