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Lakers, De'Andre Hunter

Editorials

3 reasons De’Andre Hunter is an ideal fit for the Lakers at No. 4 in the 2019 NBA Draft

3 reasons De’Andre Hunter is an ideal fit for the Lakers at No. 4 in the 2019 NBA Draft

The Los Angeles Lakers were fortunate enough to land the fourth overall pick in the NBA Draft Lottery two weeks ago, and this gives them an opportunity to find yet another talented prospect in the 2019 draft class.

The three teams ahead of Lakers in the draft order this June; the New Orleans Pelicans, Memphis Grizzlies, and New York Knicks are expected to select Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, and RJ Barrett respectively, meaning unless there’s a change of heart among those teams, the Purple and Gold won’t have the opportunity to get the three best players in this year’s class. In addition, a lot of scouts believe that there’s a huge drop-off in terms of talent after the top three picks.

So, will the Lakers be able to get someone who is capable of helping the team next season?

The answer is yes.

The Lakers will still have plenty of prospects to choose from. Coby White from North Carolina, Darius Garland from Vanderbilt, Jarrett Culver from Texas Tech, and Cam Reddish from Duke are some of the players they could select with the fourth overall pick. However, they are not the best options for the team. If LA wants to have someone who can make an immediate impact, they should go for Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter.

Hunter, a 6-foot-7 forward, helped lift the Virginia Cavaliers to an NCAA Championship this past season. He averaged 15 points and five rebounds per game in his final year in college while shooting 52 percent from the field.

So why is he the ideal option for the Lakers? Here are three reasons.

1. He’s a good 3-point shooter

One of the biggest problems the Lakers had last season was shooting. Their roster was doomed to fail right from the start when they started signing guys like Lance Stephenson, Michael Beasley, and Rajon Rondo.

As a team, the Lakers shot an abysmal 33.3 percent from beyond the arc.

Hunter can definitely help them in this department, as he shot 44 percent from deep in the NCAA tournament this year. He will be a perfect complimentary piece for a team whose offense runs around LeBron James.

2. He has the potential to be a great defender

Hunter has the tools to be an effective defender in the NBA. A 6’7, 225 forward who can guard multiple positions because of his 7-foot-2 wingspan. He’s quick enough to go after guards and tall enough to stand toe-to-toe against the bigs of the NCAA. He was an above average defender in college, and with the right development, he will most certainly improve.

In 38 games this season, Hunter had a total of 22 blocks and 22 steals.

Several scouts have already compared him to a young Kawhi Leonard, and if Hunter will be able to blossom into the star that The Klaw is, then it will definitely be a win for the Lakers.

3. A promising insurance

Let’s face it. The Lakers will most definitely do everything that they can to acquire Anthony Davis, meaning the fourth pick might not be theirs for long. But let’s say the Pels still refused to negotiate with the Purple and Gold, then the latter will have no choice but to move on.

With Hunter on the roster, there will definitely be a logjam in the small forward position. Not only does the Lakers have LeBron, but also Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma. If De’Andre will be able to prove that he’s the second-best small forward in the team, then it will be easier for the front office to trade either BI or Kuz. However, Hunter will need to really be special in order to outperform those two.

Now, if Hunter doesn’t live up to expectations, the Lakers can still trade him and get some decent value in return.

***

The Lakers were already fortunate enough to nab the fourth overall pick, and no matter what professional scouts say, they still can get a quality talent with their pick. Whether it’s Hunter or someone else, Los Angeles will need to choose wisely, as it will help shape the team’s future, even if they keep the pick or not.