Former Duke Star Lands With Lakers in New ESPN Mock Draft

Los Angeles Lakers fans can't wait to see what the team does with the No. 17 pick of the 2024 NBA Draft. One mock draft analyst is projecting them to select former Duke PG Jared McCain.
Who will the Lakers draft at No. 17 in the 2024 NBA Draft?
Who will the Lakers draft at No. 17 in the 2024 NBA Draft? / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The 2024 NBA Draft Lottery took place on Sunday, resulting in this year's No. 1 selection being awarded to the Atlantic Hawks. The Los Angeles Lakers currently hold the 17th overall pick in June and while the New Orleans Pelicans can swap picks due to the Anthony Davis trade, The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor reported last month that the Pelicans will likely take a 2025 selection instead.

All eyes are now on the Lakers to see what they do with Pick No. 17. While some fans would love for Los Angeles to land its best prospect in years, others want general manager Rob Pelinka to use the pick in a package to bring in another all-star to play alongside Davis and (hopefully) LeBron James.

Assuming that Pelinka & Co. decide to hold onto the selection, one NBA mock draft analyst has the Lakers targeting a former Duke stud to help improve their backcourt.

Lakers Select Duke's Jared McCain in ESPN Mock Draft

In his latest mock draft with Jonathan Givony, ESPN's Jeremy Woo has the Lakers using the 17th overall pick on Duke's Jared McCain. The 20-year-old playmaker is the 19th-rated prospect and seventh-rated point guard on Givony's top-25 rankings.

If the Pelicans let them keep their selection, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Lakers target one of the best PG prospects in the class. D'Angelo Russell was solid during the regular season but collapsed in his second consecutive postseason and is now likely to decline his player option. Meanwhile, the likes of Gabe Vincent and Spencer Dinwiddie failed to produce results in a supporting role.

Woo views McCain as a potential NBA-ready option "who can contribute next season." The Sacramento, CA native showed a lot of promise in his lone year as a starter for the Blue Devils, averaging 14.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.1 steals while playing nearly 32 minutes per night.

While he's mainly listed as a PG, McCain's solid perimeter skills could make him a shooting guard. He excelled at helping Duke stretch the floor throughout the 2023-24 campaign, averaging 2.4 threes made with a 41.4% success rate. His three-point success led to a 61.1% true shooting percentage, which ranked eighth-best in the ACC.

It's been a long time since Lakers fans had a first-round prospect to be excited about and McCain could potentially satisfy that hunger. Since the 2019 NBA Draft, Jalen Hood-Schifino (2023) is the only player whom Los Angeles drafted in Round 1 who went on to play any games for the franchise.

Even then, it isn't as if Hood-Schifino wowed anyone during his rookie campaign. Injuries and Darvin Ham's consistent lineups limited the former Indiana Hoosier to an average of 5.2 minutes across 21 games last season as he put up 1.6 points, 0.6 rebounds, and 0.4 assists with .222/.133/.600 shooting splits.

Fans won't have to wait long to find out if they should pre-order a Lakers jersey with McCain's name on it. The 2024 NBA Draft takes place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY on June 26 and 27.

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