Top 5 Rookie Prospects For Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Lakers' Top 5 Rookie Prospects
The Los Angeles Lakers are currently in the Top 6 of the NBA's worst teams based on win percentage. The team started off pretty well and were at one point sitting comfortably at .500. Since then, they have dropped 17 of their last 20 games including devastating losses to the league's worst Utah Jazz, Milwaukee Bucks, Orlando Magic and Philadelphia 76ers.
With Kobe Bryant's return being delayed for a minimum of three more weeks, it does not appear that the Lakers will be able to turn this season around any time soon. This is certainly not something that Lakers fans are accustomed to, and there is no reason that they should be. The organization is about winning. The draft lottery is not something that Lakers fans are familiar with either. Los Angeles has been known more for attracting marquee free agents in addition to executing blockbuster trades that catapult them into championship contention.
The trade for Dwight Howard last season was expected to be one of those trades but, as we all know, failed miserably. Howard was expected to be a cornerstone of the Lakers franchise, however, he is now a cornerstone for the Houston Rockets. To throw salt in the wound, Los Angeles lost him for absolutely nothing.
As a result, the Lakers are now forced to build through the draft. On the bright side, the team picked the right year to be terrible, because this draft is loaded. It is said to be the best draft since 2003, when players like LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Carmelo Anthony were picked. This is not meant to suggest that superstar caliber players will be featured in this draft, but there are certainly many prospects that can make a substantial impact on their future teams. The question here is, who is the ideal candidate to be selected by the Lakers?
5. Jabari Parker - SF Duke
Most would probably expect Jabari Parker to be ranked much higher than No. 5. This may be the case for some other teams, but for the Lakers, he is simply not a great fit.
Parker is a high volume shooter who is primarily known for his scoring ability. This is not the type of player that the Lakers need. because they already have that guy -- Kobe Bryant. This is mainly the reason why Los Angeles most likely will not pursue impending free agent Carmelo Anthony either. Therefore, selecting Parker would not make much sense unless they had the intention of trading him. Unless everybody else is taken, Parker suiting up in the purple and gold is highly unlikely.
4. Julius Randle - PF Kentucky
Julius Randle has had an outstanding season for the Kentucky Wildcats so far. He has boosted his draft stock drastically after proving to be deadly in the post and on the boards. This is usually the type of player that the Lakers like to pair up with Bryant, but drafting him would not make much sense if Los Angeles intends to pursue Kevin Love after next season ends.
Love seems like a very realistic free agent option in the future. so he and Randle wouldn't be able to play together. Randle is not big enough to play center, but also does not have the shooting ability to play at small forward. Therefore, drafting him is not the absolute best option.
3. Marcus Smart - G Oklahoma State
The Lakers have been desperately missing a point guard that can attack the basket aggressively and control a game like Marcus Smart. He is more of a combination guard than a pure point guard, but that's what a rookie year is for.
If drafted by the Lakers, he can be developed into more of a pure point guard to pair with Bryant in the backcourt. Russell Westbrook faced the same type of criticism and he has really proven himself as a legitimate point guard. If he was to drop to Los Angeles in this year's draft, he would most definitely be a solid pick.
2. Andrew Wiggins - SF Kansas
Possibly the most hyped prospect coming into college basketball, Andrew Wiggins would be a fantastic fit in LA. The hype may have died down substantially since the season started, but that doesn't mean that his talent level has decreased too.
Wiggins is still an extremely explosive player that can drive to the basket with much success. His shooting is a question, but with time, he should be able to develop a fairly consistent perimeter game. Even if he doesn't develop an outside game, it is not a huge deal because the Lakers have numerous players that can shoot from the perimeter.
The main reason for Wiggins to be drafted by Los Angeles is due to the fact that he can defend his position very well. Defense is a major deficiency and one of the primary reasons the Lakers have accumulated so many losses this season.
1. Joel Embiid - C/PF Kansas
Finally, the best prospect that may be available in this year's draft, Joel Embiid.
The Lakers have had so many great centers in the past, including Shaquille O'Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabar and Wilt Chamberlain. This is not to suggest that he will join these former Laker greats, but he is worth taking a chance on.
Embiid is massive at 7-foot-2, and seems to be the prospect with the best chance to reach superstar status. His presence alone would help the Lakers defensively and there are not many centers in the league now that would be able to stop a player of his size. If he is able to bulk up like Roy Hibbert has recently, Embiid can be a dangerous force, especially if the Lakers intend to wait one more year to sign a free agent and go after Kevin Love. The duo of Love and Embiid in the front court may be enough to help Bryant get his sixth ring.