Lakers' troubling draft mistake somehow just got even worse

Celebrities At The Los Angeles Lakers Game
Celebrities At The Los Angeles Lakers Game / Allen Berezovsky/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Lakers went five years between first-round picks and finally got a chance to add a first-round prospect in the 2023 NBA Draft. It was great timing for the Lakers as well as there were quite a few quality prospects available later in the first round in what was a deep draft class.

Los Angeles ultimately drafted Jalen Hood-Schifino even though the team's scouts reportedly favored Cam Whitmore. Rob Pelinka reportedly overruled his scouts and made the final call to take JHS because of how he played in the Big 10 Tournament.

The 20-year-old guard has predictably not had any kind of impact on the Lakers this season, hence why many fans thought the team was going to take an older prospect. If not an older prospect, the Lakers would have been better off at least taking a prospect with a higher ceiling like Whitmore.

But the concerns around Whitmore's health were ultimately too concerning for Pelinka to pull the trigger. Even though the same concerns did not exist around Hood-Schifno, the young guard still did not get through his entire rookie year without a somewhat significant injury, as he will miss the rest of the 2023-24 season (not that he would have played anyway).

Jalen Hood-Schifino draft picks gets even worse for Lakers

This is not the first injury that Hood-Schifino has dealt with this season as his NBA debut was also delayed because of injury. JHS was not available to play until late November because of a knee injury that he suffered during the preseason.

Thus, Hood-Schifino's healthy window for his rookie season lasted approximately four months. While this back procedure shouldn't be a long-term issue and he should be ready for the 2024-25 season, it is just a painful reminder of what could have been.

The only reason Whitmore, who was projected to be taken early in the lottery, fell as far as he did in the draft was because of his health concerns. If there were no health concerns then he would have gone many picks above JHS in the draft.

Los Angeles passed on taking the prospect with the better ceiling because of these perceived health risks. Yet through the first season, Hood-Schifino is the one who has dealt with more injuries. Whitmore has also missed time but not as much as Hood-Schifino. Plus, he is a much more polished prospect who has a higher ceiling.

There is still time for Hood-Schifino to right the ship and prove the Lakers right but at this point in time that draft selection looks like a massive whiff.