Less than a week away from the NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers welcomed a selection of top prospects for a morning workout session in El Segundo.
Aaron Gordon and Marcus Smart were two standout prospects when the Lakers held their largest workouts sessions two weeks earlier. Elfrid Payton was also a member of those workouts, and the trio of talents was back breaking sweats for Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak on Friday morning
Along with those three, the Lakers welcomed Nik Stauskas out of the University of Michigan and P.J. Hairston, who played for the D-League’s Texas Legends. Stauskas was previously expected to work out during the Lakers’ early workout session a fortnight earlier, but the 20-year-old dropped out at the last moment. On Friday, Stauskas revealed that suffered a minor tweak in his shoulder, so he opted to wait until he was back to 100 percent before going through workouts.
Hairston, on the other hand, arrived at the Lakers’ practice court on a path less travelled--more accurately, never travelled. Ruled ineligible due to two arrests for driving incidents, Hairston left North Carolina after starting his junior year and joined the NBA Development League’s Texas Legends. By doing so, Hairston made history and became the first player to start a season in college basketball and play as a professional in the NBA D-League before entering the NBA Draft.
“I think the D-League made up for that,” Hairston said referring to his previous issues with the NCAA. “It worked out for me, even though it wasn’t by choice.”
With the favorite to go first, Joel Embiid, set to undergo surgery on his injured foot, most draft experts expected Embiid to drop down in the draft. Suddenly, the Lakers find themselves in the shuffle to land the center out of Kansas, and considering they did not hesitate on taking Ryan Kelly with a broken foot a season ago, the Lakers would be favorites to take Embiid despite the injury if he is available at that point.
However, most experts anticipate the Boston Celtics will draft Embiid at no. 6 if he is even available at that point.
For the Lakers, Gordon, Smart and Julius Randle appeared to be the more likely selections, but Payton’s return to the Lakers’ facility kept him in the mix. Randle worked out for the team in a solo session earlier in the week, and by most accounts, the power forward out of Kentucky impressed during his session, which featured Kupchak and Lakers co-owner Jim Buss watching on the sidelines.
With workouts wrapped up and the draft less than a week away, the Lakers should have a good idea of they will take, but don’t expect Kupchak to share his thoughts before draft day, June 26.