The Los Angeles Lakers have begun their pre-draft workouts in preparation for next month’s NBA Draft. The Lakers are fortunate enough to have three selections, two of which are in the first round. Having the 27th and 34th overall picks to go along with the second pick opens up a number of possibilities for the team.
The Lakers could, of course, stay put with all of their picks. General Manager Mitch Kupchak, however, has said that it may be tough for the Lakers to bring in three rookies next season, which will lead many to believe that some kind of move is on the horizon.
If the Lakers want to keep their pick, but don’t want to bring in too many young players immediately, they could draft an international player and leave him overseas for a year or two. Players like Manu Ginobili, Jonas Valanciunas, and Nikola Mirotic have all made marks after being left overseas for some time.
If the Lakers see someone they like falling to the early 20s, they could package the 27th and 34th picks to move up. They could also trade away any of their picks for future assets or a player they believe can help the team next year. The likelihood of the Lakers trading the second pick, however, seems slim as Kupchak made it clear that it would take a big-time deal for that to happen.
With so many possibilities, we asked our panel of experts what they believe the Lakers will do with all three of their draft picks. This is what they had to say:
Kevin Chan (@Kevin_Cruiser): Life after Kobe has already begun and the Lakers need to retool their roster for the future. The front office has been planning for this off-season by making cap space available.
Another welcome surprise for the front office was winning the second overall pick in the draft lottery. It’s seems like a near certainty that the Lakers will draft a big man with the number two pick. And I think it’s likely that they bring in two other promising young prospects with the 27th and 34th picks.
I could see them packaging the 27th and 34th pick to move up in the draft if they really have their eye on a particular player as the Lakers roster is in full-on rebuild mode. In order to rejuvenate the roster, they definitely need to draft well. It’s key for the Lakers to bring in some promising young rookies and get them meaningful experience next year.
The front office needs to draft well with their later round picks and find someone that can contribute – just like they did this year in drafting Jordan Clarkson at 46th overall. There are holes all over the roster so they should really just take the best prospects available. Hopefully the Lakers front office drafts well this off-season as it could very well determine the near-term and long-term future of the team.
Corey Hansford (@TheeCoreyH): Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak has made it pretty clear that the Lakers will be exploring all avenues to improve the team next season. I don’t think there is any way the Lakers don’t keep the second pick. The other two picks are another story.
Personally, I would love for the Lakers to package those picks to move up for either Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who would be the defender the team has lacked, or R.J. Hunter, one of the best shooters in the draft. The Lakers will surely explore the possibility of moving up, but ultimately I feel like the team will be unable to pull off a deal.
With Kupchak’s recent comments about bringing in three players fresh on my mind, I think the Lakers will wind up drafting an international player and stashing him overseas with one of their other picks.
George de Paula (potentially elite point guard), Aleksandar Vezenkov (lights-out shooter), and Mouhammadou Jaiteh (rim protection) could all fill needs for the Lakers with just a little more experience overseas. Obviously the Lakers are looking to make big improvements this year, but an international player could really make the difference for the future of the franchise.
The good news for the Lakers is that they have these options available to them. The front office has shown that they have an eye for talent and that will need to be the case again this year.
Russell Valenzuela (@RussVal4): What I think the Lakers will do and want I want them to do are two different things. Everyone wants to make their team better by getting the best talent they can land. General manager Mitch Kupchak has hinted towards not bringing on too many young players. As such, I see the Lakers trying to move up in the draft by trying to package their later draft picks.
In an ideal world, the Lakers would end up with a pick in the early 20s as opposed to the 27th and 34th they currently own. With it, the team could bring in someone the scouting staff believes could potentially fill in one of their holes, say a wing player with athleticism and defensive skills.
However, what I see eventually taking place is the team using one of their picks to take an international player they can keep overseas for at least another year. It would most likely be with their 27th pick. Meanwhile with their second rounder, the team takes someone whom they can sign with a non guaranteed contract if the player survives the summer and training camp.
Either way, the Lakers won’t be adding three players from the draft to next season’s roster. Free agency is still available for the team to complete the lineup and fill in remaining needs.
Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner): Recently, Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak admitted to the media that “it may be a little much” to add three more young players to the team’s roster. That being said, it seems clear the Lakers are already seriously considering trading one or both of their picks after the second overall selection.
Stashing a player overseas is also a legitimate option, but I believe the prospect of moving up in the draft might be much more appealing if possible.
In my opinion, Kupchak and company will try to package the 27th and 34th picks to move up in the first round. Los Angeles appears content in keeping their second overall pick to bring in Jahlil Okafor or Karl-Anthony Towns, but it’s a safe bet to assume they’ll try to move up in the first round by moving their two other picks in the draft.
It’s not out of the realm of possibility that the team dangles Jordan Hill or Nick Young as well as their picks in a trade to move up as high as possible in the first round. Hill’s fate will be sealed with the team more than likely intent on drafting a frontcourt player as well as potentially signing Kevin Love in free agency.
Lakers Nation Pre-Draft Workouts: Delon Wright