The Lakers were thrilled to draft Tennessee’s Dalton Knecht with the 17th overall pick

Dalton Knecht draft pic
Dalton Knecht draft pic

This offseason, the Los Angeles Lakers parted ways with head coach Darvin Ham after two winning seasons. That included a trip to the Western Conference Finals in 2023. However, that was not enough for Ham to keep his job. To the surprise of no one, JJ Redick was hired as the next head coach of the Lakers. 

That was one of the worst-kept secrets this offseason. Regardless, Redick is now the head coach in Los Angeles. Last night, the team had their first teal decision to make with Redick in his position. The Lakers had the 17th pick in the 2024 NBA Draft. General Manager Rob Pelinka said the team was thrilled to draft Tennessee’s Dalton Knecht. They had him ranked as a top-10 prospect in the draft class. Being able to get Knecht at #17 was “extraordinary” value according to Pelinka.

How will the Lakers use Dalton Knecht in his rookie season?

With the 17th pick in the 2024 NBA Draft, the Lakers selected Dalton Knecht out of Tennessee. Last season, Knecht was a consensus All-American in his lone season with the Volunteers. Knecht started his career at Northeastern Junior College before he played two seasons in the Big Sky at Northern Colorado. He used his final year of eligibility to play for Tennesee and was one of the best players in the country. The 23-year-old averaged (21.7) points, (4.9) rebounds, and (1.6) assists per game.

During the 2023-24 season, Knecht averaged a career-high (.391) percent from beyond the arc. He averaged (6.5) threes per game last season. Now, the 2023-24 SEC Player of the Year is heading to Los Angeles to play for one of the most storied franchises in the sport. At 23, Knecht is an experienced rookie. Most players drafted in the first round play one year in college and then take their talents to the pros. However, Dalton Knecht played five seasons in college. Two at junior college, two at Northern Colorado, and one with Tennessee.

In 2024-25, Dalton Knecht will likely start his career off the bench for the Lakers. While Knecht is an elite scorer, he needs to work on his defensive skills. At six-foot-six, Knecht is naturally an asset on the court, including defensively. He had a six-foot-nine wingspan. However, Knecht needs to polish that part of his game if he wants to be s starter in Los Angeles. The rookie could be the team’s second-string SF behind Lebron James if that’s where the Lakers choose to play him. It might be in their best interest to use Knecht as SG to take advantage of smaller defenders. We’ll have to see what first-year head coach JJ Redick has in store for the rookie.

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