5 Players the Lakers should have drafted instead of Hood-Schifino

Brandin Podziemski and Trayce Jackson-Davis, Golden State Warriors
Brandin Podziemski and Trayce Jackson-Davis, Golden State Warriors / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages
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No. 4: Cam Whitmore, 20th pick

Heading into the final weeks before the 2023 NBA Draft, most draft analysts and prognosticators had Cam Whitmore as a Top-5 pick. The Villanova wing was one of the top recruits in his high school draft class and proved himself to be a dynamic scoring threat at the college level as a freshman.

Rumors started creeping out in the days before the draft, and then on draft night itself the unthinkable happened: Whitmore plummetted down draft boards; right past the Top 5, right past the Top 10, and right past the Los Angeles Lakers at 17. Whether because of attitude concerns (possible), injury issues (probable) or something else, Cam Whitmore dropped all the way to the Houston Rockets with the 20th pick.

Whitmore didn't waste any time proving a lot of teams wrong during his rookie season. He positively dominated the G League to the tune of 26 points per game and by midseason carved out a rotation role with the Rockets. He was better than advertised on defense, shot well from outside and scored at an impressive clip. Together, he and fellow rookie Amen Thompson invigorated the Rockets' bench unit and helped to spark their late-season run.

Whitmore's per-36 numbers speak to his prolific scoring ability: 23.7 points, 3.2 made 3-pointers and 7.4 rebounds for good measure. He has some real growth to show as a passer and team defender, but Whitmore played hard and was dynamic as a shot-maker. The Lakers could certainly use someone who can create shots off the bench, and Whitmore did it better as a rookie than Hood-Schifino is likely to do anytime in his career.