Once again, the NBA Draft Gods blessed the Los Angeles Lakers. Despite a less than 10% chance of moving up, the Lakers jumped up from No. 11 to the No. 4 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
This is a huge move and great start for the Lakers in a crucial offseason as they will have a great opportunity to add a big-time talent even though they fell just outside of the top-three.
Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, and R.J. Barrett are expected to be the first three players taken off the board, but that is not where the talent stops and here is a look at five players the Lakers could bring in with their top-four pick:
Darius Garland | Point Guard | Vanderbilt
Unfortunately for Garland, there is not much college tape on him thanks to a torn meniscus ending his season in just five games. However, make no mistake about it, his game is NBA-ready and tailor-made for this style of play.
Garland is not a physical specimen (6’3″ and 179 pounds with a 6’5″ wingspan), but he is an extremely skilled guard capable of running the pick-and-roll in the halfcourt and also being fearsome in transition thanks to his speed. He is also an excellent shooter both in catch-and-shoot and off-the-dribble situations and shot 47.8% from the three-point line.
Garland has also shown the ability to create for others with solid court vision and great passing and should be able to play both on and off the ball at the next level.
Because of his lack of size and strength, there will be some questions about his defense at the next level and he will have to improve his finishing at the rim as well as his turnovers. Of course, when it comes to the Lakers, it also does not hurt that he is represented by Klutch Sports.
DeAndre Hunter | Forward | Virginia
Hunter seemingly has a lower ceiling than some of the other prospects on this list, but that does not make him any less valuable as he brings a lot to the table that the Lakers could use.
At the top of that list is Hunter’s ability to defend. Listed at 6’7″ and 225 pounds with a 7’2″ wingspan, Hunter can potentially defend multiple positions at the next level and he comes from a school that prides themselves on defending at a high level. He played a huge role in helping lead Virginia to the 2019 NCAA National Championship.
While the defense was always there, it is Hunter’s offensive improvements that make him so intriguing. He improved greatly as a spot-up shooter in his second season and has great court awareness playing off-ball with his ability to cut and finish strong. He will likely never be a great shot creator for himself and others, but he brings a lot to the table with his defense, rebounding, and shooting.
His ceiling is not as high, but defense and shooting are needs and Hunter should be able to provide those immediately.
Jarrett Culver | Shooting Guard | Texas Tech
Culver, another player who rose up draft boards thanks to big improvements made in his second college season, brings a lot to the table — especially if he can improve his jump shot.
Defensively, Culver brings a lot to the table with his length (6’5″ and 6’10” wingspan) allowing him to guard multiple positions and his athleticism leading to him being an above-average rebounder for his position. He plays very hard at all times and always finds ways to affect the game even if he is struggling to score.
On the offensive end, Culver made big improvements as a ball-handler and creator for others, but he still has much room to improve in that department. He is a willing passer and overall unselfish player but will need to improve his dribbling and creativity as he is a relatively basic player at this stage.
Culver’s shooting struggles are definitely a concern, but his ability to defend and create could stand out especially if the Lakers believe his jumper can develop.
Sekou Doumbouya | Power Forward | International
If the Lakers want to swing for the fences, this is likely the player they would do it on. If they are thinking more long-term, Doumbouya could make a lot of sense.
Physically, Doumbouya is an absolute specimen at 6’9″ and 230 pounds with a 6’11” wingspan. He has the frame to add more strength and not get bullied down low, while also having the length and quickness to defend the rim and even switch out on the perimeter.
Offensively, Doumbouya has shown flashes of developing a post game while also possessing solid footwork for a player with such little overall experience. However, his success will be very much tied to how he develops because he has a long ways to go in becoming a productive NBA player.
Doumbouya’s physical tools will be intriguing, but skill-wise, he still struggles with the fundamentals right now. This would be a long-term play if the Lakers went this route, but could pay great dividends if they are patient.
Cam Reddish | Small Forward | Duke
Reddish, one of the most polarizing prospects in the draft, has everything a team wants in a modern-day NBA wing but too often fails to put it all together on the court.
Reddish has the size (6’8″ and 218 pounds with a 7’1″ wingspan) and athleticism to play anywhere on the wing and is a willing defender who can guard multiple positions. He is a good ball-handler who knows how to get his own shot off, but also understands how to play off the ball and find open spaces. He also showed flashes of being able to facilitate in the pick-and-roll.
The problem for Reddish is that his production does not always seem to match the tools that are evident. His shooting form looks perfect, but he shot just 33.3% from the three-point line. He is a great athlete, but often looks uncoordinated and can struggle to finish at the rim.
At times, Reddish looked like the best player on a team with both Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett. However, at other times, one could completely forget he was on the floor as his effort and focus suffered. He is a player whose workouts could look incredible, but the Lakers will have to figure out how to measure that with his game film.