Lakers Work Out Gordon, Payton, Smart For Second Time
Accompanying the three were P.J. Hairston (Texas Legends), Nik Stauskas (Michigan) and Matthew Hezekiah (South Carolina St.). Stauskas was originally scheduled to work out for the Lakers during the June 4 session, but canceled because of a shoulder injury.
"I hurt my shoulder that week so my agent didn’t want me going out feeling less than 100 percent so we just rescheduled for this week," Stauskas said. "I was glad they got some of these guys back today and I got to go against high competition."
Stauskas spent two seasons at Michigan and has been heralded as one of the better shooters in the NBA Draft. Despite skipping his final two years of college, the Canada native finished his career fifth all-time in three-point field goal percentage (44.10) and eighth all-time in three-pointers made (172) in program history.
"I think I offer a skill set that not many people have – the ability to really shoot it and put it on the floor and create for others," Stauskas said. "There’s parts of my game I’m working on, but offensively right now, I feel like there’s not a lot of people that can do what I do."
Along with Stauskas on Friday, Smart and Payton were two other combo guards participating, this time for a second workout. The possibility of playing alongside Kobe Bryant in the backcourt is something that has crossed Smart's mind on more than one occasion.
"I've thought about it plenty of times," he said. "Kobe is one of the greatest all time. To play with him and under him and have him as a mentor would be phenomenal."
Physically, Smart is one of the bigger prospects at the guard position, although he tested well athletically at the NBA Pre-Draft Combine in Chicago last month. One of his main goals during his second workout was to show the Lakers brass his ability as a playmaker. Smart ranked fifth in assists in Big 12 play (4.7) while at Oklahoma State during the 2013-14 campaign.
"Just trying to make plays, not for myself, but for my teammates also," Smart said. "Just show them I can play the point guard position if needed, but I can play off the ball also."
For Payton, he recently received an invite to the NBA Draft green room, a sign he could be drafted somewhere in the lottery (the NBA also extends invitations to other projected first-round selections later). As a junior at Louisiana Lafayette, Payton won the Lefty Driesell Award, an honor given annually to the nation's best defensive player. He also earned First Team All-Sun Belt honors for the second straight season and was named the Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year. Payton believes his biggest strength that he can bring to the NBA is his defensive ability.
Gordon is also someone who has been lauded for his skills on the defensive end, the third prospect of the group who worked out for a second time in front of Lakers coaches and management. He helped anchor Arizona's defense during his freshman campaign, which ranked No. 6 in the nation in points per game allowed (58.6) and fourth in field-goal percentage (38.0). Although he was inconsistent on the offensive end as far as his jump shot (42.2 percent free throws), Gordon believes he's improved in that area of his game since the season ended, in part due to his confidence.
"I have all the tools," he said. "Now it's just sharpening my tools ... There's not one area I'm not focusing on. I'm focusing on every single aspect of my game, from top to bottom. All the little nuances, all the little intricacies, I'm focusing on all of that."
With the NBA Draft less than one week away, we'll find out soon enough who the Lakers select.