Tho’ written by me (as a Laker fan), this was originally published in Daily Basketball (June 9th)… and operates on the assumption that Kobe STAYS in Los Angeles…
LA Lakers – Draft Preview
- previous season record: 42-40
- picks held by the team: #19, #40 & #48
- position needs: Power Forward, Point Guard
The Lakers enter the draft with many concerns at different levels of the organization, the primary one being how to turn around the ineptitude that has plagued the front office since winning their last title in 2002. Acquisitions have been made, but ever since the 2003-04 season where despite going into the Finals heavy favourites (starting line-up of Kobe, Shaq, Karl Malone, Gary Payton & Rick Fox) they lost in 5 to the Detroit Pistons, the choices made on personnel have oscillated between confusing to downright infuriating. The LA Lakers have the best player in the game in Kobe Bryant, but as yet, they have failed to put a decent team around him.
Some of the acquisitions made beggar the mind… leading them to wallow in the current quandary they find themselves in. Quite simply, the Lakers are heavy on salary, and low on talent.
In the 2006/07 NBA season, the Lakers finished 2 games over .500 (42-40), which – quite frankly – flattered this team. Sure, at times they were good – especially an opening run which saw them match the pace of some of the leading teams in the West – but at other times they looked absolutely bedraggled, getting annihilated by those same top-level franchises. Sure, there are nights when Kobe will take a game by sheer will alone, but that’s damn difficult against the likes of the Suns & Spurs. And, the West is about to get a little stronger with the additions (most likely) of Oden to Portland, and Durant to Seattle.
So… the Lakers hold the 19th, 40th & 48th picks. And what to do… ? A lot of what the Lakers need in the draft is really dependant on what they’re doing trade-wise, because it’s really only through the addition of current players that the Lakers are going to improve. That’s not to say that they cannot draft someone with the 19th pick who won’t make an impact, just that a draft pick at that point is more unlikely to satisfy ‘team needs’ (aka… What Kobe Wants).
If trades go through, who leaves? That will be a major point in factoring what draft choices the Lakers make. Still… being able to do that as a speculative process is damn difficult, but we’ll try, huh? (stay with me!)
So… I see Andrew Bynum going this off-season, and most likely Lamar Odom & Kwame Brown (who finally becomes attractive for some teams – due to his expiring contract), which means that the Lakers will have a serious dearth of height (not withstanding that if they are gone, we’ll probably have a new Forward/Center named Jermaine O’Neal). Even if they bring back Chris Mihm (at a reduced rate), height is needed. Same with a point-man. Smush Parker pretty much burnt bridges at LA, and will be gone – so will Jordan Farmar get the ball, or will they try and get another point guard in? Either way, a back-up guard will be nice addition.
Most big men drafted tend to be ‘projects’ (with the notable exception of this year’s most likely #1 pick), so the Lakers should look at drafting a point guard with the #19 pick. If Acie Law is still on the boards at that point in time, grab him and run. He’s a pass-first guard, and that is definitely what the Lakers desire in their point. Most draft boards have him going quite a bit earlier, and if that’s the case then Rodney Stuckey should be considered. Stuckey’s the kind of guard that Phil Jackson loves – he’s big, and has a frame that could easily bulk up. At the moment he’s a combo-guard, but would possibly see most time in the Lakers line-up at the point. If Petteri Koponen is still available at #40, the Lakers should take him. He’s a pass-oriented point European guard with great vision & excellent potential. If these aren’t available and the Lakers end up going a different direction with the 19th pick, then they should consider using one of the later picks (#40/48) to take Taurean Green, Zabian Dowdell or Gabe Pruitt.
With the later picks, I’d look at taking a big man who may not have an immediate impact. Players like Marc Gasol, Kyle Visser or Coleman Collins. If ‘Big Baby’ Glen Davis is around, then he has to be considered – the guy’s an out ‘n’ out baller. Still, his size has to be of some concern…
So, whichever way LA goes with it’s trades (and I believe this will be a busy off-season for them), they should still be able to pick up a productive player at #19, and get some beef in with the later picks.