NBA Draft Outlook: Los Angeles Lakers
When LeBron James took his talents to Long Beach last July, it was believed the Lakers would return to glory. Nine months and a plethora of injuries later, Los Angeles currently sits at 11th in the pre-lottery draft, ending the season with a demoralizing 37-45 record.
The focus has turned to the offseason; the Lakers will attempt to sway a number of top-tier free agents including Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, and others. Regardless of those respective successes, LA still possess a pick in the lottery. For the sake of this outlook, let’s assume they will have the 11th overall pick.
Key Returners: LeBron James, Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Mo Wagner, Josh Hart
Notable Free Agents: Rajon Rondo, Tyson Chandler, Reggie Bullock, Alex Caruso, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
Draft Selection: 11th overall (pre-lottery)
Team Needs: perimeter shooting, big man, backcourt depth
Bol Bol - Center, Oregon
Freshman stats: 21.0 PPG (56.1 FG%), 9.6 RPG, 2.7 BPG
Despite only appearing in just nine games before sustaining a season-ending foot injury, Bol was able to immediately turn heads. Questions regarding his body and strength were put on the back-burner as the 7-foot-2 center consistently displayed how skilled he was on both sides on the floor. Offensively, his handles are second-to-none in terms of size and he shot the deep ball at a staggering 52 percent from three despite only 2.8 attempts per contest.
For the Lakers, he could check off many boxes. There is an obvious risk when taking Bol, but the potential reward is astronomical. Wagner and Isaac Bonga are projected to have more distinguished roles in the future, but the Oregon freshman would be an upgrade and provide depth for their lacking frontcourt. His ability to run the floor and serve as an immediate rim protector will help him see playing time early as he continues to add weight and muscle; the potential three-level scoring that Bol possesses makes this pick both appealing and justified.
Coby White - Guard, North Carolina
Freshman stats: 16.1 PPG (35.2 3PT%), 4.1 APG
The all-time leading high school scorer in the state of North Carolina, Coby White had somewhat of a rough transition into college ball, but quickly began to pick it up. In conference play, White was one of the main reason for UNC’s success.
A solid scorer at all three levels, he can get to the basket, score in transition, and knock down the deep ball with some consistency. He still needs to improve his decision making and become more patient and composed on offense, but the tools are there.
Is Lonzo Ball apart of the future going forward in LA? I know that seems silly to even ask, but with the rumors hinting at turmoil, it’s still justified. Regardless, the 6-foot-5 White could primarily serve as a scoring guard, alongside the likes of Ball. Whether or not he develops into a point guard or not at the next level is yet to be seen, but his perimeter shooting and overall scoring repertoire would give the Lakers a much-needed boost. Also, he automatically brings desired depth and athleticism to the backcourt.
Romeo Langford- Guard, Indiana
Freshman stats: 16.5 PPG, 5.4 RPG
Taking Langford this high would be somewhat of a risk, but the potential is there. This season was quite a roller coaster for the freshman, with a few more downs than ups.
Revered for his ability to knock down the deep ball, Langford shot a mere 27.2 percent from behind-the-arc this season. Scouts hope that the 2018-19 campaign was just an outlier. However, it was not all bad; Langford often displayed his trademark craftiness and feel for the game on the offensive end. He needs to become more engaged defensively, but possesses all of the physical tools to be a quality defender.
Langford’s versatility and playmaking ability would allow the Lakers to play him off the ball or at point guard. At 6-foot-6, the all-star potential he possesses may outweigh the possible growing pains that would result from drafting him. Not only does Langford give the Lakers some needed backcourt depth, but it also supplies them with a possible backup point guard.