One of the best stories of last season for the Los Angeles Lakers was the emergence of undrafted rookie Austin Reaves as a reliable rotation player. Originally signed to a two-way contract after a solid outing in Summer League, the Lakers would convert Reaves’ contract into a standard deal just before training camp.
With so many veterans on the roster, Reaves was not expected to be in the rotation, but injuries forced the rookie into the lineup, and he thrived with his high basketball IQ and toughness on both ends of the floor. As a result, Reaves is now considered one of the team’s young prospects who can impact the team moving forward, and those representing prospects in the 2022 NBA Draft have taken notice.
With the Lakers again looking to fill out their roster with younger talent and numerous open roster spots going into the offseason, the L.A. Times’ Dan Woike reports that the Lakers will be at or near the top of the lists of landing spots for undrafted free agents:
The Lakers will again be among the tops of lists for agents with players who go undrafted, the team having so many holes to fill and the success of Austin Reaves as a template. And with two fewer players being drafted because of the Bulls and Heat forfeiting picks, the talent pool should be slightly better.
This makes a lot of sense for those prospects as a prospect will have a much better chance at making the roster on a team with the number of roster spots the Lakers possess. Additionally, when playing for the Lakers, the stage is much bigger than practically any other team in the NBA.
Often, players on the brink of getting drafted prefer to fall out of the draft entirely as they can choose where they want to go based on the interested teams. They can then weigh the options and find the best fit for them to make the roster and make an impact.
The fact that Austin Reaves just had an excellent rookie season when no one expected him to be on the floor regularly will give hope that others this season can do the same.
Lakers expected to ‘aggressively’ pursue buying a second-round pick
The Lakers apparently won’t be relying solely on potential undrafted free agents, however. Even though the Lakers do not currently own a pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, the franchise is reportedly expected to aggressively pursue buying a second-round pick.
The team has had great success in identifying talent in the second round in recent years, and with the franchise looking to get younger under new coach Darvin Ham, the Lakers will be exploring all options.