The future of the Lakers walked into their training facility Wednesday. Maybe.
The team worked out 12 players in anticipation of the NBA draft, hoping to find the right one before selecting seventh overall June 26.
Notably absent were the consensus top three college players — Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins — not to mention Australian point guard Dante Exum and Kentucky power forward Julius Randle.
So the Lakers took long looks at power forwards Noah Vonleh (Indiana) and Aaron Gordon (Arizona), as well as point guard Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State).
Not long after the Lakers fell from sixth to seventh in the draft lottery, yet another loss after a hapless season, General Manager Mitch Kupchak insisted they would get a solid player.
He continued to feel that way Wednesday.
"I still think we'll get a good player. I do," Kupchak said. "Hopefully we pick the right player, but there's a lot of talent."
Very young talent.
Gordon and Vonleh declared for the draft after one season. Other players who worked out Wednesday were freshman guards Tyler Ennis (Syracuse) and Zach LaVine (UCLA), and sophomore guards Smart and Gary Harris (Michigan State).
"Some of the talent is young and goes out a couple years," Kupchak said. "If you remember back 18 years ago, we drafted Kobe [Bryant] and Kobe played limited minutes his first year. In fact, he was frustrated his first year. He didn't play as much as he wanted.
"And of course, Andrew [Bynum] didn't play much at all his first year and you had to wait on Andrew a little more than you had to wait on Kobe."
Bryant, acquired in a draft-day trade with Charlotte in 1996, averaged only 7.6 points his first season before improving to 15.4 a game in his second year. Andrew Bynum, taken 10th overall in 2005, averaged 1.6 points his first season and 7.8 points his second year before improving to 13.1 in season three.
Few players shot up in draft popularity like Vonleh, who already owned good range, making 48.5% of his three-point attempts at Indiana. Then he was measured last month with the draft combine's largest wingspan (a little more than 7 feet 4) and longest hands (almost 10 inches).
Smart is a projected top-10 pick, but he earned notoriety when he shoved a Texas Tech fan in a courtside seat last season and was suspended three games. It hasn't been a focal point of his individual interviews with teams, Smart said.
"Not really. Teams probably mention it, but one or two words about it and it's done," Smart said.
If Smart is picked by the Lakers, he already sees a similarity with Bryant.
"Toughness," Smart said. "I hate to lose, just like he does. Everybody knows that Kobe Bryant is one of the more fierce competitors to ever play the game. So being able to play alongside of him and learn from him and take what he teaches is an honor in itself."
Who's the coach?
Who will coach the Lakers' draft pick is still unclear. Very unclear.
There is only a 50-50 chance the Lakers hire someone before the draft, according to a person familiar with the situation.
"The coaching search is ongoing," Kupchak said. "We've interviewed several candidates. We'll interview more. Other than that, there's really nothing to add right now."
Five candidates have been interviewed in person: Byron Scott, Kurt Rambis, Lionel Hollins, Alvin Gentry and Mike Dunleavy.
LaVine sets a record
LaVine had the stat of the day, nailing a 46-inch vertical leap.
It wasn't quite a traditional vertical (he was tested for that as well) but on the record-setter for a Lakers workout, he was allowed to take a few steps before jumping.
"I think I was pumped a little bit. You know, the Lakers," LaVine said.
LaVine, 6 feet 6, is projected to go in the middle of the first round, perhaps a bit higher.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times