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After the revealing, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka discussed his reaction on a conference call with reporters.
“This is a powerful asset for us,” Pelinka said. “Our focus right now is going to be on doing all we can to have an incredibly successful year next year.”
Pelinka also mentioned the team’s change in mindset regarding the first-round pick after the significant lottery jump:
“But now it shifts, what we can get at four. I will tell you there are some incredibly talented, impact players there that we’re going to study deeply. And then of course we’ll canvas the league and see what value that pick has. But either of those options is an extraordinary win for the franchise … I already talked to [Lakers owner Jeanie Buss] and she is just thrilled. I think it should really be exciting for our fans. It’s an unexpected event for the Lakers and we’re certainly really blessed.”
Duke forward Zion Williamson figures to be the first pick followed by teammate RJ Barrett and Murray State point guard Ja Morant in either order to round out the top three.
That still leaves the Lakers with a host of intriguing options perhaps led by Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver and Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter, who currently close out HoopsHype’s NBA draft aggregate big board.
The question is whether the Lakers try to deal the pick in a package for a star player (perhaps the New Orleans Pelicans‘ Anthony Davis, who has been connected with L.A. for months) or use it themselves.
Pelinka noted that a trade was a possibility despite top-five picks routinely finding success in the Association:
“There are young players that come in in the top five of the Draft and have an immediate impact and do great things, even in the playoffs. We’re going to have to look really, really hard at the candidates we could select there and see if they can have an immediate impact on winning. There is a precedent around the league where young players have (had success). But again, if we can use (the pick) in a trade that solidifies us in a better way, we’ll look at that as well.”
If the Lakers decide to go the trade route for Davis, then they are bound to have competition with the New York Knicks, who hold the draft’s third selection. Ramona Shelburne of ESPN provided more details:
Ramona Shelburne @ramonashelburne
The possibility of the Knicks and Lakers in the 3 and 4 spots, potentially using those picks in competing Anthony Davis trade proposals, is incredible
Ramona Shelburne @ramonashelburne
That said, right now the value of the Knicks #3 pick is considerably higher than the Lakers #4 pick. The difference, of course, is the #4 pick is found money for the Lakers. While the #3 pick is obviously a disappointment for the Knicks.
The Knicks have the draft leverage over the Lakers, but L.A. can provide a better package of established pro players for Davis. Los Angeles has two second-overall picks in Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball as well as Kyle Kuzma, who was second on the team with 18.7 points per game last year.
New York has some talent itself led by young and exciting center Mitchell Robinson and point guard Dennis Smith Jr., but the Lakers have the edge.
We know where one superstar is headed with Williamson almost assuredly going to New Orleans, but we’ll see how the rest falls.