Julius Randle Coupled With Lottery Pick A Positive For L.A. Lakers’ Future


The Los Angeles Lakers won against the Philadelphia 76ers, and still hold the fourth worst record in the NBA. This gives them an 82-percent chance to retain their top-five pick and an 11.9-percent chance of landing the number one pick in the draft lottery, which will take place in May. However, let us not forget that if the Lakers do not end up in the top five, they will forfeit their pick to Philadelphia as the Suns traded it at the deadline.

The significance of the top five pick is of extreme importance to the Lakers as it could help in the rebuilding process. Depending on where the Lakers land in the top five (if chance is on their side), they will be able to pick from the best college prospects. Such players include Jahlil Okafor, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, Stanley Johnson, and Emmanuel Mudiay who played in China.

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For argument’s sake, let’s briefly look at each of the above-mentioned prospects and identify what each player can bring to the Lakers.

Jahlil Okafor has been a dominant force for the Duke Blue Devils in the regular season, averaging 17.7 points and nine rebounds. Even though he has increased his scoring average to 23.5 points during the NCAA tournament, his rebounding numbers are down to 4.5 rebounds. He has a polished, skilled back-to-the-basket game and his big body allows him to attract double teams in the post and open up shooters. However, he lacks in defensive prowess as illustrated by his 1.4 blocks per game and he is not a strong rebounder for his size. Despite his lack of defense, he has the skillset to dominate offensively but will have to improve his athleticism in order to truly make an impact on both ends of the floor at the NBA level.

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  • Karl Anthony-Towns from Kentucky is the next prospect on our list. He is not as gifted offensively as Okafor, but is a much better athlete and his defense is his strong suit. He averages 10 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game. Despite his limited offensive game, he can still be a scorer as shown by his 21 points against Hampton in the NCAA tournament. He would be a nice fit next to Julius Randle and he would give the Lakers the rim protector they sorely desire and some much needed defense.

    D’Angelo Russell is a combo guard from Ohio State who averages 19.3 points and 5.3 assists. Those numbers show that Russell is more of a shooting guard but has the potential to develop into the lead guard position at the NBA level. His 6-foot-9 wingspan allows him to be a capable defender by disrupting passing lanes and shots. He is a decent shooter from three-point range, averaging 41.5-percent over the year. The question, however, is how long will it take Russell to become effective and productive at the point-guard position in the NBA? On the other hand, he can bring to the Lakers his scoring prowess off the bench, which could take the pressure off Kobe Bryant.

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    Stanley Johnson from Arizona is the only small forward on this list. He averaged 14 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 1.5 steals. His Wildcats just knocked off Russell’s Ohio State out of NCAA contention. NBAdraft.net compares him to former Laker, Metta World Peace. Johnson has the body of a football player and has shown throughout the regular season that his defense is his strong suit. The Lakers would benefit from having Johnson on the roster as they lack depth at small forward, as the only healthy SF at the moment is Wesley Johnson. It is also worth noting that Stanley Johnson played power forward in high school, which shows his versatility according to 247sports.com.

    Emmanuel Mudiay decided to forego college and went to play professionally in China. It is a shame that fans didn’t get a chance to watch Mudiay showcase his talents as he looks to be a bright prospect. Mudiay only played 12 games out of a possible 38 in the Chinese Basketball Association. Before his injury, he averaged 17.7 points, six rebounds, and six assists. These numbers put him as one of the top guards in the draft. He has great speed, athleticism, and size as he is listed at 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds. His overall field-goal percentage is good, standing at 47-percent but needs to work on his three-point shooting (34%). Mudiay would be a good pick-up for the Lakers as the franchise could look to build around a young guard along with Julius Randle.

    He would be a nice fit next to Julius Randle…

    The Lakers are in need of depth at every position and the players mentioned above would each help fill part of the void. Until the May 19 draft lottery, fans can only wait until the end of the season and hope that the lottery will be kind to the Lakers organization.

    The Lakers will start their five game road trip Tuesday against the Oklahoma City Thunder and will end it on Monday in Philadelphia. Monday will signify the second and last meeting between the Lakers and 76ers, and could prove to be crucial for the lottery race.