5 Upside picks the Lakers should take a chance on at No. 17 in 2024 NBA Draft

The Los Angeles Lakers have the No. 17 overall selection in the 2024 NBA draft. Finding a player with short-term value makes sense, but there are long-term projects with upside to consider.
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Ja'Kobe Walter, SG, Baylor Bears

Yes, drafting a shooting guard with, "Kobe," in their name is certain to create unrealistic expectations among Los Angeles Lakers fans. And yes, Walter is a projected lottery pick who could be off the board by the time No. 17 rolls around.

The Lakers are close enough to the lottery that Walter could fall into their laps, however, and he would be a promising player worth taking a chance on.

Walter struggled with efficiency as a freshman, shooting 37.6 percent from the field and 34.1 percent from beyond the arc. He knocked down 79.2 percent of his free throws, however, which is a consistently strong indicator of a player's capabilities as a shooter.

He also balanced low points of his season, such as the three points he scored in the Big 12 Tournament semifinal, with high points, including the 20 he scored in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

For a 19-year-old prospect who projects as a three-level scorer at his ceiling, Walter should be commended for his fearless approach. He relished the opportunity to play against high-caliber opponents, scoring 28 points against Auburn, 23 against Houston, and 17 against Kansas.

Clearly in favor of the three-point shot, Walter stands at 6'4.25" and 198 pounds with a 6'10" wingspan and all of the raw the ability to become one of the best players to emerge from his class.

That rings true on both ends of the floor.