The Los Angeles Lakers worked out a familiar name Tuesday — Jabari Walker, the son of former No. 9 pick Samaki Walker, who won a ring with the Lakers in 2002.
The younger Walker isn’t projected to be the ninth pick like his dad but is coming off a strong season at the University of Colorado. Jabari averaged 14.6 points and 9.4 rebounds, leading the Buffaloes in both categories.
A lengthy 6-foot-9 forward with a 7-foot wingspan, Jabari can evolve into a demon on defense. The Lakers would benefit from having a high-energy defender who also shot 34.6% from three last season.
Walker believed he showed what he hoped to in the limited workout Tuesday.
“Definitely. Bits and pieces, you’re not gonna be able to show everything in one workout,” Jabari said. “But the main thing that I can control is my energy so I feel like it’s just tough to keep that up and that’s what separates some people when traveling and doing a bunch of these workouts. Just tried to make sure my energy was there through the workout.”
Jabari is projected as a second-round pick but voices confidence he’ll carve a role in the league. He pointed to the success of recent Pelicans second-round draft pick Herb Jones, who has a similar body type as Jabari.
Even though his situation is unlike Samaki’s, Jabari has still received advice from his dad about the draft process.
“Yeah, he’s given me as much as he can. His situation was a little different, he was the No. 9 pick so I don’t know how many workouts he had, but I’m sure it’s not 12 or 13 like I’m having,” Jabari said. “And his were individual, so it was just him, they wanted to look at him and see some of the things he can do. It wasn’t as grueling so he can help me to a certain extent with that.”
Jabari was born the year Samaki won a championship with the Purple and Gold but didn’t grow up a Lakers fan. Instead, he became a LeBron James fan, following the King from team to team.
“I can’t even be a bandwagon or lie about it,” he said.
Samaki, however, always shares stories about Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, including one where Samaki reportedly blocked Shaq’s dunk in practice.
“His best stories, he tells me that him and Shaq were lined up at a practice and Shaq said ‘alright, I’m gonna dunk on you’ and he was standing under the rim and Shaq went to go try to dunk on him and he blocked it and then Shaq fell backwards. He tells me that story, he tells me it’s true but I’ve never seen video. But apparently Phil Jackson wrote about it in his book, it’s documented somewhere.”
The Lakers do not have a draft pick this year but are expected to be among the top of lists for undrafted players.
Lakers looking to acquire a second-round pick
Given the lack of cap space, utilizing the draft to find diamonds in the rough could pay off. General manager Rob Pelinka confirmed that the Lakers hope to secure a late draft pick to do exactly that. In recent years the Lakers have been able to turn second-round draft picks into solid rotational players. They might have the chance to do the same this year.
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