Most seasons, draft night for Los Angeles Lakers fans isn’t a big deal. The Lakers either don’t have a pick, or have one late in the second round of the draft. And there is never a guarantee that the Lakers will actually keep their selection.
This year, however, is different. The Lakers had the seventh pick in one of the most loaded drafts in recent memory. Many prognosticators believe this will be the best class since the lauded 2003 draft that produced LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Bosh.
After last season’s debacle and with the roster basically a blank slate, the draft represented the first steps towards getting the team back to the championship.
With that being said, the team made some noise by taking Kentucky power forward Julius Randle in the first round, and trading into the second round to take Missouri combo guard Jordan Clarkson.
So what did our experts think about the Lakers draft moves? This is what they had to say:
Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner): Although there was endless speculation heading into the draft, in terms of the Lakers’ intentions, the storied franchise made the wise choice in taking Julius Randle out of Kentucky.
There’s no such thing as a sure thing in the draft. Marcus Smart was a player I thought would’ve been a great pick for the Lakers, but landing Randle and then buying a pick to get Jordan Clarkson was pure genius. Randle brings insurance in the frontcourt with Pau Gasol, Jordan Hill and Chris Kaman likely headed elsewhere, while Clarkson could be steal at point guard.
In all honesty, the Lakers couldn’t have done better in the draft. It remains to be seen if Randle and Clarkson can transcend their talent on the NBA level, but as of right now, the Lakers hit one out of the park in my opinion.
Get ready for an entertaining and telling run for the Lakers during the Summer League. Randle and Clarkson will highlight a roster of young talent that will have an opportunity to make the Lakers’ squad.
Kevin Chan (@Kevin_Cruiser): I’m really excited about Julius Randle. During high school he was projected as one of the top three players in his class along with Wiggins and Parker. So for the Lakers to get him at number seven is stellar.
I think Randle will ultimately develop into a stretch four. He needs to develop his outside game in order to complement his strong inside game which is sure to improve with a little refinement of his post moves. Randle is also an excellent rebounder which will be a great help to the Lakers who had the worst rebounding differential in the league at negative eight rebounds per game.
There are some minor concerns about Randle’s rumored foot “injury” but hopefully there will be no long-term lingering physical effects. His foot didn’t limit him at Kentucky where he recorded 24 double-doubles and helped them reach the NCAA Championship Game.
The key to Randle’s success will be to work on his mid-range jumper then eventually add a consistent three-point shot to his arsenal. Randle seems to have a chip on his shoulder already, stating in his draft interview that, “…the teams that passed on me will regret it.”
During his pre-draft workout the Lakers staff was impressed by his motor which is something that is hard to teach. Some players just don’t ever develop that killer instinct, while others seem to be born with it. Randle wore Kobe 9s throughout the NCAA Tourney, so it’s fitting that he ends up on the Lakers with Kobe Bryant. Randle seems to be eager to get to work and Lakers fans are eager to see what the future of the franchise can do on the court.
Corey Hansford (@TheeCoreyH): I am more than satisfied with what the Lakers did on draft night.
Julius Randle, in my opinion, was one of the three best prospects in the draft, so for the Lakers to get him at seven is outstanding. He also fits a need as the Lakers are in dire need of someone who can consistently get baskets in the post, and control the boards.
The fact that he grew up a huge Kobe fan is just icing on the cake. He already has a great motor and work ethic, so being able to learn from his childhood idol is just going to make him that much better.
What put it over the top for me, however, was the Lakers buying a second round pick to take Jordan Clarkson. The Lakers need good young guards on the roster and Clarkson was someone who many thought would go in the early-20s.
He is someone else who will have a chip on his shoulder after falling to the middle of the second round. Clarkson is great at getting to the basket and will bring some defensive versatility to the team.
Considering where the Lakers selected both of these guys, and the roles they can play, the Lakers would have been hard-pressed to do better than what they did.
Russell Valenzuela (@RussVal4): Although I wrote earlier that the Lakers should draft Noah Vonleh over Julius Randle, I am extremely pleased with the pick. If his foot turns out to be fine, he can come in right away and produce for the Lakers.
The Lakers biggest hole arguably is in the front court. With Randle, the Lakers can start to build for the future. Pau Gasol’s return is a big question the team will still need to address, but the addition of Randle gives the Lakers a solid player to carry the burden should Gasol sign elsewhere.
If Gasol were to return, the front court of pairing with Randle would give the Lakers a skilled duo down low. Both are excellent in the post and give the team an inside presence that they have been lacking.
Jordan Clarkson possesses great size for someone who can play point guard, and also has an impressive wingspan that could allow him to disrupt opposing players on defense. His size also allows him to play both guard positions.
What Clarkson brings to the table is his strong ability to get to the rim and finish. He could potentially become another steal for the Lakers who added youth to the roster without giving up anything besides cash considerations.
Overall, the Lakers had an excellent draft and should come into the season with some optimism that they are on the right side of the rebuild.
Suki Thind (@TheRealSuki): Given the seventh pick, the Lakers made a great decision in picking Julius Randle. With Marcus Smart going sixth to the Boston Celtics, Randle was the best player available.
A power forward who gets to the basket, rebounds well, and has a chip on his shoulder, Randle will certainly be a contributor for the Lakers next season and is likely to start immediately given the team’s lack of depth up front.
Randle came off as confident and ready to prove all the teams who passed on him wrong in his post-selection interview — a type of mentality his team teammate, and childhood idol, Kobe Bryant, is sure to appreciate.
Lakers Acquire Jordan Clarkson In Second Round Of Draft