They all knew before their predraft workout Saturday that the Lakers were not going to use their second overall draft pick on any of them.
The six players who worked out weren’t even sure if the Lakers would select them with their 27th pick in the first round or their 34th pick in the second round of the NBA draft on June 25.
But they all found inspiration from the journey Jordan Clarkson took with the Lakers, all of them knowing how late-round draft picks can still have success.
Clarkson was a second-round pick, taken in the 2014 NBA draft with the 46th overall selection by the Washington Wizards before he was acquired by the Lakers for cash considerations.
He flourished as the season progressed, earning All-NBA first-team rookie honors because of his improved play.
D.J. Newbill, a 6-4 guard from Penn State, knows about Clarkson’s story, and wouldn’t mind if he had a similar fate.
“It’s not where you start, it’s all about where you finish,” Newbill said after his workout for the Lakers. “That’s a guy [Clarkson] right there you can tell he’s got some grit because where he started at probably wasn’t his ideal situation. But he turned it into something good for himself. He has a bright future.”
Phil Greene, a 6-2 guard from St John’s, has been trying to prove he is a “pure point guard” and not a score-first guard during his workouts.
He, too, was impressed by Clarkson’s rise.
“It gives you a lot of hope seeing how great he played last year and how good he is,” Greene said. “It just gives you a lot of hope of staying with the grind and knowing anything can happen.”
“He was a second-round pick who battled a lot, but then worked and worked and worked and became an All-Star,” Hilliard said. “I’m not saying I’ll do that, but I just love his progress and how he went about getting into the league.”
Kendall Gray, a 6-10 power forward from Delaware State, said he has modeled his game after forward Tristan Thompson, the rebounding phenom with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Gray had 33 points and 30 rebounds in a game against Coppin State. He was second in the NCAA in rebounding at 11.8 a game.
“That’s my favorite player, Tristan Thompson,” Gray said. “He does what I want to do, going in there and doing all the dirty work, grabbing the offensive rebounds.”
The Lakers said guard Michael Qualls from Arkansas was unable to participate in the workouts because of a knee injury, but he was at the facility.
The Lakers will have more predraft workouts Monday and Friday at the team’s practice facility in El Segundo.