The basketball gods smiled on the city of Los Angeles during the Draft Lottery, awarding the beleaguered Lakers the second pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. It was a moment of relief for the Lakers organization and their legion of fans, who had been nervously awaiting the moment when they would find out whether or not they would retain their pick.
Los Angeles would have had to send their selection to the Philadelphia 76ers had it fallen outside the top three as a result of the Steve Nash trade. The Lakers finished the 2015-2016 NBA season with the second-worst record in the league, which resulted in a 55.8 percent chance to keep their pick heading into the lottery.
When the ping pong balls finally settled the Lakers were relieved to discover that they had stayed in their draft slot and will have the second overall pick for the second year in a row. The team will be somewhat at the mercy of the Philadelphia 76ers, who have the top selection.
Fortunately, the draft is considered to be two players deep at the top this year, with both Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram being able to make a solid case for being the best prospect available. Assuming the Lakers hang onto the pick rather than trade it, their decision is essentially made for them, as they will almost certainly select whichever one of the two isn’t taken with the first pick.
For the second straight year, the Lakers will pick second
— Lakers Nation (@LakersNation) May 18, 2016
Each player offers vastly different pros and cons. Simmons has long been considered the top prospect in this draft class, but his lack of an outside shot creates questions about how well he would fit in Luke Walton’s offense. Factor in that he plays power forward, the same position as Lakers building block Julius Randle, and it’s clear that there are some real drawbacks that come along with the Australian’s massive potential.
Still, his passing and ball handling skills would be a welcome addition if he ends up sliding to the second selection.
Ingram, on the other hand, is about as perfect of a fit as one could imagine. Long and lanky with an effective outside shot, the former Blue Devil would organically slot into the small forward slot vacated by the retiring Kobe Bryant. He may not have quite as much upside as Simmons, but he spent the college season proving himself to be a real alternative for the number one pick. Add in the fact that Ingram is over a year younger than Simmons, and one can see why the Lakers should be just as thrilled if he is the one that ends up falling to them.
Either way, the Lakers will have the opportunity to add an intriguing prospect to their young team in June. For an organization that just suffered through a franchise-worst 17 win season, the draft lottery result brings hope for a brighter future.