To put it ironically, it was rather a dry season in Laker land this year. Instead of the usual, powerhouse and tenacious, Kobe led Lakers fans are accustomed to seeing. That joy was was substituted with the hopeless scene of Kobe crippled on the bench, loss after agonizing loss, building resentment for Coach Mike D’antoni, and brief flashes of greatness from Nick Young, or better known for his comical, but catchy nickname, Swaggy P. Lakers are going to have to have a smart draft if they plan on competing in the wild wild west next year. Luckily for them they have a pretty high pick sitting at the number 7 spot. However, they don’t have anymore after that.
There’s rumors of the Lakers trying to trade up in the draft however, I don’t see that happening considering the Lakers have nothing short of appetizers to satisfy any of the teams probable “entree” driven mentality that pick ahead of them in regards to trading down. I believe these are the 2 best options for the Lakers.
Draft Marcus Smart out of Oklahoma State. This gives LA an absurdly colossal point guard at 6’3 and 230 lbs who can handle, facilitate, score, and most importantly, defend. Even though Steve Nash said he’s coming back next year, there is no one who can put any faith in Nash’s health. There’s also no player on the Lakers roster other than Jordan Farmar, who also had some health issues, who has proved he can run an offense to some effective capacity. The Lakers also have to take into account the many great, but smaller point guards that play in the western conference. Drafting Smart gives them a rangy defender and also a mismatch if the Lakers choose to exploit that size difference with the smaller defenders. I believe Smart will mesh well with Kobe because he plays with fierceness and passion, which Kobe will love. Some knocks on Smart is that he’s not a great shooter and his decision making is questionable. He doesn’t necessarily have to be a high percentage shooter to be a facilitator at the point and the poor decision making can be nullified as he will continue to learn the game. A backcourt with Smart and Bryant can give Laker fans some optimism heading into next season.
The Lakers get back to the formula that won Kobe his last 2 rings by being overpowering bullies in the paint. The Lakers draft forward Julius Randle out of Kentucky. This will give the Lakers a legitimate inside scoring threat that can compliment the energy of Jordan Hill if the Lakers decide to retain him and part ways with Pau Gasol. Randle is a tank on the inside, surprisingly quick, and is pretty difficult to keep away from the rim. In addition, Randle possesses an inside post game that many college big men rarely have coming out of college, especially this young. Ask Blake Griffin and Dwight Howard how hard it is to develop a thorough inside post game. The biggest risk with this pick is the issue of Randle’s foot, who reportedly said is fine, is something the Lakers will have to take into consideration. Though he would miss some time from the off-season before his rookie campaign if he has surgery, however, I feel in the long run it would be strong pick. The knocks on Randle are that he is a little on the diminutive side for an NBA big man, but he is 250 (will probably add 10-15 more pounds) and has a wingspan of 7’0. So I believe he’ll be just fine in that area. The only 2 areas of his game I feel need the most work is defensively, he tends to reach from time to time, and to develop a mid-range game that can help space the floor. My NBA comparison for Randle is that he’s a more athletic prototype of Zach Randolph. If he turns out to become anything Z-Bo is the Lakers will be happy with that pick. In my perfect scenario the Lakers are able to get Greg Monroe in free agency if Detroit can’t bring him back and sign Shaun Livingston to handle the point guard duties. Now tell me Kobe wouldn’t salivate having Monroe and Randle on the blocks.
~ Jordan Davis (@OGBarryBonds)