Lakers select Tennessee star Dalton Knecht in the 2024 NBA Draft

The Los Angeles Lakers needed outside shooting and new head coach JJ Redick, a former sharpshooter himself, can recognize a good shooter when he sees one. With the 17th overall pick in the first round, the Lakers selected Dalton Knecht of the Tennessee Volunteers.

Knecht was selected as the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Player of the Year in the 2023-2024 season. Knecht averaged 21.7 points per game in 36 games in leading the Volunteers to the Elite 8 of the men's NCAA Basketball Tournament, where they loss to Purdue. Knecht shot 39.7% from the three-point line in 2023-2024.

General Manager Rob Pelinka was ecstatic over the selection of Dalton Knecht with the 17th overall pick in the first round. "We would have never imagined that a player as skilled and sort of perfect for our needs would be there for us," Pelinka said. "We had him as a top ten player unanimously across our scouting boards."

Pelinka added that Knecht was the "SEC Player of the Year, one of the toughest conferences...he's a three-level scorer...he's going to defend. He's physical and athletic. We just think he fits so well with our pillar pieces."

Knecht is a 6-foot-5 swingman who weighed in at 212 pounds at the NBA Combine. He had a 39" vertical leap and the top shuttle run of 2.79 seconds at the NBA combine. One reason Knecht may have lasted until the 17th pick was his age. At 23 years old, he is one of the older players in the draft, which may have hurt his draft status with some teams that were looking for younger prospects. Knecht was a late bloomer.

Knecht played his high school basketball at Prairie View high school in Henderson, Colorado. He did not get a Division I offer and ended up playing basketball for two seasons at Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Colorado. He spent the next two seasons at Northern Colorado University in Greeley, Colorado, where he averaged 20.2 points per game and 7.2 rebounds per game in his senior season. He selected second-team All-Big Sky in 2022-2023

Knecht had one season of eligibility left due to the Covid super senior extra year and decided to transfer to Knoxville to play for Tennessee. In his one season at Tennessee, Knecht won the Julius Erving Award as the nation's top college small forward and he was a consensus first team All-American. He also won the Riley Wallace Award as the most impactful transfer in the nation and was the SEC Newcomer of the Year.

He had a spectacular senior season in his one season at Tennessee and went from a player that was on no NBA team's radar to a first-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Lakers. Knecht has been described as the epitome of a gym rat and the hard work has taken him on an amazing ride to the NBA.

 

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