The upcoming NBA Draft will be the most important for the Lakers in a long time as they begin rebuilding the team, and preparing for life without Kobe Bryant.
This will be the team’s first lottery selection since the 2005 season, when they selected Andrew Bynum with the 10th pick in the draft. That pick proved to be a great one as Bynum was a large part of the Lakers’ back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010.
With a lot of holes on the roster, the Lakers will have a lot of options once their time to select arises. Big men like Joel Embiid and Julius Randle, wings like Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins, and point guards like Dante Exum and Marcus Smart combine to form a very talented draft class.
This begs the question, where should the Lakers place their focus? So we asked our panel of experts, which position do the Lakers most need to target in this year’s draft? This is what they had to say:
Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner): The Lakers will be major players in the upcoming 2014 NBA Draft and will be forced to make a move that could impact the franchise for years to come.
With that being said, the best move the team can make is going after Jabari Parker and therefore drafting a small forward. Parker is arguably the most NBA-ready of all the draft prospects at this point in time and would be a welcome addition alongside Kobe Bryant.
Obviously, Carmelo Anthony’s free agency status could change things in terms of what the Lakers intend to do. Luol Deng may also be a player they target in free agency. If Anthony is available and the Lakers want him, I’d go with a point guard in the draft, namely Australian Dante Exum.
First priority, small forward. Backup plan, point guard.
The Lakers draft position and intentions in free agency will dictate the position they target. It’d be a safe bet to assume point guard or small forward, but there’s a chance they could go with a center if Joel Embiid falls to them.
Suki Thind (@TheRealSuki): The Lakers need to draft the best player at any position right now — with the exception of shooting guard. Even then, if they draft a shooting guard, they can always move Kobe Bryant over to small forward.
The bottom line here is that the Lakers are currently lacking talent and need to draft the best possible player, regardless of position. Management has been trying to acquire an elite point guard for some time now (first Chris Paul, and then Steve Nash), but it hasn’t quite worked out. However, the Lakers sorely need rim protection as well as perimeter defense.
Once again, the Lakers should draft the best player they can get. This has actually been Mitch Kupchak’s philosophy as GM, so I’m sure he’ll continue to follow that strategy.
Ramneet Singh (@Ramneet24): The Los Angeles Lakers are preparing for the upcoming NBA Draft and this year’s class is one of the deepest we have seen in a while. From Andrew Wiggins to Jabari Parker, there are a number of talented players about to embark on an NBA career and there is a chance one of them land in Los Angeles.
At this point, the Lakers have a solid backcourt with Steve Nash and either Kendall Marshall or Jordan Farmar for next season. Kobe Bryant will also be in uniform come next fall so the Lakers don’t have to worry too much about getting a guard in this year’s draft.
However, with the possibility of losing out on small forwards this summer, the Lakers should target one this June. Wiggins and Parker will be the marquee players in the draft and the front office should go after one of those two before a big man liked Embiid or a point guard like Dante Exum.
Both Wiggins and Parker have enough upside to develop into future All-Stars and over time they can become the face of the Los Angeles Lakers. With Bryant on the verge of retirement, getting a skilled small forward in this year’s draft can set the team up for the future.
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