The Los Angeles Lakers have really turned a corner since the NBA trade deadline. The team was able to not only get off of Russell Westbrook’s contract for a tremendous price, but they were able to get younger and more talented as well.
Perhaps the most popular of the new additions is forward Jarred Vanderbilt. While his box-score numbers do not jump off the page, Vanderbilt plays the style of basketball that is so easy to love. He is a fantastic defender with high energy that makes a noticeable difference on the court.
The Lakers should be looking to add more players like Vanderbilt as they build the roster out in the future and they might be able to do that in the 2023 NBA Draft. In fact, a recent mock draft has the Lakers taking someone who has been comped to Vanderbilt, but with better shooting.
The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor recently updated his 2023 NBA mock draft and with the 13th pick in the mock draft, O’Connor has UCF’s Taylor Hendricks coming to LA.
"“Hendricks is one of the best defenders in this draft, and he’d give the Lakers another player who can lock opponents down and provide scheme versatility like Jarred Vanderbilt. But Hendricks is a far better shooter. There are few prospects with more NBA-ready skills, which is why he ranks in the top 10 on my Big Board. It wouldn’t be surprising if he continues to move up before June’s draft.”"
Well, that is a ringing (pun intended) endorsement if I have ever heard one.
NBA mock draft: Taylor Hendricks would be a really exciting addition to the Lakers.
There are two routes the Los Angeles Lakers could go if they end up in the late lottery. The team can try and take a prospect that is on the older side with more experience. These prospects do not have as high of a ceiling (typically) but are usually more NBA-ready. Think Josh Hart, for example.
Or the team could go this route, taking a freshman that might have a higher ceiling and be a work in progress. If LA is going to go that route in the late lottery then there probably is not a better option than Taylor Hendricks.
Hendricks is everything that a team wants, especially out of a rotation guy in the playoffs. He may not be able to be that guy right away at 20 years old but the potential of him developing into a solid role player is really exciting.
His defense and switchability alone are going to get him places in this league and if he can continue to develop his offensive game then he can be a legit two-way threat. At the very least, Hendricks can be a three-and-D role player that lives as an off-ball shooter.
If the Lakers could get someone with Vanderbilt’s defensive ability that can also shoot the basketball then it would be dangerous. The one knock on Vanderbilt’s game is his inability to space the floor offensively. If you were to magically add that to Vanderbilt’s game right now he would literally be the perfect playoff role player.
It is going to take a lot of work and is not a guarantee but Hendricks could be just that.