NBA Draft: Lakers select Tennessee star Dalton Knecht with No. 17 overall pick after surprising slide


Dalton Knecht had to wait quite a bit longer than many expected at the Barclays Center on Wednesday night.

While that left many confused, the Los Angeles Lakers took full advantage and pulled off one of the best picks from a value standpoint in the entire first round of the NBA Draft.

The Lakers selected Knecht with the No. 17 overall pick on Wednesday in what was one of the biggest surprises of the first round. Many thought the Tennessee star would be a top-10 pick after his run in the SEC this past season. Yahoo Sports’ Krysten Peek even had him going No. 6 overall in her final mock draft earlier in the day.

Yet as the lottery picks came and went, Knecht kept waiting to hear his name called. Even the ESPN desk on site was confused for the slide, which seemed to come down to an age issue. At 23-years-old, Knecht is simply older than many others in this draft class. He was the oldest player selected at that point, and only two others — former Purdue star Zach Edey, who went No. 9 overall to Memphis, and Providence’s Devin Carter, who went No. 13 overall to Sacramento — were older than 20.

But based on his career so far, it’s nothing new and won’t be a problem for him. Knecht didn’t receive a single Division-I scholarship offer out of high school, and he started at a junior college before transferring into Northern Colorado. He then made the jump to Tennessee for his final season, which is where his career truly took off.

Knecht averaged 21.7 points and 4.9 rebounds per game with the Volunteers last season while leading them to the Elite Eight — which was the program’s deepest NCAA tournament run since 2010. He was one of the best scorers in the country, shooting just shy of 40% from behind the arc, and he was named the SEC’s Player of the Year and a first-team All-American. Though he might not be a generational talent to build an entire franchise around, Knecht is an experienced guard who can jump into an NBA team with valuable minutes right away.

Knecht will now get to team up with LeBron James and play for first-year head coach J.J. Redick in Los Angeles. As far as starting spots go in the league, he should fit in great in Los Angeles right away. For all parties involved, the pick is sure to have been worth the wait.



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