This doesn't seem right. There must be some kind of mistake. The Los Angeles Lakers are making a top 10 draft pick? You're sure? The first time since 2005, nearly ten years ago, when they drafted some largely unknown player by the name of Andrew Bynum? Well, OK then.
NBA Draft Series!
The 2013-2014 Lakers were a pretty weird team. Kobe Bryant, who signed a big contact that is essentially crippling the team, got hurt and wasn't available for most of the season. Steve Nash was also dealing with injuries. Pau Gasol was traded a billion times in NBA trade machines only to not be actually traded just like he is every season. Former Sixer (and forever in our hearts) Nick Young SwaggyP'd his way straight into the heart of LA fans with his bizarre and erratic play. Chris Kaman was on their roster because why not. Former Dukie Ryan Kelly was seeing significant NBA minutes. Kendall Marshall escaped the Delaware Sevens and played better than expected. You couldn't ask for a group of more random group of players in a major market like LA seemingly trying to win basketball games.
But that's exactly the problem in LA. They don't have the luxury of tearing things down and tanking like the Sixers do. They still have Kobe Bryant on the books and they need to field a competitive roster as long as they're committed to him. So while the Lakers are trying to win now, it only makes sense for them to draft a player who can contribute right away. That player is Kentucky forward Julius Randle.
I feel like I like Randle more than most do. I love the strength he displays. Sure, he may have shorter arms but you won't notice that when he you see him bullying opponents on his way to the basket. For what it's worth, DraftExpress ranks Randle as their 4th best prospect and second best PF behind Duke forward Jabari Parker.
I reached out to Drew Garrison of Silver Screen and Roll for a Lakers perspective and he was more than happy to explain why Randle is the right pick here.
Randle is arguably the most NBA-ready player out of the trio of power forwards, and him dropping to seven is a great outcome for the purple and gold.
There will be a sect of Lakers fans disappointed they didn't draft Marcus Smart, but they'll get over it. Smart's shooting form is atrocious, his shot selection needs to -- and likely will be -- tightened up. The argument usually boils down to the fact that he's a defensive demon, but that transitions into the age-old argument of rim protection vs. point guard perimeter defense. The team wouldn't be making a mistake by drafting Smart here, but he doesn't scream "total package" in a league piling up extremely talented point guards. He'll probably have one of the better rookie seasons out of the top-10 draftees if only because of his tank-like frame and ability to attack the rim.
Still, LA has Kobe Bryant who will undoubtedly handle the ball. They have Kendall Marshall on a non-guaranteed contract worth under $1 million. They could bring back Jordan Farmar, who had a great year prior to his hamstrings going haywire, on a cheap deal. They could swing at a point guard like Kyle Lowry this summer. The team has many options at point guard, so why burn assets to draft a position where the team has SOME type of direction.
There's really no other move but for the Lakers to take Randle at seven, especially with Gordon and Vonleh off the board. He should be able to contribute to the team immediately, which is an important factor as well. Maybe he isn't a homerun like an Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker or Joel Embiid, but the Lakers need to get some guys on base. Drafting Randle is hitting a double, at least.
The Sacramento Kings are now on the clock and Levin will be making their selection tomorrow.