Lakers introduce first round draft pick Dalton Knecht

The Lakers' first-round pick, Dalton Knecht, is joining the team with a different kind of fanfare compared to the Los Angeles' second-round pick. The guard out of the University of Tennessee doesn't have eight million followers on Instagram and isn't the son of an all-time great NBA player.

His road to the NBA was a much tougher journey compared to that of his new teammate, Bronny James. "Ever since I touched a basketball, I knew that I could do it, it was just a matter of how," said Knecht at the introductory press conference last Tuesday. "My journey is not like everybody else's, but that's OK. Everybody else has a journey of their own. So, just creating my path. And, like I said, creating my path is something special and a lot of kids will look up to it."

Though his name isn't as big as James' the 2023-2024 Southeastern Conference (SEC) Player of the Year is looking to make his presence felt early with his new team. His coach sees his value right away for the team.

"We didn't think Dalton would be available at 17, but he provides something that we just don't have," Lakers new coach JJ Redick said. "He's a movement shooter. He can obviously play off the bounce. We viewed him very highly on our draft board. And he can score at all three levels. He's got size and there was a lot of things to be excited about with Dalton"

Knecht was drafted with the 17th overall pick in the first round after averaging 21.7 points per game in 36 games in leading the Volunteers to the Elite 8 of the men's NCAA Basketball Tournament. Knecht shot 39.7% from the three-point line in 2023-2024. His outside shooting and maturity is what could get him on the floor early for the Lakers who are looking to win now because their two main stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis are getting older.

The Lakers' drafting of Knecht comes at a time when the organization has made it clear player development will be a greater emphasis for them moving forward. "It's nutrition," said Redick. "It's how you take care of your body, your work in the weight room. The mental development. and all the ups and downs that come. I had a chance to spend a few minutes with Dalton this morning. And one of the things we talked about is just being open-minded. Having an openness and just letting go of outcomes."

At 23 years old Knecht was one of the older players in the draft, which may have hurt his draft status with some teams that were looking for younger prospects but for the Lakers he was the ideal prospect. "I'm just excited to be here in the right place," Knecht said. "And I'm excited just to get to work here and go out and compete."

Now Knecht will have the opportunity to prove to the Laker Nation that he was the right guy when he steps on the floor this weekend for the California Classic in San Francisco (July 6-10) before heading to Las Vegas for the NBA 2K25 Summer League (July 12-22).

 

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