Malcolm Lee – PG/SG – UCLA – Junior: While the Lakers most pressing need lies at the starting point guard position, drafting UCLA’s Malcolm Lee may not be such a bad decision for the Lakers. His size (6-foot-5) makes him more of a shooting guard, and he didn’t post great assist numbers (2.0 APG) during his junior season in Westwood, Calif.; however, his size, length (6-foot-9.75) and athleticism will make him a very versatile player in the NBA. And if Shannon Brown decides to opt out, he would be a great candidate to fill the Lakers’ need at backup shooting guard. He proved to be a fairly strong guard as well, as he put up an impressive 17 bench press repetitions at the pre-draft combine last month. However, given his strong performances in workouts thus far, the chances of Lee being available when the Lakers are on the clock at No. 41 are quickly diminishing. But if the SoCal-grown kid does fall into the Lakers laps, he’d be a great addition to the franchise, and is definitely ready to contribute right away.
Iman Shumpert – PG/SG – Georgia Tech – Junior: Similar to Lee, Iman Shumpert is a tall (6-foot-5) and long guard (6-foot-9) that is capable of playing both backcourt positions well. However, he is a much more suited for the point guard position than Lee is, as Shumpert has been Georgia Tech’s point guard for the past three seasons, which has helped him develop into more of a playmaking guard. Additionally, aside from Georgia’s Travis Leslie, there might not be a more athletic player in 2011 than Shumpert, who registered a combine high, 42.5-inch vertical leap. Considering the Lakers’ desperate need for a young, athletic point guard, Shumpert could surprise everyone and fill that mold for the purple and gold. Unfortunately for LA, the likelihood of Shumpert being available when the Lakers are on the clock at 41 is highly unlikely. His measurements at the combine and recent performances in pre-draft work outs have him shooting up draft boards everywhere, with some pegging him to go No. 17 to the New York Knicks. Nevertheless, the Lakers scored Devin Ebanks, who was pegged as a surefire lottery pick for the majority of last season, in the second round of last year’s draft — so maybe they can strike second round gold yet again in 2011 if Shumpert falls into their laps.
Travis Leslie – SG/SF – Georgia – Senior: If there’s one player’s name that comes to mind when I hear or see Travis Leslie, it’s current Laker Shannon Brown — or, a small forward in a point guard’s body. Despite being fairly small for the off-guard/wing position, Leslie makes up for that completely with his insane athleticism. He’s the one, jump-out-of-the-gym player in 2011, who could be a first rounder on his physical gifts alone. He’s that player, who everyone stays after practice to watch slam home dunks that wouldn’t seem believable in dreams, let alone real life. At the pre-draft combine, Leslie measured in with an absurd 6-foot-10.5 wingspan and a ridiculous 40.5-inch vertical leap. In addition to his incredible bounce and great speed, Leslie is a very strong player as well. He put up a respectable 10 bench press repetitions at the combine and weighed in at 205 pounds. Additionally, he proved himself as a fighter and a very good rebounder at Georgia, as he pulled down 7.2 boards per game in his third collegiate season. If Shannon Brown does decide to utilize his player option and become a free agent, Leslie could be a perfect (and cheap) replacement for Kobe Bryant’s backup. And if the Lakers somehow end up with him AND Isaiah Thomas as second string guards, they could have a very explosive and exciting group of players coming off of the bench in 2010-11 and beyond.
Next: Big Men