While everyone is focused on the Lakers owning the second overall pick and the opportunity to draft either Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram, it is sometimes forgotten that the Lakers also own a second-round draft pick at number 32. And overlooking that pick would be a big mistake.
If there is one thing the Lakers have proven over the last couple of years it is that they can identify talent in the draft. Whether it is buying a draft pick to take Jordan Clarkson at number 46 in 2014, or shocking everyone by taking Larry Nance Jr. and number 27 in 2015, the Lakers get value in all of their draft picks.
Add in the fact that players such as Draymond Green, Hassan Whiteside, Chandler Parsons, and Khris Middleton have all been taken early in the second round in recent years and this pick could prove to add another building block to the franchise.
This year’s draft isn’t heavy on superstar-level talent, but it is extremely deep when it comes to potential role players and these players are all guys the Lakers should consider should they be available when the 32nd pick becomes available.
#10 Malachi Richardson, SG/SF, Syracuse
Another player with an extremely wide draft range, Richardson has been placed everywhere from the late lottery to the early second round. If he does indeed find himself available at number 32, the Lakers would be wise to jump on him.
Richardson burst onto the national scene in leading Syracuse to a surprise Final Four appearance. He has great size for a wing and outstanding length (7’0 wingspan) which aids him both offensively and defensively.
Offensively, Richardson has a ton of ways to put the ball in the basket from basically anywhere on the floor. He is good at attacking the basket as well and can make plays for himself and others when he gets to the paint. Defensively his length and quickness allow him to make an impact and get into passing lanes when he is engaged.
The worries for Richardson begin with his shot selection as he was a ball-stopping isolation player at Syracuse. He is just an average athlete, which led to a lot of contested shots. However, being on a team like the Lakers, with established playmakers would force him to focus on those other things which could be exactly what he needs to thrive.
#9 Zhou Qi, C/PF, China
Maybe the biggest risk/reward pick in this entire draft, Zhou Qi has an enormous amount of potential thanks to his unprecedented size, length, and skill set. But he also comes with some serious risks.
Standing over 7’2 with a nearly 7’8 wingspan, Zhou is a terror for opposing offenses down low as a shot-blocker, averaging 3.2 blocks in 34 minutes in the Chinese Basketball Association. But he isn’t a plodding, slow center, Zhou is an excellent athlete who runs the floor very well for his size.
He is also extremely skilled offensively, possessing great footwork in the post and a jumper that can stretch out to the three-point line. He is also a willing passer who knows how to make the right plays thanks to a high basketball IQ.
The major worry for Zhou is his frame as he weighed only 218 pounds at the Draft Combine. Not only is he relatively weak, but his motor is not consistent either a bad combination. If he can add some strength, however, his combination of shooting and rim protection would be ideal for the Lakers.
#8 Gary Payton II, PG, Oregon State
The Lakers badly need to improve their defense and it’s difficult to do that without someone who can be a lockdown defender on the perimeter. Enter the son of arguably the best perimeter defender in NBA history, Gary Payton II.
As a point guard, Payton displays only solid vision and playmaking skills. He also is just an average shooter who likely will never be elite from three-point range. He will likely be a solid offensive player, but it is on the other end where he will make all the difference.
Payton has the potential to be an elite defender at the next level. Though he is only 6’3 he has a 6’8 wingspan and is strong enough to defend just about any guard at the NBA level. He collects a lot of steals and even some blocks thanks to his outstanding athleticism and length. He is also one of the best rebounding guards in the country, averaging nearly eight per game.
As a 23 year old, his room for growth may not be as high as some others, but for a team in dire need of an improvement on the defensive side, there may not be a better choice.
#7 Dejounte Murray, PG, Washington
Dejounte Murray has one of the largest draft ranges of any prospect this year. Some see him as a potential top-10 prospect while others have him all the way in the second round.
Those who love him point to his size (6’5, 6’9 wingspan), offensive creativity and playmaking ability. He is great getting to the basket thanks to his ball-handling and has displayed solid vision when in the paint as well. Defensively he has great anticipation and comes up with a lot of steals by reading the passing lanes.
The concerns for Murray start with his jumper, however, as it needs major work. He also isn’t the most athletic player and tends to rely on his floater when he gets in the paint as he doesn’t have the strength to finish through contact. While he has flashed potential as a passer, he also turns the ball over a lot and didn’t give consistent effort on the defensive end.
Murray probably would have been better off staying for one more season, but if the Lakers can harness his obvious talents, he would give the team another versatile backcourt option.
#6 Patrick McCaw, SG, UNLV
Many may not know Patrick McCaw’s name just yet, but his stock has been rising for a little while now as a potential three-position menace on both ends of the floor at the next level.
Offensively, McCaw is pretty versatile, being able to do a little bit of everything both on and off the ball. His shooting is streaky, but improving, he can get to the basket, and is also a very solid passer when he gets in the paint. He is also great in transition pushing the ball up the floor and creating for himself or others.
Defensively he has the size and length (6’7, 6’10 wingspan) as well as the foot speed to guard multiple positions. His anticipation skills also allow him to come up with a ton of steals in the passing lanes.
He is still pretty thin (181 lbs.) which leads to him avoiding contact in the lane sometimes, but once he adds some muscle he could pose some serious problems for opponents on both ends.
#5 Thon Maker, PF/C, High School
One of the biggest mysteries of this draft class, and also a favorite among Lakers fans, Thon Maker has great potential to be a standout player, but also to be a potential bust as he makes the jump from high school to the NBA.
The positives on Maker are obvious. He is 7’1 with a 7’3 wingspan. He is a very good athlete who runs the floor well, has a great motor, and can be a force both on the boards and defensively as a shot blocker. He also shows plenty of offensive potential thanks to his ability to step out and hit jumpers and has potential three-point range.
The problems for Maker, however, are also pretty obvious. He needs to add a lot of strength as he is extremely skinny right now and can be pushed around. His basketball IQ and decision making also need to improve as he doesn’t yet have a great feel for the game.
If the Lakers were to go for Maker it would be a ‘swing for the fences’ type pick as they would be taking a major risk, but the reward could be great.
#4 Juan Hernangomez, SF/PF, Spain
A somewhat unknown international prospect, Hernangomez’s play in the Spanish ACB League (2nd best league in the World) has turned heads as he has been more productive at a similar age than future NBA players such as Nikola Mirotic, Ricky Rubio, Serge Ibaka, and Kristaps Porzingis.
Hernangomez is something of a tweener forward as he has the body type of a power forward, with a frame that can fill out, but plays more of a perimeter-based game and has the quickness to pull it off right now.
He is an aggressive player who excels at attacking the basket and drawing fouls while shooting nearly 36 percent from three-point range. He also has a great motor and is constantly flying around the court.
He will need to improve defensively as he lacks some basic fundamentals on that end and isn’t quite strong enough to deal with more physical power forwards. His decision-making on offense also needs work, but the combination of existing tools and potential makes him very intriguing.
#3 Cheick Diallo, PF/C, Kansas
Cheick Diallo was a highly touted freshman who missed the outset of last season due to eligibility issues and struggled to find a consistent spot in the rotation once he joined the Jayhawks. His physical tools and motor, however, make him stand out.
Diallo has the game of a center in the body of a power forward. He stands only 6’9 and weighs only 219 pounds so he needs to add some strength. But he makes up for it with a nearly 7’5 wingspan, great athleticism, and a non-stop motor.
He was one of the standouts of the 5-on-5 portion of the NBA Draft Combine thanks to his work on the boards and defensively as he proved to be an excellent shot-blocker as well. His skill-set is still a work in progress, but he showed improvement on his jumper as well.
In a world where big men are needed to chase around guards on the perimeter more than ever, Diallo is someone who fits that mold. He is extremely raw, but he is so scrappy that he could still make an impact while waiting on the rest of his game to catch up.
#2 DeAndre Bembry, SF, Saint Joseph’s
One of college basketball’s best all-around players, DeAndre Bembry can do a little bit of everything and that makes him a very good potential pick at 32.
Offensively, Bembry can do just about everything. He is quick and athletic who excels at getting to the basket. He can is effective both on and off the ball, and can also operate from the post. He is also an excellent passer who was among the leaders in assists per 40 minutes for wing players last season.
Bembry also has the foot speed, length, and anticipation to make an impact defensively, though his effort was inconsistent at times. That may have had to do with the fact that he was his team’s offensive playmaker and averaged 37 minutes per game.
The one major knock on Bembry is his jump shot. He must be more consistent, especially when pulling up off the dribble. If he improves that, he could be a steal in the second round.
#1 Malik Beasley, SG, Florida State
Malik Beasley is one of the more intriguing late-first/early-second round prospects as he showed himself to be a great scorer and shooter, while also being one of the best athletes in the draft.
Beasley averaged 15.6 points on 47.1 percent from the field and 38.7 percent from deep in arguably the best conference in the country, the ACC. He attacks the basket aggressively with an extremely quick first step, but his best attribute may be his defense.
His quickness and athleticism could allow him to guard as many as three positions at the next level. He is extremely focused and locked in when on the court, has a great work ethic and motor, and is constantly flying around the court.
There are some worries with Beasley in regards to his average size for the position (6’4 1/2, 6’7 wingspan) and his ability to create off the dribble consistently. But the Lakers have enough ball-dominant players already, meaning Beasley could fit right in around the Lakers other young talents while developing the rest of his game.