Kupchak on Draft Camps

In June 23rd’s NBA Draft, the Lakers are currently slotted for four second round picks, but none in the first round.

As general manager Mitch Kupchak explained, that doesn’t mean he and his staff won’t have a good read on every player eligible.

“You have to know every player, you have to have an opinion on every player, and you have to know the likelihood that you’ll make a deal,” he said. “But the likelihood is that you’re going to end up drafting where you have your picks today, so that’s where we spend most of your time.”

Kupchak has been spending much of that time in recent weeks at various pre draft camps around the country, from Chicago to New Jersey to Minnesota, getting an updated look at players they’ve been tracking, in some cases, for years. The biggest of those camps occurred in Chicago in late May.

“In Chicago there were groupings of players, maybe eight in a group, so it’s not that hard to track eight players for 45 minutes for two days in a row,” he said. “Maybe you know a player or two pretty well, so you focus on the others in the group, and you may pay more attention to guys you think may be in the second round. It’s very little contact, a lot of skill work, some running, a lot of shooting and physical testing, including running, jumping, quickness and things like that. Unfortunately they don’t play actual games as they used to.”

As such, draft camps are often more supplementary than primary for evaluation of players, since the lack of playing competitive games takes out a major area for evaluators to judge. Other than players still playing in Europe, most potential draftees will not play competitively before June 23, but Kupchak and his still will continue to work right through the draft. Assistant GM Ronnie Lester is due to travel to Treviso, Italy, to look at several European prospects, while the Lakers will bring in several players for workouts at the team’s practice facility.

Final prep will come in the team’s war room, as each of Kupchak’s scouts and assistants will gather the Friday before the draft to get all of the draft ducks in order. And during the actual draft, having the four second picks doesn’t mean there will automatically be four new rookies on the team next season.

“It’s unlikely you’ll draft four players in the second round that are good enough, first and foremost,” said Kupchak. “Second of all, it’s unlikely you’ll draft four picks thinking that they would make your team. You may want to take a pick or two in Europe and let them develop.

“At that point in the second round, if somebody drops that you didn’t think would drop you probably just take him regardless of position.”

In conclusion, Kupchak mentioned that the team could potentially be in need of additional guards in part because they’re unsure if Shannon Brown will pick up the option year of his contract, and in part due to the age of starters Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher.