The Los Angeles Lakers hosted their final pre-draft workout on Tuesday at the team practice facility. The workout included six prospects projected to be drafted somewhere in the second round or go undrafted and enter the NBA as a free agent.
One potential draftee that was featured during the workout was Syracuse senior Cole Swider. The floor-spacing forward made a massive improvement last season for Syracuse by averaging 13.9 points and 6.8 rebounds, which are his NCAA career highs.
The progression Swider has made to his game over the course of four years is promising. Seeing Lakers guard Austin Reaves have a similar path to development this past season, the Syracuse forward seemed optimistic when asked if he could envision similar opportunities.
“Yeah, I think that with the implementation of the two-way contracts, it’s opened up a lot of opportunities for guys like me, for guys, like who may be uncertain of their draft status,” Swider said. “For me, honestly, it’s just about finding the right fit. And like I said, I’m willing to go undrafted. I’d be ecstatic to be drafted but at the end of the day, this guy’s like Duncan Robinson with me who signed five-year $90 million contracts.
“There’s been like guys like Max Strus and Gabe Vincent. And obviously, Austin Reeves and see what he’s done this year. Even guys like Mason Jones, you see how they developed the Lakers’ G league team this year. So I think there’s a lot of value in being undrafted now where maybe before it wouldn’t have been.”
The maturity Swider brings both on and off the court will be pleasing for whatever coach gets to develop him during his first NBA season. He brings experience with some of the highest-regarded college coaches of all-time in Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim and former Villanova head coach Jay Wright, who Swider played under before transferring.
When searching for how he fits with any of the 30 teams in the association, the answer is simpler than scouts may think. The 6-foot-9-inch stretch-four gives any team a position need that can never be over satisfied. Swider’s ability to put the ball in the hoop anywhere on the floor makes him valuable in the modern NBA.
“Yeah, I think I think the reason why I’m here is because of my shooting,” Swider said. “I shot 41 percent from three. Forty percent back-to-back years and obviously my size and I think my rebound will translate the NBA level. I think my shooting will translate immediately. And honestly for me, it’s all about just playing within myself. Playing with guys like LeBron [James], AD and Russ. I mean, they need guys like me for space, and obviously being 6’10” helps that as well, but I think for me it’s getting into league and doing what I do well and then obviously expanding off of that for a long time.”
If the Lakers acquire someone on draft night or through free agency, a popular question will be how they fit with the star duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
The consensus answer for any player at any position will be floor-spacing because of James and Davis’ elite pick-and-roll action, but how Swider can be an asset in all phases of the game if paired with the duo will be something the Lakers will have to figure out before adding him to the mix.
“It’s still a dream. You know what I mean? I’m saying it because I can see the fit, but I still haven’t been around those guys and see how they operate every single day. So for me, it’s cool to say but at the same time it’s one of those things where it’s obviously I’m hoping I’m in a position where I can play with those guys.”
Swider brings a play style the Lakers desperately need if they want a shot at returning to championship contention. With experience, a pro-ready game and a maturity that not a lot of draftees contain, Swider would be a great fit for the Lakers as a young floor-spacing post player.
Swider comes in for second workout with Lakers
While the Lakers currently do not hold a draft pick, they are believed to be in the market for second rounders, perhaps to draft Swider, who was the only prospect to workout for the team twice in the pre-draft process.