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Byron Scott explains why Lakers passed on drafting Kristaps Porzingis

NEW YORK -- The Los Angeles Lakers considered drafting Latvian forward Kristaps Porzingis this summer. They worked him out and came away impressed.

"I liked him because he’s athletic, can shoot the ball. From what we saw, he was able to shoot it from 3-point range pretty easily," Lakers coach Byron Scott said following practice at John Jay College here Saturday. "He’s a young kid that in the workouts that we had really didn’t show any fear."

There was a concern, though.

"[We] just thought it was going to take him some time [to develop]," Scott said.

Ultimately, the Lakers, who had the No. 2 overall pick in the 2015 draft, passed on Porzingis and drafted point guard D'Angelo Russell instead. Porzingis, meanwhile, was drafted fourth overall by the New York Knicks.

But after seeing how well Porzingis has looked early on this season, averaging 12.3 points and 8.3 rebounds, Scott said the notion that it would take time for him to develop wasn't entirely accurate.

"Obviously, we were probably a little wrong about that because he’s playing pretty well right now," Scott said.

The Lakers will face Porzingis and the Knicks on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

"Man, he's a good player," Scott said of Porzingis. "This kid has a hunger to be really good. The comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki because of his size and the way they can shoot the ball is pretty accurate, especially when Dirk first came on the scene. The kid is going to be really special one day."

Lakers star Kobe Bryant also was impressed by Porzingis.

"From what I’ve seen so far, he looks pretty damn good," Bryant said. "He’s skillful, he can do a lot of things. He seems to be very competitive, too. He has a good competitive spirit about him."