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Los Angeles Lakers ‘Never Imagined’ That Dalton Knecht Would Fall To Them At No. 17

Dalton Knecht
Tennessee HC Rick Barnes and Dalton Knecht at the NBA Draft. Photo via Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics.

Perhaps the most surprising storyline in the first round of the 2024 NBA Draft was Tennessee star Dalton Knecht falling all the way to the Los Angeles Lakers at No. 17.

NBA mock drafts unanimously tabbed Knecht as a top 10 pick with most projecting the Charlotte Hornets to select Knecht with the No. 6 pick in the draft.

No one was more exciting about Knecht’s slide in the NBA Draft than the Los Angeles Lakers and their General Manager Rob Pelinka, who had no expectation that the SEC Player of the Year would be available to them at No. 17.

“We would have never imagined a player as skilled and kind of perfect for our needs would be there for us as Dalton Knecht,” Pelinka said. “We had him as a top 10 player unanimously across our scouting boards. I was at the SEC Tournament scouting him extensively and in my mind there was no way a player like this could be available for us to pick on draft night.”

Knecht was one of the most prolific scorers in the entire country last season on his way to earning SEC Player of the Year and First Team All-American honors.

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The 6-foot-6 shooting guard averaged 21.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. He was even better in SEC play where he averaged 25.5 points per game.

While falling in the draft was disappointing for Knecht, he landed with a team where he can make an instant impact and affect winning. With star wing creator LeBron James and power forward Anthony Davis, the Lakers are a consistent playoff time but have lacked shooting. Knecht helps fill that need.

“Across the board just couldn’t be happier,” Pelinka said. “I was joking with Coach Redick upstairs that we found a movement shooter to match his skills as a player and he already had his whiteboard out drawing up pin downs and ATOs and actions where he could run a movement shooter off screens so I think his mind is already running to draw up plays for Dalton. Just really really excited.”

Knecht was a fantastic shooter and scorer during his lone season at Tennessee. The Thornton, Colorado native shot 46% from the field and 40% from three-point range over the course of the season. He scored 40 points once, 35-plus points six times, 30-plus points seven times and 25-plus points 13 times in his incredibly impressive season in Knoxville.

Los Angeles landed Knecht in the draft and will now look to make him fit on their roster next season.

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