While the Los Angeles Lakers look to climb the Western Conference ladder teams in the NCAA Tournament for fighting for their lives. The first two rounds of the tournament have officially concluded with Sweet 16 action slated to begin on Thursday.
Rob Pelinka and the front office are mostly concerned with what is going on with the team right now but they also should have an eye on the NCAA Tournament. This is a setting that can really raise a player’s draft stock and could result in them coming to Los Angeles for all we know.
There is a lot more games left to play in the NCAA Tournament and there might be a new standout player that Lakers fans fall in love with. After two rounds, there are some exciting options that already stand out.
3 players from NCAA Tournament that now might be on Lakers’ draft radar:
1. Cason Wallace, G, Kentucky
The only player on this list that did not make it to the Sweet 16, Cason Wallace is a bonafide lottery prospect that the Lakers could draft depending on how they and the New Orleans Pelicans finish out the season.
Wallace has been mocked to the Lakers in the past but his showing in the NCAA Tournament (albeit in defeat) might end up with him going before LA is even on the clock.
In Kentucky’s second-round loss to Kansas State, Wallace scored 21 points with nine rebounds and four assists all while playing his patented great defense on the other end. Wallace was extremely efficient in the game, making nine of his 11 attempts and making his one three attempted
2. Julian Strawther, G, Gonzaga
Another guard that stood out in the first two rounds is Julian Strawther, who now has a massive Sweet 16 game against the hometown UCLA Bruins. Gonzaga’s two-guard has been great in the first two rounds and was particularly special in the first round against GCU.
In that first-round game, Strawther scored 28 points on nine of 15 shooting while making three of his six three-point shots attempted. Along with his 28 points, Strawther also added 10 boards, two blocks and a steal.
Strawther is expected to go outside of the lottery but if he continues to play at a high level and Gonzaga makes a run then we could see that draft stock go up. He is an intriguing prospect for the Lakers as he has three years of college experience, meaning he will likely be more NBA-ready than a college freshman would be.
3. Keyontae Johnson, F, Kansas State
Keyontae Johnson is a potential second-round prospect for the Lakers as most big boards have him in the 40s. That being said, if he continues his strong showing in the NCAA Tournament then he could find himself becoming a first-round pick.
If not, Johnson is an intriguing option for the Lakers to consider for multiple reasons. He has five years of college experience so he is more than ready to be an NBA rotation guy. His 40.5% three-point rate is extremely intriguing for the Lake Show as well.
Johnson has scored 31 combined points in Kansas State’s two wins and that is without the luxury of his three-point shot falling. Kansas State could go on a run here and Johnson’s draft stock could rise as a result.