The Los Angeles Lakers avoided completely bottoming out by defeating the Chicago Bulls, then going on the road and notching an impressive win against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Not only did the young core provided significant contributions in both games but also rookie Svi Mykhailiuk.
The second-round pick hit a pair of 3-pointers off the bench against the Bulls, but also showed off the other facets of his game. Mykhailiuk did an excellent job drawing a charge on defense and also had a highlight-reel assist on an alley-oop to Tyson Chandler.
With the Lakers looking for a boost on offense as of late, Mykhailiuk would seem to be a prime candidate for an increased role, and head coach Luke Walton is all for it. “I’m trying to find it,” he said.
“I want to get him opportunities, especially because we struggle to shoot. We think he can be an elite shooter in this league one day. I’m looking for minutes for him, and he knows that, so he should be doing the work and staying ready. We’ll keep giving him spot minutes, and then depending on if he makes or misses those shots, the spot minutes can turn into bigger minutes.”
Mykhailiuk made only two shots against the Thunder but one was a 3-pointer that came at a much-needed time. Mykhailiuk certainly has the credentials to be the elite shooter Walton speaks about.
He shot 40.9 percent from deep in his four-year career at Kansas, topping out at 44.4 percent as a senior. He has struggled so far for the most part in his rookie season at just 34.3 percent, but has shined during stints in the G League.
In five games for the South Bay Lakers, Mykhailiuk has averaged 29.2 points while hitting 44.9 percent from deep.
What few expected from Mykhailiuk, and what makes him a potential regular rotation player, has been the rest of his game. While not a lockdown defender, he has shown he has enough foot speed and the basketball IQ to be a good team defender.
Additionally, he has flashed solid ballhandling and passing skills, even filling in at point guard at times for the Lakers.
Finding a consistent role for Mykhailiuk will be tough with Josh Hart, Lance Stephenson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope all fighting for minutes. But there is no doubt that the rookie is gaining confidence and if he can start knocking down shots at a high rate, the offensively-challenged Lakers will have to find a spot for him.
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