With 10 games remaining in the 2015-16 NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers are currently focused on Kobe Bryant’s farewell tour and the young core’s development.
Over the last two seasons, the Lakers have drafted extremely well and established a young core of D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson. With the franchise headed to the draft lottery for the third consecutive season, Los Angeles will only be able to keep their pick if it lands in the top-three as a result of the Steve Nash trade in 2012.
On Thursday, Bryant attended his first March Madness game and was able to watch Duke forward, Brandon Ingram. After the loss to the Denver Nuggets, the five-time champion had high praise for the prospect according to Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters:
Kobe Bryant on Brandon Ingram: “I think he plays with a lot of poise…extremely long and he knows how to use it. I was very impressed."
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) March 26, 2016
For much of the season, LSU’s Ben Simmons was considered to be this year’s top prospect. However, Ingram has supplanted him in some mock drafts and some feel his shooting abilities (41.0 percent from three) would be a better fit for the Lakers if they are able to keep their pick. In his first season with Duke, Ingram averaged 17.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists.
Heading into the off-season, the Lakers have an opportunity to speed up their rebuilding process. If they are able to land Ingram or Simmons, having four young prospects could be enticing to potential free agents. Following the draft, the Lakers are projected to have as much as $62 million in cap space to pursue two max contract free agents.
While all the attention will naturally be on Kevin Durant, there are numerous players who could help the Lakers at the center and small forward position. Al Horford, Hassan Whiteside, Nicolas Batum and Chandler Parsons (player option) are a few names who may be attainable and would fit in well with the young core.