NBA Draft 2023: 3 perfect picks for the Los Angeles Lakers at No. 17

Apr 3, 2023; Houston, TX, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard Jordan Hawkins (24) shoots the ball over San Diego State Aztecs guard Matt Bradley (20) during the first half in the national championship game of the 2023 NCAA Tournament at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Most of the Lakers offseason work will come in free agency. But they have a rare chance to add an impact rookie with the No. 17 pick in the NBA Draft.

The Lakers’ biggest priorities this offseason are re-signing (or replacing) Austin Reaves, Rui Hachimura and D’Angelo Russell and then figuring out what other sorts of upgrades they can make around the margins with trades or through free agency.

But the No. 17 pick in the first round also gives them a chance to add a rookie who can perhaps contribute as soon as next season and begin building a base of talent for the eventual departure of LeBron James and Anthony Davis down the road. Balancing NBA-readiness with long-term potential is always a challenge but there are a few players who have the right blend for the Lakers.

Perfect NBA Draft picks for the Los Angeles Lakers: 3. Jordan Hawkins

Hawkins’ draft stock rose dramatically during UConn’s March Madness run but even before the tournament he had established himself as a clear first-round prospect with his dynamite outside shooting. He made 38.8 percent of more than seven 3-point attempts per game, but even that number doesn’t quite capture his upside. Hawkins has deep range and is extremely comfortable shooting movement, making him a dangerous off-ball threat both spotting up and running through a maze of screens. For a team that often struggled to space the floor and leverage off-ball movement last season, Hawkins’ efficiency and gravity could help the Lakers right away.

The catch with Hawkins is that he doesn’t offer much else besides shooting in the short-term or, probably, the long term. He’s not a great defender and his light, wiry frame often puts him at a disadvantage. He’s not a great finisher at the rim and doesn’t really have the shake, vision or handle to create for himself or others out of the pick-and-roll. He might be the most sure thing the Lakers find available at No. 17 but he doesn’t have the same upside as some other prospects who could be available.

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