The Los Angeles Lakers have found themselves in unfamiliar territory the past three seasons. Instead of competing for championships like the fan base has become accustomed to, the Lakers have seen their win total diminish until hitting the franchise’s worst mark at 17-65 in 2015-16, making the NBA Draft just about the only thing to get excited about.
After adding Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, D’Angelo Russell, Larry Nance, Jr. and Anthony Brown in the previous two drafts, the Lakers found themselves in position to add one of the two prized prospects in the 2016 NBA Draft after a little more lottery luck back on May 17.
Once Ben Simmons was officially drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers like everyone expected, it cleared the way for the Lakers to select Brandon Ingram with the second overall pick, filling a massive need at the small forward position with a player that many believe could end up being the best player in this draft, eventually reaching an All-Star level.
General manager Mitch Kupchak and the rest of the Lakers front office are building a bright future for the team, and they realize how well the potential that Ingram possesses can factor into their future success. There are many things to like about Ingram and his future with the Lakers, but Kupchak is thinking big picture with his newest lottery pick.
“I guess if I had to pick one thing, it would be potential,” Kupchak said. “We think with his upside and the potential in him — right now there is no ceiling on him.”
Ingram was so highly coveted by the Lakers that Kupchak admitted there was still a bit of “anticipation” while Philadelphia was on the clock, though Simmons was the player they expected to go No. 1 overall.
The Lakers were certainly not the only team that coveted Ingram, though. When asked about the possibility of trading the pick, he noted just how interested other teams were.
“As you might imagine, there is a lot of interest in the No. 2 pick,” Kupchak said. “Obviously there’s nothing that piqued our interest, although at this time of year teams are serious.”
Despite immense interest from teams around the league, keeping the pick and selecting a potential future cornerstone was an easy choice for Kupchak. “We listened. Yeah, there were a lot of calls. There’s nothing there that made sense for us to consider.”
Kupchak and the rest of the front office have remained patient throughout the entire process, despite many believing they would try to expedite the rebuild to pursue a star player such as Jimmy Butler in a trade. Now, they have one of the most promising, young cores in the NBA.
There is still plenty of work left to be done, but the Lakers are on the right track to reestablishing themselves as a force in the NBA for many years to come because of the amount of young talent they have gathered.
The post-Kobe Bryant era is off to an ideal start, adding a promising option in Luke Walton as head coach, and now another cornerstone to add to the foundation of talent already build. As glorious and illustrious as the past twenty years have been with Bryant being a leader of the organization, Kupchak is focused on what comes next for the Lakers: A future that appears to be very bright.
“Despite the fact that we’re losing an icon that’s been with us for 20 years, this is a new chapter going forward.”
All quotes transcribed via Lakers.com.