The 2014 NBA Draft has concluded and the Los Angeles Lakers made their lottery pick, selecting Julius Randle seventh overall. They also aggressively reached out and acquired a second round pick in Jordan Clarkson from Missouri. There was no trade for Kevin Love. There was no trade for Klay Thompson. There was no trade for Michael Carter-Williams. There were no fancy moves at all by Mitch Kupchak to acquire a superstar in exchange for the Lakers’ first round pick.
Realistically, no team was going to trade a top echelon star to the Lakers AND give up a first round pick in an above-average draft class. Welcome to the business of the NBA, folks. This isn’t a video game. GMs (for the most part) got to the position of general manager for a reason. And, it wasn’t because they were adept at making video game/fantasy basketball deals.
Sorry to burst your bubble if you were majorly let down that the Lakers didn’t pull a rabbit out of a hat. (Broken down) Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant (fresh off of a serious knee injury), and part-time cheerleader, towel-twirling extraordinaire, Robert Sacre…..oh, and no head coach…that’s what we’ve got to work with, Lakers fans. That’s our reality now.
In regards to the Lakers’ draft grades and observations thereof, the Lakers earned a solid A- grade. Not to toot my own horn (and as I sarcastically say that, allow me to provide the link where I still mean not to toot my own horn—Lakers Should Draft Julius Randle) a certain writer called for Julius Randle to land in Laker land. And it has come to pass!
While Randle may not be the flashiest of prospects, he’s quite possibly the steal of the NBA draft lottery. The Lakers showed that they are still fully competent in securing franchise cornerstone players by drafting Randle. While ‘undersized’, as labeled by many, this kid is a ball of fire. Julius Randle is an animal on the glass, he’s good in the locker room, he’s an unselfish player, he’s athletic, has good basketball IQ, and is an all-around gamer down low. Randle has the intangibles that many Lakers fans always wished that we could have seen out of Pau Gasol. He has a killer instinct. He can be mean. There are no soft spots in Randle’s heart and competitive nature. The Lakers selected a winner in Randle. Furthermore, he’s a team player. Things happen around Randle when he is on the court. He gets his players involved. So there will be no standing around just to see what Kobe does or confusion once Randle figures things out at the NBA level. He will be all dialed in. Mr. Double-Double will be a force in Los Angeles for years to come. Quite probably an essential part of the future of the Lakers franchise.
In the second round, the Washington Wizards selected Jordan Clarkson from the University of Missouri, then traded him to the Lakers. The 2nd team All-SEC player was converted from shooting guard to point guard almost mid-season during his last year in school. Clarkson isn’t exactly an elite guard, but he is very capable of attacking the rim. He has a slashing style and a near NBA body at 6’5, 190 pounds. The cons to Clarkson’s game are that he needs improvement on dribbling with his left hand and his passing skills definitely need to be polished. Although, that shouldn’t be much an issue when you are going to be tutored by one of the top 15 point guards of all-time in Steve Nash. Clarkson is MEAN driving to the rack. And, Laker fans, if given the chance, will definitely see excitement in a highlight driven player like Clarkson. Draft grade- B-
For the first time in a near decade the Lakers actually have made good on their NBA draft picks. Since 2005 (Andrew Bynum), the Lakers have largely drafted players who have minimum impact. In this draft, L.A. has shown more of a sense of urgency to go out and draft players who can make an immediate impact. Although the Lakers would have certainly loved to have gotten a more seasoned point guard who is NBA ready, the Lakers worked with what they had and acquired a prospect that slipped out of the first round who is more of a combo guard, but has a lot of potential.
Overall, the Los Angeles Lakers executed a solid plan in the draft. Their draft grade is an A-. Julius Randle is going to be great in the NBA. Although the league is largely point guard driven, it also is big on forwards. A player like Randle is absolutely ready to compete with the Dirks, Blake Griffins, and Lamarcus Aldridges of the league. Big props to the Lakers for standing still and drafting a player who can lead and be an essential part of the successful future of the L.A. Lakers.