The euphoria of the Lakers not only keeping their pick, but moving up in the draft lottery still hasn’t worn off, personally. Going into the draft lottery, I was reserved to just hanging onto the pick. Anything more was gravy and seemingly a distant, faint possibility.
Yet here we stand, the Lakers holding the #2 pick and the debate now centered on Karl-Anthony Towns or Jahlil Okafor. This isn’t really a dream, is it?
Common sense would tell you that Towns would go #1 to the Timberwolves and the Lakers will take Okafor at #2. However, for the next two and a half weeks, there will be a lot of smoke screens. The Lakers may or may not be considering Emmanuel Mudiay or D’Angelo Russell at #2. In a guard-driven league, how easy is it to turn down someone like Russell, who could fit so well next to Jordan Clarkson?
The most intriguing rumor, though, is that the Timberwolves might actually be interested in trading down from the #1 spot with the Lakers.
On one hand, the T’Wolves are apparently enamored with Okafor, so much so that they are considering taking him #1. Could they be bluffing? How crazy is Flip Saunders? Is David Kahn still running the organization?
We know the Lakers have three picks in this draft: #2, #27, and #34 overall. Which of those latter picks, if any, should the Lakers move for the #1 pick?
First, is the difference in Okafor and Towns worth giving up multiple assets? The quick answer is yes. The longer answer can be backed up by this workout footage from last week. If that doesn’t make my point, then there’s no convincing you. That footage is that fantastic.
This isn’t to discredit, Okafor, though. He’s the best offensive big man in the draft and would be one of among the top 10 big men offensively in the league right now. But his defense has always had a lot of question marks with it and his ceiling is much lower than Towns. With the Lakers, Towns is a bette fit due to his defensive ability/potential alongside Julius Randle, though Okafor would still form an impressive front court.
The next step is looking at what you’d be giving up in the latter two picks. The draft is solid until roughly pick 25, where there’s a pretty noticeable drop. To put it differently, Jordan Clarkson would be a first round pick in this draft based simply on what we knew going into the draft. You aren’t finding a diamond in the rough of Clarkson’s level in the middle-to-late second round.
Our own Ryan Kelapire looked at the options at #27 and #34, and they’re somewhat grim. The decision the Lakers have is whether Jahlil Okafor + Delon Wright is a better option than Towns. It would likely take both first round picks at the least to move up. There could also be a deal involving all three Lakers picks for the #1 and #36 pick.
You also have the fact that Mitch Kupchak has openly said adding three young players to the roster might be too much. He’s looking to make a trade, whether that be moving up to the #1 selection or simply packaging the latter two picks to move up into the low 20’s.
In the end, the Lakers need to ensure that they get Towns. What they would lose in their later picks would be made up for in just how good Towns is, and how well he would fit alongside Randle.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!