Lakers Draft Prep: What are the Mock Drafts Saying?

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The week leading up the the NBA draft is what I like to call #smokescreenszn. It’s the time of the year where teams go into misinformation mode, looking to throw everyone off their tracks by disguising the scent of who they’re really after on draft night.

This makes the days leading up to the draft a time for discernment, not only in what you’re reading, but who you’re reading. In saying all that, however, looking at a variety of mock drafts can give you a sense of what types of players the analysts believe teams will take if not who they actually will select.

So, that’s exactly what we did. Below is a list of various outlets/people who offer their opinions of who the Lakers will target on draft night. (Note: some of the mocks I looked at did not include 2nd round selections, in those cases, I wrote “n/a” for the 2nd pick.)

Sports Illustrated
#25: Keita Bates-Diop, F, Ohio State
#47: Jarred Vanderbiolt, F/C, Kentucky

ESPN/Draft Express
#25: Grayson Allen, G, Duke
#47: Malik Newman, PG/SG, Kansas

CBS – Gary Parrish
#25: Zaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech
#47: n/a

USA Today
#25: Josh Okogie, SG, Georgia Tech
#47: Omari Spellman, C, Villanova

The Athletic – Sam Vecenie
#25: De’Anthony Melton, G, USC
#47: Devon Hall, G/F, Virginia – David Aldridge
#25: Mitchell Robinson, C, Chalmette (La) Highschool
#47: n/a

The Sporting News – Sean Deveney
#25: Mitchell Robinson, C, Chalmette (La) Highschool
#47: n/a

SB Nation
#25: Mitchell Robinson, C, Chalmette (La) Highschool
#47: n/a

Bleacher Report
#25: Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova
#47: n/a

First, it’s easy to detect some themes. Most teams have the Lakers looking at guards with at least one (if not both) of their picks.

ESPN/Draft Express has the Lakers selecting Grayson Allen, updated from De’Anthony Melton in their previous mock. Melton is also mocked to the Lakers by USA Today. Sam Vecenie at The Athletic, the crew at Bleacher Report, and Gary Parish of CBS also has a backcrout player going to the Lakers.

This should not be a surprise at all. The Lakers currently only have three guards under contract for next season — Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, and Alex Caruso (who is on a 2-way contract). The team finished the year with Andre Ingram getting significant minutes in the backcourt. They need help at these positions (as well as the wing) and the fact that Allen, Melton, and Smith — even with differing and varying skill sets — are looked at as viable targets makes a ton of sense. The depth chart spells it out.

After a guard, center is the most popular position by the mock drafters with Mitchell Robinson, specifically, being the target. We touched on Robinson when we discussed whether the Lakers should draft for need; he’s a C who can play above the rim and offers an element of vertical spacing the Lakers currently lack in their assortment of big men.

Center is sort of an in-between need positionally by the team, since it’s very much possible they bring back one, if not both, of Julius Randle and Brook Lopez with Ivica Zubac and Thomas Bryant having non-guaranteed contracts for next year.

If all 4 of those players return, Robinson would bring a lot of positional overlap even if he offered a different type of game than those incumbents. However, there are scenarios where none of those guys return and, in that case, the team would desperately need a player of Robinson’s size (to say nothing of his what he brings from a skill standpoint).

What does all this mean for the Lakers? Well, it’s hard to say. The team is likely at the point of their development where targeting a position or finding specific skills in players they draft makes sense. Whether the team makes a splash in free agency or not, they have an established core of young players they believe in and supplementing them in ways which make sense for the long term growth and development of the roster offers a clear path for team building.

However, the Lakers are also selecting at the back end of the 1st round and the mid 2nd round. Most teams in those situations take BPA (best player available) and call it a day. After all, the expected return on picks this late are not good in the aggregate, even though this Lakers scouting group has exhumed some real talent in selections just like the ones they’ll have on Thursday (Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Jordan Clarkson).

If the Lakers determine the best player available is a combo forward who has overlap with Ingram or Kuzma they could select that guy very easily. The point in the draft is to always find a guy who can be a long term part of your roster and that typically means selecting the guy you have highest on your board.

Getting too cute and selecting multiple same position players in the same draft or in back to back years (hi there, David Kahn) isn’t necessarily the best plan, but it’s not always that simple since we’re also talking about skill sets and how those mesh and whether these guys can, ultimately, share the floor together long term.

Who the Lakers end up with on draft night remains an unknown. But, if the mocks can be believed, it will likely be some combination of guard and big man, with guys like Melton, Allen, or Robinson all in the mix — especially since mock consensus has all being selected in or around the range the Lakers pick. We’ll see where things fall on Thursday, though.

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