The Los Angeles Lakers had one first-round pick in the 2023 NBA Draft and used it for themselves, picking up Jalen Hood-Schifino at No. 17 overall.
Cam Whitmore, who many thought would be a lottery pick this year, was on the board way longer than expected, giving the Lakers a chance to steal him when they were on the clock.
L.A. considered doing so, according to a report, but decided to go with Hood-Schifino instead. Whitmore was ultimately drafted by the Houston Rockets at No. 20 overall.
“Even as Cam Whitmore, who was a projected lottery pick, slid to Houston at pick No. 20, no team decided to trade up to steal him,” wrote Jovan Buha of The Athletic. “(The Lakers considered Whitmore, according to team sources, but determined Hood-Schifino was a surer bet.)”
The Associated Press had Whitmore going No. 5 overall in its mock draft. His slide on Thursday caught many by surprise but certainly left the Rockets happy when they were on the clock.
Whitmore averaged 12.5 points and 5.3 rebounds per game during his lone season at Villanova University, shooting 47.8 percent from the field and 34.3 percent from beyond the arc. He earned Freshman of the Year and All-Freshman honors in his conference.
Hood-Schifino, meanwhile, was impressive in his own right during his lone collegiate season. He averaged 13.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game at Indiana University while shooting 41.7 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from deep. He earned a variety of accolades in his conference, including Freshman of the Year honors.
The Lakers seemingly have high hopes for the youngster and think he has what it takes to become a good fit next to Austin Reaves. L.A. may be in the midst of a title window, but the team is also building a solid core for the future, which is very encouraging to see.
It’ll be interesting to see what type of role Hood-Schifino plays in his rookie season. The long-term goal, of course, is for him to show consistent improvement, even if it doesn’t come right away. But Lakers fans certainly remember the type of impact Reaves made in his rookie season, so it’s always possible that Hood-Schifino will end up being a key addition right away.
The Lakers are looking to take a step forward next season after falling in the 2023 Western Conference Finals.