The much anticipated 2015 NBA Draft has come and gone and the excitement in Los Angeles couldn’t be higher. The Los Angeles Lakers bucked tradition by taking Ohio State point guard D’Angelo Russell over Duke center, Jahlil Okafor. Both Mitch Kupchak and Byron Scott spoke highly of Russell and believe he can be a superstar in this league.
With their late first-round pick, the Lakers took athletic forward Larry Nance Jr. from Wyoming. While not the most popular pick, as he was viewed as a second-rounder at best, Nance could provide athleticism and defense for a Lakers team in dire need of both.
The Lakers final pick was Stanford’s Anthony Brown, a prototypical ‘3-and-D’ wing player. With the Lakers having a big hole at the small forward position, Brown’s size and shooting could make him an immediate contributor for the team.
The team could have went a number of different ways with any of their picks, but coming out of the draft we asked our panel of experts to give us their reactions. This is what they had to say:
Corey Hansford (@TheeCoreyH): I wanted Jahlil Okafor, plain and simple. I felt that the big man would be an immediate impact player in the NBA and that some of his weaknesses were being overstated. Needless to say, I was disappointed when the Lakers chose D’Angelo Russell.
That being said, when the Lakers are in the lottery they tend to make the right choice. Eddie Jones was one of the most popular Lakers of the last 25 years and Andrew Bynum helped the team win two championships. Julius Randle has yet to play, but the reports coming out of his recovery are extremely promising.
The Lakers did all of their research and brought guys in multiple times for workouts. They felt that D’Angelo Russell was the best player available and that is the mindset to have when drafting second overall. I just hope that I’m wrong in this case.
The other draft picks fill needs for the Lakers. Larry Nance Jr. is an athletic forward who brings defensive versatility and energy to the team. Anthony Brown is the perfect wing player for today’s NBA and brings much-needed shooting.
If nothing else, the Lakers future is finally starting to take shape. The trio of Russell, Randle, and Jordan Clarkson is promising and if the Lakers can make a splash in free agency the Lakers will quickly return to relevance in the NBA.
Russell Valenzuela (@RussVal4): If the Los Angeles Lakers were choosing between D’Angelo Russell and Jahlil Okafor, I truly believe the team was in a win-win situation. Both prospects have offensive strengths that will help them become successful in the NBA.
I have heralded Okafor for months calling him a rare talent who can potentially cause problems for small defensive lineups with his advanced post game and excellent ability to pass out of double-teams. Despite that, the Lakers drafting Russell signaled an important step in the organization’s growth as they gave themselves a young and talented backcourt.
Russell joins the list of Laker point guards the team has drafted but is also the one of most highly touted since Magic Johnson. His playmaking ability might remind some of the Showtime floor general, and it should be interesting to see if Russell grows into the superstar the Lakers believe he can be.
As for their later picks, the Lakers essentially took players who can become quality role players. Larry Nance Jr. fits the mold of a Jordan Hill or Ed Davis with his willingness to hustle on every play. As for Anthony Brown, shooters will always have a role on a team. The Lakers believe they took one of the better ones available in the draft in Brown.
Ryan Ward (@Lakers_Examiner): Heading into the NBA Draft I expected the Lakers to take Jahlil Okafor and was all for that decision. Drafting a player that could be the best at his position in the near future seemed like a no-brainer, especially with all the success the Lakers have had with centers in the past.
Then the announcement was made to draft D’Angelo Russell and all hell broke loose. Personally, I thought about the decision to go with Russell and came to terms with it pretty fast. Russell is a stud. Possibly the crucial ingredient the Lakers need to get to the next level in the modern-day NBA.
The only major concern I have now is that the team must hit a home run in free agency. LaMarcus Aldridge or Kevin Love might be attainable, but there’s no guarantees moving forward. Landing one of these two All-Star forwards to go along with Russell, Jordan Clarkson, and Julius Randle is something that could instantly make the Lakers a force to be reckoned with again.
As for the two other selections the Lakers made in the draft, it is hard to judge where they fit and whether they’ll really have a future in Los Angeles. Ironically enough, it seems as though Anthony Brown was more of a popular pick than Larry Nance Jr. Nance’s past tweet about Kobe Bryant didn’t help matters either for the Wyoming product.
Ultimately, the Lakers may be on the right track. Russell could be a superstar in the making and with the right talent around him, the future may be bright in Los Angeles.
Kevin Chan (@Kevin_Cruiser): Like most other NBA fans, I was shocked that the Lakers selected D’Angelo Russell with the number two overall pick. The Lakers nabbed an elite passer, adequate shooter, and high IQ player in Russell.
I was 99% sure that the Lakers would pick Jahlil Okafor. But as soon as the Russell’s name was announced the wheels in my head started turning. Does this mean that the Lakers feel good about their chances to land either LaMarcus Aldridge or Kevin Love in free agency? It would make sense for the Lakers to pass on a big man if they feel they can acquire one of the two aforementioned All-Stars. It’s fun to speculate, but only time will tell.
Later in the draft the Lakers selected power forward Larry Nance Jr. from Wyoming and small forward Anthony Brown from Stanford. I’m familiar with Brown since I follow Pac-12 basketball quite closely. The Lakers are getting a versatile swingman who will fill the void at SF for the Lakers.
Admittedly I had no clue who Larry Nance Jr. was prior to the draft and I was confounded by the pick especially since R.J. Hunter and Kevon Looney were still available. It seems that the Lakers front office was really impressed by Nance’s workout and like his uber athleticism and workman like mentality. It’ll be interesting to see how he pans out.
All in all the Lakers draft was satisfactory. I don’t think they made any glaring blunders but they also didn’t get any obvious value pick-ups later in the draft. The off-season is only beginning and the Lakers will surely make some additional moves in free agency.[divide]