For the first time in a long time, the Lakers will have a lottery pick in the NBA Draft. And they chose a good year, as the 2014 edition is one of the deepest in recent memory.
While the Lakers could go a number of ways in the draft, a particular position of need is point guard.
This era of the NBA is geared towards guards and there are a number of elite point guards in the league right now. Guys like Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook, Rajon Rondo, Stephen Curry, and Damian Lillard have given the Lakers fits.
This crop of prospects boasts a number of elite players at the position, all of whom bring something different. Marcus Smart is a physical specimen who excels on defense. Tyler Ennis is calm, steady, and a true floor general. Dante Exum is explosive and may have the highest potential of any draft pick.
Add to that guys like Zach LaVine, Elfrid Payton, and Shabazz Napier and there is no shortage of future point guards who could run the show for the Lakers. But the question is, who should the Lakers draft?
We asked our panel of experts, if you could draft one point guard for the Lakers, who would it be? This is what they had to say:
Kevin Chan (@kevin_cruiser): The popular choice will be Exum who is listed as a combo guard. I honestly don’t know much about Dante Exum who has never appeared in NCAA competition.
Exum only played high school ball in Australia which makes it tough to assess if he’s actually primed for NBA competition. I’m not trying to take anything away from Exum, but it’s hard to honestly evaluate him based on extrapolations and highlight reels (everyone looks great in highlight reels).
With that in mind, I think the safer choice would be Marcus Smart who could have been the number one overall pick a year ago if he opted to enter the 2013 NBA draft.
It’s crazy how quickly Smart’s hype has diminished since returning to college for his sophomore year. In his second NCAA season, Smart improved upon his freshman year and posted per game averages of 18 points, 4.8 assists, 4.5 boards and an eye popping 2.9 steals.
In my eyes Smart is like a mini-LeBron. He’s a versatile athletic freak who can do a little bit of everything on the court. Granted his offense, specifically his shooting, will require work, but that can be learned and refined through practice. However he’s already a tenacious defender which is something that is hard to teach.
I love that Smart gives maximum effort on both ends of the court. He’s also a great rebounder for a guard with his 6’8’’ wingspan. Additionally he has a muscular build weighing in at 225 pounds, but still possesses elite explosiveness.
Smart has all the physical tools to be successful in the league and he’s probably the most NBA ready point guard in this draft; I expect he would be able to contribute immediately from day one. Furthermore, he oozes upside, especially on the offensive end; if Smart refines his jumper, he could develop into a very scary player down the road. All these factors make Smart the best pick at point guard in this years’ draft.
Corey Hansford (@TheeCoreyH): The point guard position is the dominant position in this day and age of the NBA, and it is time for the Lakers to get their guy for the future. I feel like I’m one of the few who still believes in this guy, but I would love for Marcus Smart to don the purple and gold.
Physically, Smart stacks up against the most athletic of point guards. At 6’4 and 225 pounds, he can go head to head with the Westbrooks and Lillards of the world, which brings me to the next point. He is an absolute terror on defense.
Very few people take pride in locking down their opposition but Smart thrives in that role. He is fiery, passionate, and never takes a play off. He is the type of person who could really grow and thrive under the tutelage of Kobe Bryant.
Smart will need to get his jumper more consistent, and learn to control his emotions, but there are far more positives than negatives with Smart, and he would lead the Lakers for years to come.
Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner): Dante Exum. Potentially not a true point guard, but I believe Exum could ultimately be one of the best players in the upcoming 2014 NBA draft.
Exum has been compared to the likes of Michael Jordan, and that isn’t a comparison that many throw around lightly. The Australian phenom will likely have a score-first mentality and could ultimately become more of a shooting guard than a floor general, but if the Lakers have a chance to get him, it must happen in my opinion.
At 18 years old, Exum could eventually become the new face of the franchise while being mentored by Kobe Bryant over the next two years. It’ll be a gamble considering the talent level Exum is used to playing against in Australia, but he’s got the potential and the right situation to become a great player in Los Angeles.
MY NBA Draft.com: DANTE EXUM