One area of improvement that many have identified for the Los Angeles Lakers moving forward is frontcourt depth.
In addition to superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, they have Jarred Vanderbilt, who emerged as a defensive stopper, scoring threat Rui Hachmiura and 3-and-D backup center Mo Bamba. Hachimura will become a free agent soon, and Mamba’s future with the team is in some question, so the Lakers could need some new bodies up front.
With the No. 17 and No. 47 picks in the upcoming 2023 NBA Draft, they could find one or two such bodies there. One big man prospect they recently worked out was Morris Udeze from the University of New Mexico.
Udeze is a big body that can score
At 6-foot-8 and 245 pounds, Udeze is a widebody that is difficult to guard in the paint. He is a solid low-post scorer, as well as a strong finisher inside, either off low-post moves or ball movement.
He averaged 16.4 points a game while shooting 61.0 percent from the field this past season for the Lobos. It was his first season with them after playing the previous four at Wichita State University.
Udeze also grabbed 9.6 rebounds a game during the 2022-23 campaign, and he’s not a bad interior defender either.
He doesn’t have much of an outside shot, if any, to speak of, and while he isn’t unathletic, he’s not an outstanding athlete either.
Udeze played plenty of center at New Mexico, but he likely lacks the height to play that position at the next level. On the other hand, his lack of an outside stroke prevents him from being an ideal power forward.
It’s looking like Udeze may go later in the second round of the draft. But he also could end up being an undrafted free agent. Would the Lakers be interested enough to sign him and give him a shot, perhaps in the G League?