The first day of on-court activities at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago is in the books, and the players were not the only ones who were active on Thursday.
The Los Angeles Lakers were busy setting up workouts with some of the lower-ranked prospects in this year’s draft class and interviewing some of its top players. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak is preparing for all possibilities that could take place on Tuesday’s NBA Draft Lottery, and if the team retains its top-three protected pick, he will have already jumpstarted the process.
Amidst a day that Kupchak interviewed two potential options if Los Angeles ends up with the No. 3 pick in the draft, he made time for a player that could end up being the top choice: Brandon Ingram.
The Los Angeles Daily News’ Mark Medina reports that the 18-year-old Ingram spoke with the Lakers on Thursday in Chicago.
Some draft prospects skipped the event entirely, including LSU forward Ben Simmons and Croatian forward Dragan Bender. Other talent skipped the skills tests and media interviews, including Duke forward Brandon Ingram, Oklahoma City forward Buddy Hield and Kentucky guard Jamal Murray. The Lakers still interviewed Ingram, though they have not had any formal contact with Simmons yet.
Ingram and Simmons are the clear-cut, top-two prospects in the 2016 NBA Draft class. Both are vying for the top overall pick, and it just might come down to whichever team ends up winning the lottery.
The Lakers have a 37.8 percent chance of landing in the top-two of the NBA Draft for the second consecutive season and a 55.8 percent chance of staying in the top-three. Ingram is the ideal fit with the Lakers’ current young core, though many believe Simmons — D’Angelo Russell’s high school teammate — has higher superstar potential.
With the notion of not having a first round pick looming large, the Lakers and their fans would be more than happy with either one. Will they have a chance to draft either of these two freshman phenoms? We will find out Tuesday night.