Thursday’s NBA Draft will bring a big moment in the Lakers’ rebuilding effort. With two picks Los Angeles could add a pair of important young pieces, assuming they choose wisely. Adding a talent like LSU’s Ben Simmons or Duke’s Brandon Ingram, combined with a future piece with the 32nd pick, could go a long way towards bringing the purple and gold out of the cellar.
With the draft holding so much importance for the Lakers, we decided to ask our Lakers Nation staff a couple of questions: Do you prefer the Lakers end up with Simmons or Ingram, and who do you hope they select at 32?
Maximo Gonzalez (@maximobgonzalez)– After three nightmarish seasons, things are finally looking up for the Los Angeles Lakers after they were able to retain the second overall pick in this year’s NBA draft. Despite common interest among this year’s top prospects in joining the purple and gold, the choice has come down to LSU’s Ben Simmons and Duke’s Brandon Ingram.
Though the Lakers find themselves in a win-win situation between the two players, it is rumored that the purple and gold would have likely targeted Ingram even if they had the No. 1 overall pick. In a lot of ways, that would have certainly seemed like the right call to make. Despite Simmons’ already impressive physical skill set, Ingram could be the right piece to fit in with the Lakers’ young squad.
As a 6’9 sharpshooter, Ingram can score from virtually anywhere on the court. Whether it’s creating his own shot or shooting off the pass, his offensive prowess will allow him to make an impact almost immediately, whereas Simmons is mostly a ball-dominant point forward who needs the rock in order to get his rhythm going. On a team with other ball-dominant players like D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle, Ingram is more equipped to do much more with his possessions.
Aside from the second pick , the Lakers also own the 32nd pick in this year’s draft. Though it’s no lottery pick, the second-round has become a gold mine in year’s past with players such as Draymond Green, Khris Middleton, and even the Lakers’ own Jordan Clarkson.
Though it’s unlikely you’ll find this tier of players in every draft, there are certainly some
options there the Lakers can add that will help the franchise return to postseason contention. One of them could be A.J. Hammons out of Purdue. The seven-footer is a dominant rim protector who also possesses a solid post game and at 260 pounds, he comes into the league ready to bang with the big boys.
Although this year’s Finals features a match-up between two “small ball” teams, the Lakers are in dire need of some help on the defensive end. They were among the worst teams in points per game allowed last season, largely in part due to teams being able to score easily on the inside.
Though the Lakers certainly have a long way to go before getting back to championship contention, the franchise has laid down a solid blueprint in building a roster that will once again be competitive in this league.
Nathaniel Lastrapes (@nathanielp2)- The Lakers are in a very fortunate position with No. 2 pick, as they will most likely land either Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram. Simmons is likely to be drafted by the Sixers, so I have managed my expectations and have gone all in on the idea of Ingram wearing purple and gold next season.
Ingram would be a perfect fit with the current makeup of this roster. He will slide into the small forward position perfectly, joining the young core of Russell, Clarkson, Randle, and Nance Jr. These five players will continue to grow with each other under the supervision of Luke Walton and can attract free agents to join forces with them in Los Angeles for many years to come.
The No. 32 pick seems like it would be a throwaway pick, but it does have value. The Lakers selected Larry Nance Jr. at No. 27 last year and lucked out with Jordan Clarkson at No. 46 the year before. Thon Maker seems to be a popular idea for the Lakers to select at No. 32 should he be available, but knowing the Lakers’ scouting history, they will select a player we have never heard of and we will be impressed as we see that player develop.
Alan Huerta (@alan_huerta24)- Although Ben Simmons has already drawn comparisons to LeBron James and Magic Johnson with his high-level athleticism and astonishing passing ability, not to mention the fact that he’s been the talk of this draft since before he even finished high school two years ago, I’d still prefer the Los Angeles Lakers to draft the former Duke Blue Devil, Brandon Ingram with the second overall pick.
Not a knock against Simmons, since I do believe he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with in the NBA, but I think with the pieces that the Lakers have, Ingram is a better addition to their young core. That, added to the fact that Philadelphia isn’t going to pass up on Simmons only because he declined a workout with them. He’s going number one.
As for why Ingram, well he’s a prolific scorer that seems to be more of a traditional small forward; a position the Lakers desperately need to fill with Kobe Bryant now focused on starring in Ghostbusters commercials. Not to mention that Ingram is a much ‘safer’ pick from a maturity standpoint, even though his ceiling isn’t as high as Simmons. However, besides being such a versatile scorer – he can hit threes, attack the rim, create his own shot for himself and others with his high basketball IQ – my favorite attribute about him is that he’s a two-way player that can defend multiple positions with his length and 7’3” wingspan. On a rebuilding team that has been in the bottom tier of the league for the least few years, especially defensively, Ingram is as good as it’s going to get from both ends of the floor.
Adding him alongside Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell and Larry Nance Jr. will be exciting since he could add much-needed versatility and what hopes to be a new brand of basketball alongside new head coach Luke Walton to this young core.
The one glaring weakness with Ingram is obviously his slim frame (only weighs about 190lbs besides being 6’9”), however, he’s still only 18 years old, which makes him the youngest collegiate prospect entering the draft. Whether or not he’ll live up to the Kevin Durant comparisons (since we know those rarely do) as he resembles him from a physique standpoint to his ability to shoot from range while still mixing in explosive athleticism only time will tell, but if Ingram can add some size as he continues to develop into the league, he may be exactly what the Lakers need to begin writing the next chapter of the franchise’s history.
As for the Lakers 32nd pick, there are numerous options the team can select with this pick. The most important in the second round is obviously the necessity versus availability factor. Personally, I’m very fond of Malik Beasley (SG) and Thon Maker (PF); I just don’t believe they’ll be available when the Lakers get on the clock for their second time. Also, unless they can get an immediate impact backcourt player like say, Demetrius Jackson, I think they should target the frontcourt.
That said, two players that make sense are Ben Bentil and Diamond Stone. Bentil is a long, athletic forward that is tough in the paint, can run the floor well and can score from anywhere on the floor. On a young team like the Lakers, Bentil’s addition could continue to speed up their rebuilding process. As for Stone, he’s a 6’10” traditional center that has terrific low-post scoring abilities with excellent hands and a soft touch, who is also very physical on both ends. Stone can rebound well and also alter/block many shots, a vital asset for a team that desperately needs help defensively.
Trevor Lane (@Trevor_Lane)- In a way, the Lakers ended up with the easiest decision of the draft, as all they have to do is select whichever of Simmons and Ingram is still on the board after Philadelphia picks.
However, in terms of which player I would like to see in purple and gold, I’m on Team Simmons. His ability to get out in transition and run the break fits in nicely with a Lakers team that needs to offer an exciting on-court product now that Kobe Bryant has ridden off into the sunset. Simmons may not have an ideal skill set to work with Russell, Randle, and Clarkson, but at this stage that can’t be a major concern.
Simmons’ combination of passing ability and raw athleticism regularly produces holy-crap-did-you-see-that moments, and he has true superstar potential. Ingram is a wonderful prospect, but Simmons is the guy I would most like to see end up in Los Angeles.
With the 32nd pick, I have my eye on a number of bigs, including Thon Maker, Stephen Zimmerman, Diamond Stone, and Chinanu Onuaku. However, the guy that intrigues me most is Zhou Qi. At 7’2″ with an insane 7’7″ wingspan, he led the Chinese Basketball Association in blocks. That skill, combined with his ability to shoot from the outside, makes Zhou the type of player that could be a good fit with Julius Randle.
He won’t be able to come to the NBA until 2017, but the Lakers will already have plenty of young players on their roster next season, so that’s not a problem. Zhou can get one more year of seasoning and then give the Lakers a young, talented player that fits stylistically and fills a position of need.
That said, I have faith that whoever the Lakers select will be the right guy, they have earned that confidence after finding players like Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson late in the draft.
Corey Hansford (@TheeCoreyH)- If I had the choice, I would undoubtedly take Ben Simmons. For some reason, people have chosen to focus on his couple of negatives while ignoring all the positives he brings to the table.
You just don’t see players of his size and athleticism, who also possess his ball handling, passing, and court vision. He is an outstanding playmaker and a great rebounder as well. He can also make an impact on the defensive end. Quite frankly there is very little he can’t do on the court.
People have chosen to focus on his lack of a jump shot. To that I say, so what. Not being a knockdown shooter hasn’t stopped LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Russell Westbrook, or John Wall in their careers. Plus it is something that can be worked on and improved, see: Green, Draymond.
No, he doesn’t fit with the roster, but he also has a higher ceiling than anybody on the Lakers right now so I wouldn’t let that stop me from taking him. You don’t pass on Chris Paul because you have Jrue Holiday.
As far as the 32nd pick, it’s very difficult to predict, but assuming a wing is taken at number two, I would want the Lakers to take a big man, or a lockdown defender at 32.
Vanderbilt’s Damian Jones or Croatia’s Ante Zizic would be great fits as centers in my opinion. I also wouldn’t mind someone like Gary Payton II who would immediately be the best defender on the team and change the mindset of the squad.