The NBA Draft lottery is less than a week away with the fate of the Los Angeles Lakers’ top-five protected pick hanging in the balance. There’s an 82.8 percent chance of the team keeping their lottery pick with plenty of talented young players to choose from on draft day (June 25) if all goes well on May 19.
With the Lakers having a 35.1 percent chance of landing the fifth overall pick, the options become a bit more limited for the storied franchise. One option for the Lakers will be Los Angeles native Stanley Johnson.
The Arizona Wildcats product is well aware of his chances of wearing purple and gold to start his NBA career and is clearly excited about the prospect. Johnson has a few ties to the Lakers organization and would love to be playing alongside Kobe Bryant next season, via Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com:
“I’m as open to them as any team there is here,” Johnson said, insisting he won’t campaign the Lakers to take him if they do keep the pick. “Obviously with them, I’m from L.A. They’re my favorite team growing up. Kobe Bryant is one of my favorite players to ever play the game. Being with Mike when he was with the Lakers, I’ve kind of seen a lot of the front-office personnel and stuff like that. They know. Obviously it’d be awesome to come home, but, as I said before, this is a business. It’s not just about what I want to do.”
The Lakers are in desperate need of an upgrade at the small forward position and Johnson would fit the bill if drafted by Los Angeles. Although it remains to be seen if Johnson can transcend his game on the next level, the Wildcats star will definitely get consideration from Los Angeles if the team falls out of the top four.
Other notable draft prospects the Lakers will likely consider if they end up with the fifth overall pick on June 25 include Justise Winslow (Duke), Willie Cauley-Stein (Kentucky) and Mario Hezonja (Barcelona).
It could come down to Winslow and Johnson on draft day. The Lakers will evaluate both players to determine which one is the better prospect at small forward. Cauley-Stein is another intriguing option if the team wants to bring in a talented center and former Kentucky teammate of last year’s lottery pick, Julius Randle.
Lakers Nation’s 2015 NBA Draft Odds Podcast