After landing the second overall pick during the NBA Draft Lottery, the Los Angeles Lakers found themselves in good position to accelerate their rebuilding plans. The team brought in Emmanuel Mudiay, Jahlil Okafor, Kristaps Porzingis, and D’Angelo Russell for workouts in the weeks prior to Tuesday’s draft.
Coming into the draft, many draft experts expected the Lakers to take one of the bigs with a chance of the team selecting one of the guards. With their selection, the Lakers decided to take a guard with their pick and drafted Russell to give themselves one the best playmakers and shooters in the draft.
In his lone season at Ohio State, Russell averaged 19.3 points, 5.0 assists, 5.7 rebounds in 33.9 minutes while leading his team into the NCAA Tournament. A year ago, Russell wasn’t considered to be among the top professional prospects but his stock rose quickly with his improved play.
Russell joins NBA All-Rookie First Team selection Jordan Clarkson in a young and talented backcourt for the Lakers. Clarkson spent most of his time last season playing point guard, but could also play off the ball more with Russell facilitating more.
The Lakers still own the No. 27 and 34 picks in the draft and will now strategize their plans with those selections. Trading one or both of them isn’t out of the question as they Lakers also begin to have a clearer direction of where to take their team.
Once the draft is over, the focus shifts towards free agency which opens up on July 1. The Lakers figure to be important players with their ample cap space and could offer a max contract should they find someone worthy of the money.[divide]
D’Angelo Russell’s First Phone Conference With The LA Media