Report: Lakers had running joke about Jalen Hood-Schifino’s playstyle this season

Mike Battaglino
3 Min Read
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Jalen Hood-Schifino did not contribute very much to the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2023-24 NBA season, but when the rookie was on the court, he did make an impression, and the team had some fun talking about his playing style.

“One kind of running joke internally was that he was just gunnin’ when he was out there in blowout situations,” Lakers insider Jovan Buha said of Hood-Schifino. “He was just looking to shoot, and I think sometimes kind of plays with blinders on, and he needs to address that.”

The 20-year-old got into 21 regular season games for the Lakers, averaging 1.6 points and less than one rebound and one assist per appearance. Playing about five minutes per contest, he averaged a little more than two field-goal attempts per game, making just 22.2 percent.

He had just one double-digit scoring game, netting 10 points in late November in his second NBA appearance. His last game for the Lakers was in early March.

Hood-Schifino put up much better statistics in 15 G League games with the South Bay Lakers, averaging 22.0 points per game on 47.3 percent field-goal shooting. He played more than 35 minutes per game and hoisted an average of more than 14 shots per contest.

Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka reportedly overruled the team’s scouts to pick Hood-Schifino with the No. 17 overall selection in the 2023 NBA Draft. The Indiana University product reportedly was seen as a possible replacement for Austin Reaves, who at the time had not yet re-signed to stay.

Los Angeles reportedly was targeting University of Michigan product Kobe Bufkin, but he was selected two slots earlier by the Atlanta Hawks. The selection of Hood-Schifino later drew some criticism when three players drafted immediately after him — Jaime Jaquez Jr. (No. 18 by the Miami Heat), Brandin Podziemski (No. 19 by the Golden State Warriors) and Cam Whitmore (No. 20 by the Houston Rockets) — were making significant contributions to their teams at the NBA level.

However, new opportunities should arise for Hood-Schifino and others after the Lakers fired head coach Darvin Ham following a first-round exit from the 2024 NBA Playoffs at the hands of the Denver Nuggets. The roster also is likely to be in flux during what promises to be another busy offseason.

So, it might still all work out for the Lakers and Hood-Schifino, especially if he can build on his impressive stint in the G League and carry that into the NBA.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has focused on New York sports. He has covered the NBA and NFL for almost three decades and is still waiting for the next championship for the Knicks and Jets.