The Los Angeles Lakers desperately needed some luck and they got it in the draft lottery. As well as maintaining their place in the top five to hang on to their draft selection, the Lakers also climbed to number two in the overall selection, opening the door for the franchise to snap up one of the two potential franchise centres expected to fill the top-two draft spots. With Julius Randle preparing to return to action after the broken leg he suffered in his NBA debut following his first-round selection in last year’s draft, the franchise are looking at a season in which they could have one of the most exciting front-court duos.
With Minnesota claiming the number-one draft pick, the Lakers are now waiting to see whether the Timberwolves opt for Duke’s Jahlil Okafor or Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns. With not much to choose from between the two centres, it’s a win-win situation for the Lakers management. But there is also the outside chance general manager Mitch Kupchak surprises everyone and looks elsewhere, with seven-foot Latvian Kristaps Porzingis also rumoured to be on Los Angeles’ radar.
The Lakers’ and the franchise will know they have a great chance at snapping up an instant starter. So what can Lakers fans expect from the three players most likely in line to earn the franchise’s first draft pick?
Karl-Anthony Towns (Kentucky): A more defensive-minded player than Okafor, Towns possibly brings a more all-round game than his main rival for the first overall draft pick. The Lakers could definitely do with strengthening their scoring ranks but there is no doubt that the franchise’s main focus this summer needs to be on bolstering a defence that looked extremely fragile last season, especially considering Randle’s defensive limitations as a power forward. Capable of playing in that deep anchor role and spreading the play in a more pick-and-roll-focused offense, Towns has all the tools to step right into the Lakers’ starting line-up and have a major impact.
Jahlil Okafor (Duke): The Lakers may have some reservations about Okafor due to doubts about his defensive game but there is no doubt the Duke star has everything needed to be a huge success in the NBA. His offensive game is so strong that Okafor is one of those players who opponents are often forced to assign two defenders to mark him, opening up the court for the likes of Jordan Clarkson and Randle to use their perimeter shooting, while Kobe Bryant can continue doing what he does. The 19-year-old averaged 17 points a game during Duke’s NCAA championship run this year, and if the Timberwolves and Lakers do not take him, you better believe Philadelphia or the Knicks will.
Kristaps Porzingis (Latvia)
Should something happen to Towns or Okafor, Kupchak could be tempted to take a seven-footer with real three-point scoring ability in the shape of Latvia’s Kristaps Porzingis. He might not have the defensive game that the Lakers need but there are few chances to snap up big men with the scoring talents of Porzingis. The 19-year-old had been close to entering the 2014 draft before opting against it, but the Latvian is now expected to be picked inside the top 10 this year. A strong showing in the workouts could be enough to tempt the Lakers to sign him.