The complex and fascinating Lakers draft pick

Thanks to the Lottery, the Lakers surged to the 2nd overall pick. Who will they take?

I’m not actually making any predictions. I just want to point out how complex and fascinating the pick will be.

The pick will, in part, signal their plans for the future. Do they want to be a 4-out, ball-movement team? Or a 1990s-style inside-out team? Don’t laugh! The Grizzlies win lots of games with their 1990s-style game. The Cavs reverted to superstar isolation in the championship, and scared the Warriors with 2 consecutive wins. Many styles are possible.

Here’s what we know:

  • Jim Buss is on the clock. He promised a turnaround in 3 years. This will be year two. He needs help.
  • Byron Scott is coaching the Lakers. He is not sympathetic to current innovations.
  • Kobe will come back this year, then retire after the season.
  • The Lakers have chased top-shelf free agents for two summers, and come away empty handed.
  • This draft is deep, but may not have any superstars.

Given that, here are some scenarios:

If he only had more time!

Jim Buss is on the clock. He is stuck with Kobe and Byron next year. The obvious choice is Jalil Okafor. If Mitch K can backfill with two or three 3-and-D vets, the Lakers can contend for the 7-8 spot (alongside the Mavs, Pellies, and Suns).

Taking the long view.

The Porzingis kid could grow into the next Dirk Nowitzki. Or not. But imagine having the next next Dirk! The Lakers could switch to a 4-out, or 5-out system. As they say on the Mio commercial, “they could change everything.”

Stall for time.

Next summer, the Lakers will have windfall cap space. Kobe will be gone. Byron could be gone. For now, they should draft a great wing player, because wings are the future of the NBA. Frankly, off-guard is in critically short supply right now. Kobe will retire, leaving them with nothing. They will not see a pick this good for 20 years.

Trade down.

This never happens in the NBA. Never. I can’t recall the last time a top 10 pick was traded down. The cost/benefit of young guys is just too compelling.

If the Lakers want to stall for time, they could easily swap down to 5-6 and still get a quality wing in this draft. Recall this: in 2012, the Warriors drafted Harrison Barnes, Festus Ezeli, and Draymond Green, all on one night. That’s the kind of draft the Lakers could use.

Split the difference.

The Lakers could grab a wing this year, and backfill with 3-and-D vets, and pretend to chase the playoffs this year. Next year, they will still have cap space to chase a star, and the chance to make a coaching change (Thibs?!).

See you next week!