As the NBA Draft nears, speculation ramps up about which way teams are leaning and whether or not trades are possible. The Los Angeles Lakers are perhaps less involved in these rumors than any other team in the draft due to their position. As the team currently holds the second overall pick in what has been deemed by most experts as a two-man draft, the Lakers have the easy task of choosing between LSU’s Ben Simmons and Duke’s Brandon Ingram.
Nevertheless, there has been some slight rumors about the Lakers making a wholly unexpected move by passing on Ingram should he be available, as many expect him to be. The name that has been most linked in that scenario is Croatian big man Dragan Bender.
Bender is a bit of an unknown, playing very few minutes in Israel and in international tournaments. However, he has a very high ceiling as a skilled center with the potential to be a shooter on one end of the floor and a rim-protector on the other. His high potential has led many to compare him to Knicks’ rookie sensation Kristaps Porzingis.
But despite some sentiment that the Lakers could be enamored with the unique skillset (and extraordinary name) that Bender possesses, it appears that the team is not feeling bold enough to pass on Ingram to choose him, at least according to one report:
Told the Los Angeles Lakers have fallen out of interest in Dragan Bender. Sounds like No. 2 pick is Brandon Ingram.
— David Pick (@IAmDPick) June 5, 2016
This is obviously not a surprise. Ingram has been linked to the Lakers since the lottery results became official and the Duke small forward’s skillset and fit within the Lakers roster is too much to pass on. While many have drawn comparisons to LAL drafting D’Angelo Russell over Jahlil Okafor last season, this is not quite the same. Ingram does not have as big of a red flag as Okafor (defense) did coming into the draft. Additionally, he fits in much better into the Lakers’ current core.
While not a shock, this report just adds more evidence to what seems to be a near certainty at this point: Brandon Ingram will likely be a Los Angeles Laker by the end of this month.