Whether they advance deep into the playoffs or bow out early, the Los Angeles Lakers most definitely need alterations to their roster this summer.
And though they have been giving up first-round draft choices as if they were old socks, the Lakers still own a late second-round pick in June and could find a diamond in the very, very rough underbelly of the NBA draft.
Perfect example: Sacramento point guard Isaiah Thomas was the No. 60 player chosen a year ago and is now being talked about as a possible rookie of the year.
The 5'9" former Washington Husky started 37 games for the Kings, averaging 11.5 points, 4.1 assists and just 1.6 turnovers in 25 minutes per game. He also shot 45 percent from the field and 38 percent from beyond the arc.
L.A. gave up their first-round pick to Cleveland when they acquired starting point guard Ramon Sessions in March. They gave up another first-round selection (received from Dallas in the Lamar Odom deal) to Houston when they traded Derek Fisher on the same day in order to get Jordan Hill.
The Lakers have the 60th selection via a second-round pick from Chicago in 2010. They are in need of a shooting guard, small forward and a power forward but not necessarily in that order. With one of the worst benches in the league, the Lakers need players...period.
If L.A. does decide to use the draft, there are a handful of players worth considering. The Lakers' recent second-round picks (Devan Ebanks, Darius Morris, Andrew Goudelock, Derrick Caracter) have all contributed some but are still works in progress.
Somewhere in this upcoming draft there are surprises—it will be up to L.A. brass to find that player. Here are just a few possibilities:
Kim English (Missouri)—English was one of the stars at the recent Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (PIT).
At 6'6", English is a natural shooting guard, though he did run the point at PIT and was quite effective. The Missouri senior helped lead his team to both the Big 12 Conference Championship and a high seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Ranked No. 63 in the draft by Hoopsworld, English would be an excellent addition to the Lakers. His biggest strength is his jump shot from just about anywhere on the court.
As a Tiger, English averaged 14.5 points on 52 percent from the field and 46 percent from-three point range.
Hollis Thompson (Georgetown)—This 6'8" "stringbean" with the 6'10" wingspan is No. 55 on the HW board, but he could be available.
According to HoopsWorld:
"Thompson's calling card is his perimeter shooting, where he's proven to be outstanding, knocking down a career-high 48 percent from three-point range this season, despite an increase in attempts.
"He has textbook form, deep range and a quick release, which along with his size at 6'8”, allow him to get off his shot without needing much space. Thompson ranks as one of the best shooters in college basketball, which in and of itself is enough to put him firmly on the NBA radar."
Ricardo Ratliffe (Missouri)—The 6'8", 240 pound center/forward is ranked 63rd. He may go higher, but the Lakers would not hurt themselves by taking the epitome of scoring efficiency.
Ratliffe was the No. 1 JUCO transfer when he came to Mizzou two years ago and has proven to be one of the most effective scorers in NCAA history.
Averaging 26.2 minutes per game, Ratliffe's impressive numbers were 14 points on 70 percent (NCAA record) from the floor. He also averaged 7.5 rebounds.
HoopsWorld wrote Tiger big man:
"Ratliffe is not afraid to throw his weight around inside the paint, and his combination of length and extremely soft hands makes him a very reliable target for his guards to dish the ball to.
"He does an exceptional job of finishing plays with very soft touch, being capable of finishing with either hand around the basket and using the glass very well. Finishing 80 percent of his shots around the basket (No. 1 in the NCAA), Ratliffe is almost automatic within five feet, despite the fact that he rarely tries to play above the rim."
Other diamonds in the rough for the Lakers to consider include Mitchell Watt, a 6’9” forward from Buffalo; William Buford, a 6'6" senior SG from Ohio State; Kevin Murphy, a 6’7” guard from Tennessee Tech; and Chace Stanback, a silky smooth 6’8” SG from UNLV.
Stanback went to Fairfax High School in Los Angeles. NBADraft.net has him going to his hometown Lakers with that second-round pick.
According to NBADraft.net:
"Stanback makes the game look criminally simple at times by knocking down jumpers effortlessly. His numbers outside of the scoring aren’t out of this world, but the combination of his .464 3-point percentage as a senior on nearly 200 attempts and his 6’8” size is. A motivated and focused Chace Stanback is an NBA player."
The Lakers have had some of the best first-round picks in NBA history. The second round is much tougher, and L.A. will be hard pressed to find a gem.
Time to start mining.