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Dante Exum downplays report he’s angling to be drafted by Lakers

May 15, 2014, 8:56 PM EDT

Dante Exum Dante Exum

The NBA Draft Combine began in Chicago on Thursday, and perhaps the most attention on day one was paid to Australian prospect Dante Exum.

The 6’6″ point guard hasn’t been seen by many decision makers in person, and his appearance at the combine and willingness to go through the process speaks to the mystery surrounding him, as well as his hope of rising even further up NBA draft boards.

That would seem to be a strategy that would do anything but help the Lakers select him.

Exum signed on with Kobe Bryant‘s agent Rob Pelinka, and has been working out in Los Angeles since just after the All-Star break. It was reported that he may try to force his way to L.A., even though that’s not something that would deter other teams from drafting him in the slightest. But he downplayed that in speaking to reporters.

From the Associated Press:

Exum attended several Lakers games this season and got to meet Kobe Bryant, but he downplayed a report that he would prefer to play for them. He insists he’s most concerned about the fit when it comes to who drafts him.

“Obviously the Lakers are a great organization,” he said. “But I’m in this draft to go to a place I feel best at, that is a good fit for me.”

Simply showing up to the combine makes Exum easy to believe, as the only reason to do so would be to impress teams and to generate a buzz that could help him emerge as one of the top few picks.

Most mocks have Exum going somewhere in the top five, and if the lottery goes according to statistical probability, that would leave the Lakers on the outside, as they would be slotted for sixth. But as Exum has seemed to make clear, he hopes to be selected much higher than that.

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