So, the Lakers didn’t get into the top three of the 2014 draft… It was a complete shock for every Lakers fan who probably shouted and screamed at the top of their lungs at their TV’s because I know I did, but it’s not the end of the world for the Lakers and Lakers Nation. They still possess the power to pick a really good player. The big question until draft day will be who should the Lakers draft? Obviously it won’t be Wiggins, Parker or Embiid, but that makes it more interesting.
The NBA may have saved the Lakers… How you ask? The NBA probably slotted the Lakers in the 7th spot instead of giving them a top three pick in fear of them drafting Kansas Jayhawks big man Joel Embiid. The Lakers have this fascination with big men for some odd reason still, even though the NBA is clearly dominated by point guards and wing players now. Don’t get me wrong Embiid is a solid prospect, but he has health issues already. That is the last thing that the Lakers needed is another injured big man or player for that matter. The Lakers find themselves with the 7th pick and it may not be a bad spot to be in. They will draft a player who will have something to prove, and may have a chip on their shoulder, feeling that they were more deserving to be in the top 3. Don’t get it twisted there will be talented players still available with the 7th pick.
The decision of who to draft will be a tricky one for the Lakers, who have a need at almost every position. They could go with a power forward or a point guard. If you look at the western conference, there is nothing but a litter of great point guards, and none of them play for the Lakers (sorry Steve Nash). Solid big men are also a rare commodity in the league as well, even though it’s clearly a guard driven league now. It begs the question, who should the Lakers draft with their 7th and only pick this year? There are four players who can instantly contribute to the Lakers right away, and have the potential to be perhaps be superstars.
How about Marcus Smart (PG/SG)? He’s a tough point guard with a competitive edge, who Kobe would love to have, and he’s built like a running back! At 6’4 and 227 pounds, he would give the Lakers that tough gritty player, who would challenge the likes of Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard, and Chris Paul on a nightly basis. He has the ability to score and be a facilitator, and more importantly brings leadership. If he’s left on the board for the taking, the Lakers shouldn’t pass up on this guy because his potential is extremely high.
What about Julius Randle (PF)? Randle has a similar game to Memphis Grizzlies Power Forward Zach Randolph for the fact that they can give opposing big men problems. He’s a low post nightmare who outworks his opponents for every rebound both offensively and defensively. He has a low post game that is still kind of raw, but he has also expressed interest in playing alongside Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. At 6’9, Randle could be a very good pick up for the Lakers if Pau Gasol leaves.
Next is Aaron Gordon (PF)… Gordon is another guy who could easily help the Lakers right now. At 6’9 he’s an amazing athlete who may turn into the next Blake Griffin. He has ridiculous speed and is able to touch the top of the square on the back board! His game is still kind of raw, but his potential could put him in the superstar category as well. The Lakers will have to take a hard look into Gordon because his intangibles are so unique.
Finally, Zach LaVine (PG/SG)… I know, picking him at 7 may seem a bit risky, but this kid has also showed that he may have superstar potential as well. LaVine is bit inconsistent, but he has shown no mercy in recent NBA workouts leaving scouts in aww with his athleticism and ability to score. He’s already a great shooter and possesses the ball handling skills that will make him into an instant play maker. I may be crazy, but I see a similarity to Russell Westbrook, minus the attitude, and weird style.
These guys are obviously not Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker or Joel Embiid, but they can help the Lakers right away and are solid building blocks. To be honest, these guys that are listed as good fits could easily be top three picks any other year. The main thing is that the Lakers take their time when evaluating these prospects because they are in dire need of a young player who could also inject a shot of excitement into the franchise again.
Expectations will always be high for the Lakers, but the expectations for making the right decision with this once in a blue moon lottery pick are even greater. The team can’t afford to whiff on their 7th pick, it’s important that they draft the right guy.
The NBA and perhaps the basketball gods didn’t give the Lakers the pick they wanted, but sometimes the consolation prize is the better choice. For the Lakers, they need to end their string of bad luck, and it starts with drafting the right guy. That is probably why the 7th pick is the right spot for the Los Angeles Lakers.