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The Los Angeles Lakers will have the No. 22 overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft that will transpire on July 29.
During the draft combine that recently occurred, the Lakers had reportedly interviewed various players from different positions.
The list of interviewees included Gonzaga forward Corey Kispert, Tennessee guard Jaden Springer, Virginia forward Trey Murphy III and Utah State center Neemias Queta.
Kispert, Springer and Murphy III could all be options for Los Angeles at No. 22 if they’re available given the promise all three have shown on defense and with their perimeter shooting skills.
But the Lakers are also doing their due diligence on players outside of that No. 22 range, which players like Queta would fall under.
According to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN, the Lakers will workout Illinois forward Giorgi Bezhanishvili:
Bezhanishvili declared for the draft after three seasons with Illinois, but his numbers and minutes have declined every season.
After being a typical starter for Illinois during his first two seasons, Bezhanishvili didn’t log any starts in the 2020-21 campaign.
In 14.5 minutes per game this season, he averaged 5.1 points, 2.7 rebounds and 0.4 assists while shooting 54.5 percent overall on 4.0 attempts, 50 percent from deep on only 0.2 attempts and 62.9 percent from the free-throw line on 1.1 attempts.
Those numbers don’t jump out as someone the Lakers would select at No. 22 overall, but it could be L.A. doing more research on a prospect they like to stash and see more of.
Bezhanishvili is more of a small-ball center archetype, but he’s not a good shooter yet as evident by his percentages and volume of attempts.
There’s a good chance he’ll go undrafted on draft night given his drop in production, but if the Lakers like what they see Wednesday, they could make a play for him and involve him during the Las Vegas Summer League or with the South Bay Lakers since the G League is slated to return.