With the Lakers tank-filled season, there’s a chance they could keep their top three pick. We already know that the top three picks in the upcoming draft could be three of Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson, and Jayson Tatum in some order. At least that’s what a lot of mock drafts out there project. One will find themselves coming to the Lakers if they do keep their pick, but who would be the best fit for the team?
The Lakers’ roster has nine players right now who could fill the forward positions in some way. While it’s unlikely that Metta World Peace will remain on the team next season, the Lakers should still look more strongly at the guards available.
Yes, they have D’Angelo Russell at point guard already, but some fans think he could end up as a trade piece in the offseason. While we won’t know if that’s true until it does or doesn’t happen, it wouldn’t hurt to consider a point guard in what seems to be a point guard heavy draft as far as the top picks go.
Fultz and Ball are both point guards and both current freshmen. Ball has the slight height advantage and could potentially work more in the shooting guard slot if the Lakers can keep both him and Russell. He would definitely need to bring up his horrible free throw percentage that is at 68.1% for the season. Fultz, however, averaged more points per game and looks to be a more pro-ready scorer. These two options would be the most ideal for the Lakers if they want to add another solid guard.
However, if they choose to go with another forward, Josh Jackson and Jayson Tatum are the top guys in that category. They have some similar stats, averaging roughly the same amount of points. Tatum has the much higher free throw percentage, though. This might not be a deal breaker for most, but the Lakers have had enough bad free throw shooters for it to be frustrating enough as a fan. Additionally, free throw percentage is often a good indicator of how good of an outside shooter a prospect can be in the NBA. Tatum shot more threes throughout the season and if the Lakers want someone who can spread the floor more often, he looks to be the better pick.
Offense isn’t the only thing the Lakers need. They need some better all-around players. Tatum can definitely provide that. In Duke’s first game against Troy for March Madness, he came up with two outstanding blocks. He can help the Lakers protect the rim and has the versatility to play on both sides of the ball. And let’s be honest, that’s really something the Lakers need. Ball might not be able to contribute in that way on defense, but he’s had his moments, too. He had multiple games this season where he had 4-5 steals. If he can keep up the active hands on defense, he could make that a strong part of his game.
I’m all for the Lakers having a lot of young talent on their team and if they take Lonzo Ball or Jayson Tatum, they’d have some great talent to work with. Both are high-energy guys who have what it takes to start contributing right away. If the Lakers manage to keep their pick and Russell, picking Ball would likely mean he’d be coming off of the bench. And with Tatum playing the same position as Ingram, he’d be in the same situation. However, either guy would be a good addition to the team. Here’s to hoping the Lakers get that pick and use it on one of these two players.