Dalton Knecht’s shooting struggles continue, but Lakers rookie could be due for breakthrough performance

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SAN FRANCISCO — Los Angeles Lakers rookie Dalton Knecht struggled to find a rhythm for the second consecutive day in the California Classic as L.A. fell to the Golden State Warriors 92-68 on Sunday. After finishing 3-of-12 from the floor in the event’s first game on Saturday, Knecht finished with 12 points on 3-of-13 shooting in 22 minutes of action the following day.

Although Knecht’s shots weren’t falling, he did manage to get open in a variety of ways — mostly off dribble-hand-offs and curls. Through his first two summer league games, Knecht is just 2-of-15 (13.3%) on jumpers.

“Just being patient with it,” Lakers summer league coach Dane Johnson said about Knecht’s struggles. “It’s a long summer league. It’s going to come. He’s a great player, so I’m not worried about him missing some of the shots he’s taking. He’s a great shooter. Let the game come to him. There are some [flashes] where you see that he’s got it.”

Knecht’s shooting struggles could be as simple as just shots not falling. In his final collegiate season at Tennessee, Knecht became an All-American in large part due to his incredible shotmaking, en route to averaging 21.7 points per game. Knecht was elite on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers (42.3% per Synergy) and hit his lone shot from distance in that exact way.

“I haven’t played since March,” Knecht said. “Just finding my rhythm again and keep playing with these new guys and keep adjusting. … Shooters shoot. My dad always told me the next shot is going in. Shooters shoot.”

The No. 17 overall pick from the 2024 NBA Draft out of Tennessee was a consensus top-10 pick in the weeks and days leading up to the draft before sliding out of the lottery on draft night. The Lakers have yet to make a roster acquisition via free agency or trade, which could open the door for Knecht to be an immediate contributor in the rotation for first-year head coach JJ Redick.

Another positive development from both of Knecht’s outings is his ability to put pressure on the defense at the rim – which helped him get to the free throw line 14 times in two games. Knecht is 4-of-8 on shots at the rim and the highlight of the night against the Warriors was a cut through the middle of the lane for a two-hand flush with multiple defenders in the vicinity.

The Lakers will play one final game in the California Classic against the Miami Heat on Wednesday before departing to Las Vegas for the second-leg of summer league.

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