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Who could the Lakers take No. 4 in the NBA Draft?

Shortly before Tuesday night’s draft lottery, Rob Pelinka met with Jesse Buss and the rest of the Lakers scouting department to strategize for the NBA Combine. The discussion focused on pick No. 11, which the Lakers had a 77.6 percent chance to land, and which player might be in range to select.
So much for all that.
“Now it’s a shift: what we can get at four,” Pelinka said, less than an hour after the Lakers had defied the 2.8-percent odds to jump up in the draft. “I will say there are some incredibly talented impact players there that we are going to study deeply.”
The June 20 draft in Brooklyn will be headlined by New Orleans’ expected selection of Duke forward Zion Williamson. Two other heralded prospects – Murray State’s Ja Morant and Duke’s R.J. Barrett – are expected to be taken in the top three. Still, the Lakers will still be in position to select one of the draft’s most exciting talents – or flip their pick to someone who wants a shot at No. 4.
Even the seven spots that separate where the Lakers thought they would pick to where they will pick is significant to the team’s evaluation prospects.
The teens are often home to prospects who are working out and testing as they try to improve their draft position; top-four picks generally withhold information in the interest of not hurting their stock (two possible top-four picks, Darius Garland and De’Andre Hunter, have already pulled out of the NBA Combine this week).
Players such as Lamar Odom, Chris Paul, Chris Bosh, Russell Westbrook and Kristaps Porzingis have been selected fourth. On the less successful end, so have Tyrus Thomas, Wesley Johnson, Cody Zeller and Dragan Bender.
Based on available prospect evaluations – and obviously pending important information coming from this week’s combine in Chicago – here’s an early look at whom the Lakers could pick fourth overall should they choose to keep their selection:
6-foot-3 guard, Vanderbilt
Key stats: 16.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.6 apg, 47.6 3-point percentage
Garland will have some mystery surrounding him because he suffered a season-ending meniscus injury just five games into his college career and has reportedly already pulled out of the NBA Combine (welcome to the world of top-5 picks). But his available tape shows a crafty and confident playmaker who can hit shots from all over the court. That’s something the Lakers need, particularly if his 3-point shooting holds up at the NBA level. The team will need to evaluate if Garland can contribute early scoring without being ball-dominant – he’s not going to usurp LeBron James or Lonzo Ball as a primary ball-handler as a rookie.
6-foot-6 forward, Texas Tech
Key stats: 18.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 3.7 apg, 1.4 spg
In Texas Tech’s stunning run to the NCAA championship game, Culver was a do-it-all lynchpin. He might not be that kind of star in the next level, but his versatility and work ethic suggest a fit in almost any system and an asset to any defense. Culver’s playing style has a blue-collar toughness indicative of a player that’s had to prove himself, but he’s also comfortable being the pressure performer for his team if need be. His shooting percentages (last season: 46.1% field goal, 30.4% 3-pointers, 70.7% free throws) leave more to be desired, but he’s hit big ones in critical moments.
6-foot-7 forward, Virginia
Key stats: 15.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.0 apg, 48.3 3-point percentage
Anyone who watched the national championship will know this name: Hunter had arguably his best career game at the best possible moment with 27 points to push the Cavaliers to a title. He’s made his name as the best defender for Tony Bennett’s defense-first squad, with the versatility to guard multiple positions and the shooting to knock down long-range attempts. He might be more of a role player at the next level – a 3-and-D prospect as they say – but his skills suggest he can step in early and contribute.
6-foot-8 forward, Duke
Key stats: 13.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.9 apg, 1.6 spg
Of the three-headed monstrous recruiting class for Duke last year, Reddish was the least imposing. While he has the body and the occasional look of a future star, his production and his more reserved bearing on the court (at least compared to the all-out explosion of Williamson) was more deferential. There’s a lot of physical talent and even shooting polish in Reddish’s game, but the right team will need to maximize it over time – that might not exactly fit with the Lakers’ desire to win next season.
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6-foot-5 guard, North Carolina
Key stats: 16.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 4.1 apg, 35.2 3-point percentage
White’s speed and voluminous hair created the impression that the Tasmanian Devil was on the court for the Tar Heels last season. He’s got zip and fearless scoring ability, something that was on display in marquee matchups in the ACC last season. What he lacks against the rest of the class as a playmaker and long-range shooter is made up for with his size and ability to get buckets. On the Lakers, however, he’d be an awkward fit on a team that already has a bunch of players who need the ball.

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