With 13 games remaining in the 2015-16 NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers are headed to the draft lottery for the third consecutive season. While the franchise only has a top-three protected pick as a result of the Steve Nash trade, one of the top prospects in the nation officially declared yesterday.
Ben Simmons is expected to go in the top-two in this year’s draft after averaging 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists in his lone season at LSU.
With the talented forward being D’Angelo Russell’s high school teammate, the Lakers rookie had some advice for him according to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:
“I just told him to keep two feet in and get to the [NCAA] tournament,” Russell said. “If you make a better run in the tournament, you’ll leave a better legacy at the college level than whatever trouble he got into or whatever his talk about why he was there. It was all about the legacy.”
As Kobe Bryant is set to retire at the end of this season, the Lakers have done extremely well in preparing for the next era. If the Lakers are fortunate enough to add a player like Simmons, it could bode well for them when they pursue free agents.
With a projected $65 million in cap space, having a young core in place could make the Lakers an attractive destination once again. Over the last couple of years, it was difficult to sell to free agents, but the young core has been able to showcase their potential since the All-Star break.
For Simmons, it will be interesting to see if he does goes first in the 2016 NBA Draft. Over the last couple of weeks, Duke’s Brandon Ingram has gained traction and some mock drafts currently have him as the top prospect.