As the season winds down, it's looking more and more likely the Lakers will be in the top four teams in terms of lottery standings; although beating the Sixers - who are at three at the moment - did not help in any regard. Six of their remaining 14 games are against Western Conference teams currently in the playoff hunt. At the going rate, the Lakers should be able to land - and keep - one of the top 5 pick in the upcoming NBA draft.
With that in mind, I wanted to take a look at what the Lakers might do with a top 5 pick.
- If they keep the pick, they'll have their choice of Jahlil Okafor (Duke), Karl-Anthony Towns (Kentucky), D'Angelo Russell (Ohio St.), Emmanuel Mudiay. Experts have pegged the Lakers drafting Okafor is many mocks in which they end up with a top 2 pick. Obviously you can't go wrong with this pick but it's not an ideal fit for the Lakers. The Lakers have a number of needs in their line-up, particularly at center, small forward, and shooting guard; as big a homer as I am when it comes to Kobe Bryant, the truth of the matter is that the team needs a capable replacement once - and, frankly, before - his career is in the books.
The Lakers are fresh off drafting big man Julius Randle. Despite his rookie year lost due to a leg injury, the hope - and expectation - is that Randle will come back and be that cornerstone player for them. Drafting either of those top two big men could help bolster their frontcourt. Okafor looks the part of a good NBA center; and though my knowledge of Towns' game is limited to ESPN highlights, the reviews on him are definitely positive.
You can't go wrong, is what I'm getting at, but that leaves much to be desired in the backcourt; because we all know how point guard-driven the NBA is. For as well as Jordan Clarkson has played and developed this season, he's not a proven commodity and that's something that the Lakers have whiffed on lately. With all due respect to recently retired, Steve Nash, he came on as a Laker a couple years too late. Injuries didn't help either; and while not getting Chris Paul wasn't our doing, that set us back even worse with the way things played out in the aftermath.
Yes, I'm still bitter about that trade-not-trade.
That said, the future looks bright with Clarkson so long as he continues to grow and gain more experience.
- There's also always the possibility the Lakers try to trade the pick for some proven talent. There's obvious risk in this move, as the player we get in return doesn't pan out and/or is past their prime, which would, again, set up back in the "rebuilding" process. However, rumblings out of the NBA have OKC's Kevin Durant possibly being available for trade in the near future. It would be difficult to facilitate a deal for Durant with the lack of assets we have, but if the Lakers were to get lucky and land a top-3 pick, it isn't out of the realm of possibility. Durant in a Lakers uniform would create quite a pairing with still-a-little-left-in-the-tank Kobe Bryant.
A man can dream.
Unlikely a scenario as it may seem, one thing is clear: the Lakers have a great opportunity in front of them it would behoove Jim Buss and brass to consider all their options.
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