The Los Angeles Lakers were fortunate to retain their top-three protected pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, exiting the draft lottery with the second overall selection. Getting the second pick in this draft, in particular, appears to be fortuitous, as the consensus opinion is that there is a significant drop off in talent after LSU’s Ben Simmons and Duke’s Brandon Ingram are off the board.
With the Philadelphia 76ers rumored to be set on taking Simmons with the first overall pick, it seems to be all but a sure thing that Ingram will end up in Los Angeles. However, according to Steve Kyler of BasketballInsiders.com, that’s not the message that the Lakers are putting out there:
For whats its worth – Lakers telling agents they are not locked on anyone yet, and will draft the guy they feel fits https://t.co/jZIVOJdXfq
— Steve Kyler (@stevekylerNBA) June 12, 2016
Should the Lakers decide to go against the consensus, as they did last year when they selected D’Angelo Russell instead of Jahlil Okafor, there would be plenty of options available to them. The team recently worked out Cal forward Jaylen Brown, whose athleticism might be a good fit on the wing. They have taken a look at Kentucky big man Skal Labissiere, whose combination of rim protection and shooting ability make him an intriguing option. Next week, the Lakers plan to work out Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield.
If the Lakers decide that Ingram isn’t the player for them, they would likely look to make a trade rather than reach for one of the aforementioned players. It’s possible that another team will be willing to pay handsomely for the number two pick, and the Lakers could use assets acquired in a trade to jump-start their rebuild.
Of course, the most likely explanation for the information that Kyler is hearing is simply that the Lakers like to play things close to the vest and won’t reveal who they are picking until the draft. Even if they are completely sold on Ingram, who they worked out last week, the Lakers have no reason to tip their hand right now.