While the NBA draft is scheduled to happen much later than usual this year, NBA teams haven’t had the benefit of watching their potential draftees more because of coronavirus restrictions. With the NCAA championship being canceled in 2020, scouts have to rely on the results gleaned prior to the pandemic to make their picks. Still, by the 16th of October, all 30 teams will choose their favorite prospects and offer them a spot on an NBA roster.
Due to the rules of the draft which state that picks are distributed inversely to a team’s performance in the standings, the Lakers likely won’t get to sniff any top picks this year. This means saying goodbye to potential franchise players like Anthony Edwards and LaMelo Ball, who will likely end up on bad teams such as the Golden State Warriors or the Cleveland Cavaliers. But it also means they have a chance to pick out a diamond in the rough towards the end of the draft. The Lakers only own their first-round pick in this draft, which is estimated to fall around the 29th-30th spot depending on their final standing. Here’s who they might pick:
A feisty point guard out of Kansas, Devon Dotson could be a great back-up player for the Lakers thanks to his quickness and athleticism. Despite his relatively average height and weight, he showed that he could match burlier college players pound-for-pound, having a remarkable ability to finish at the rim through contact. He is also a good defender, who averaged 2.1 steals at Kansas by knowing how to anticipate passing lanes, a skill that generally translates seamlessly to the pro game.
Since the Lakers are projected to be among the favorites for this year’s NBA title as well as the next, according to sports betting pick sites like WSN.com, they will likely need players that can produce results immediately upon arrival into the league. In this regard, going with a college senior like Cassius Winston might be a wise move. With a few extra years of experience under his belt, Winston has shown steady progress in each of his years at Michigan State. In his last year, he shot a spectacular .432 on three-pointers, a sign of great marksmanship even with the NCAA’s shorter three-point line.
Gone are the days when international players were derided by NBA scouts for being “soft” or “unathletic”. These days, you can pretty much bet on at least a couple being picked in the first round of any NBA draft. With his impeccable playmaking skills and great court vision, Leandro Bolmaro looks set to follow in the footsteps of other international greats such as Ricky Rubio. Questions still remain about his shaky jumper, but if Bolmaro can make strides on that front he’d be a worthy addition to any NBA roster.
Robert Woodard II
A tall shooting guard out of Mississippi State, Robert Woodard II has been on scouts’ radars since high school. His freshman year in college was something of a disappointment, but he bounced back strongly in his second outing, averaging 11.4 points and 6.5 rebounds per game while showcasing a tantalizing two-way game. His improved jumper turned Woodard into a valuable floor spacer for the Bulldogs, something that could prove useful to the Lakers if they decide to go with him.
A breakout star for the Maryland Terrapins during his sophomore season, Jalen Smith has a deft shooting touch to go along with plenty of size and quickness. While his wiry frame could still stand to put on a few extra pounds, Smith has made strides toward becoming the kind of stretch 4 that NBA teams crave nowadays. His defense remains a question mark, but Jalen Smith has shown enough already in his two college seasons to be compared to the likes of Serge Ibaka and Kelly Olynk.
As you can see, there are quite a few quality players that the Lakers would do well to give a chance to in this upcoming draft. They’ll only have one shot to get it right, though, since their second-round draft pick was ceded to the Philadelphia 76ers via the Orlando Magic. So here’s hoping they get a decent player that can prove helpful on the court as they continue to pursue titles during the twilight of Lebron James’ career.