It's that time again. The time when we try to maintain hope in the Lakers managing the draft process well despite not reaping any concrete rewards from it for years. Of the Lakers' recent draftees, only Darius Morris holds any potential ...
It's that time again. The time when we try to maintain hope in the Lakers managing the draft process well despite not reaping any concrete rewards from it for years. Of the Lakers' recent draftees, only Darius Morris holds any potential of sticking on the roster past next season and that's only if he takes the next step in his development. Year after year, the Lakers have sacrificed their first rounders for established players such as Steve Nash and Ramon Sessions or just engaged in plain old cost cutting that has come back to bite them in the rear in the long-term. One would say that there's no time like the present to correct this misuse of one of the fundamental resources for talent in the league, but the team only possesses their own second rounder and a late one at that at number 48 to restock the incredibly shallow farm of young talent they currently have.
The good thing is that the Lakers aren't looking for a central building block and just need a piece around the periphery to supplement what will still likely be a top heavy roster next year. You can also mostly boil down the Lakers' needs to three things: youth, shooting, and athleticism. Thankfully, the draft provides prospects that meet most of those criteria but not all at the same time, lest they be safely out of the Lakers' range. Of those three, shooting probably is the most important aspect, not only because it's easier to find contributors in that department that late in the draft but since designated shooters have the largest chance of making an impact early in their career.
The source of the shooting isn't necessarily important; moving up position groups, however, increases the value of the shooting and the Lakers could especially benefit from a stretch four. Dwight Howard experienced the greatest success in his career with a floor spacing big alongside him and Dwight in turn can cover for the defensive deficiencies of his frontcourt counterpart. Pau Gasol similarly can operate well in a four-out, one-in system that gives him dominion over the low block. College ball has reciprocated in that regard, giving the Lakers several options in the second round for big men who can spread the floor. This noted, the Lakers need shooting period, so whomever is the best prospect is at their spot, they should take them, position group be damned.
Those familiar with the draft process in any sport are familiar with the concept of best player available (BPA) and it applies for the Lakers here as it does to all teams. It doesn't mean that needs are irrelevant -- hence why "tiers" are common in which case you have greater freedom than you would relying on a more dogmatic ranking system -- but that most of the time, you take the better prospect and worry about the ramifications later. If the best player on the board is a point guard, for instance? You take him and worry about the fit with Steve Nash, Steve Blake, and Darius Morris later than possibly reaching for someone else at the spot.
There are obvious caveats to this approach, of course. BPA is fine as a guiding principle but it should also be tempered with a healthy amount of common sense. The Lakers shouldn't take someone who can't shoot because of how poorly it would play out for that rookie's development on a team that needs spacing for its offense to work properly. Otherwise, the Lakers have few restrictions on whom they can pick and plug into their rotation if they pan out well enough. Future upside against immediate contributors is another discussion; however, when it comes down to it, the Lakers would probably be happy with a draft pick who can stick in the league at this point.
In terms of strict positional needs, the Lakers have holes basically everywhere besides point guard, where there's a logjam at the position that's likely to stay put next season, and center, seeing that they have possibly up to four guys who can man the position. Otherwise, they could definitely benefit from someone who can jump in and