L.A. traded away their first-round pick to the Phoenix Suns in the trade that sent Steve Nash to the Lakers. With Nash a year older, Kobe Bryant recovering from a torn Achilles and Dwight Howard creating yet another free-agency circus this summer, the team needs a rising star now more than ever.
Sure, the Lakers could find a diamond in the rough in the second round, but the odds of landing an impact player rise significantly if they are able to vault into the first round. That's why there have been rumors of a potential trade that would put L.A. in a more advantageous drafting position.
The Hawks own back-to-back picks in the first round (Nos. 17 and 18), and may be willing to package them together for the sake of moving up, insiders said.
As for the Lakers, their lone pick doesn’t come until midway through the second round (No. 48 overall). But, as usual, they’re supposedly willing to trade big man Pau Gasol in attempt to get younger. That may mean obtaining a pick, a younger player and a contract.
However, that deal hasn't picked up any steam with the draft inching closer and closer. So, if the Lakers choose to stick with their mid-second-round pick—or if they have no other choice—who will they take?
Here are some of the names that are being thrown around.
PG Phil Pressey, Missouri
Gary Parrish of CBS Sports predicts that L.A. will take point guard Phil Pressey out of Missouri. Pressey and the Tigers had a tough year in 2013, but in 2012 they finished 30-5 and won the Big 12 tournament.
If he falls to the Lakers, the 5’11” guard who averaged about 11 points and seven assists in 2013 will be able to back up Nash as the primary ball-handler. He could bring a lot of energy off the bench and has the potential to blossom into a quality NBA player.
F Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State
Draft Express pins the Lakers as selecting Deshaun Thomas from Ohio State. Thomas led the Big 10 in scoring with 19.8 points per game in 2013.
The 6’7” forward would provide scoring off the bench and could even work his way into L.A.'s starting lineup should injuries again derail the team next year. He can fill it up in bunches but probably wouldn’t be a consistent, reliable scoring option from the perimeter, as he connected on just 34 percent of three-point attempts for his collegiate career.
Thomas's ability to rebound (nearly six boards per game in 2013) would be huge, especially if D12 ditches L.A.
G Myck Kabongo, Texas
NBADraft.net’s mock draft predicts that Myck Kabongo from Texas will don the purple and gold next season. SB Nation’s scouting report on the Longhorn point guard says that his ceiling is high, but there is also bust potential:
Myck Kabongo initially declared for the draft last season, but decided to come back to improve his stock. Instead, an NCAA investigation into his workout with a professional trainer resulted in a 23-game suspension. When he came back, he averaged 15 points, 5.5 assists and five rebounds on 42 percent shooting. You can't even hold that against him too much, considering the state of the Texas team when he returned. They've had four players transfer or leave since the end of the season.
Kabongo has the explosiveness and playmaking ability to be able to succeed at the helm of an NBA offense. Whether or not he'd be able to do so consistently is another story.
G Seth Curry, Duke
The Chicago News Observer reported that Seth Curry from Duke has interviewed with the Lakers and two other teams, but he has not been able to work out due to offseason knee surgery.
Curry would be able to backup Bryant, if he returns healthy enough, as the team’s shooting guard.
If taken by L.A., he'd look to do exactly what he did at Duke—knock down jump shots. In 2013, Curry averaged 17.5 points per game while hitting 43.8 percent of his three-point attempts.
His ability to stroke it from downtown would pull defenders away from Howard on the post, allowing him to operate with fewer double-teams. Bringing in Curry would definitely be appealing to Howard, which is something that the Lakers must take into consideration.
PG Peyton Siva, Louisville
Lakers Nation reported that the team hosted a workout that included Louisville guard Peyton Siva. Siva is a scrappy player who knows how to win—he was the leader of this year's NCAA national champion—and what he lacks in size he’d make up in heart.
Nash is still productive yet his health and growing age make him unreliable. That leaves the door open for Siva, who could be a solid second-string point guard for the Lakers.
In addition to his ball-handling, Siva is also a lock-down defender. The team can't continue to cover up Nash's ineptitude on the defensive end, so being able to put Siva on opposing point guards would be a huge upgrade from last season.
G/F Carrick Felix, Arizona State
Yahoo! Sports lists Carrick Felix as the best available option for the team at the No. 48 slot. Felix is a 6’6” swingman from Arizona State who can score and rebound and contribute right away if he were selected by Lakers.
In 2013, he put up 14.6 and 8.1 rebounds per game for the Sun Devils.
Felix can rebound, block shots and score—all of which the Lakers desperately need more of. Draft Express describes Felix as an efficient, high-energy scorer:
On the offensive end, Felix is a very high energy player who does most of his damage operating off the ball, primarily through off-ball cuts, crashing the offensive glass, and spot-up opportunities leading to catch-and-shoot jumpers or straight-line drives. He has a good feel for getting open in the flow of the offense and sets himself up frequently for powerful dunks near the basket, both on simple catches under the rim or with one or two-dribble baseline drives. He can utilize touch when he needs to, and is solid with his finesse finishes, but prefers to rely on power more often, which is a big reason his 2P% has skyrocketed to 62.4 percent thus far this season.
I know that was a lot of information and different opinions to take in, but I’m going to hit you with one more viewpoint—mine.
The Lakers could potentially lose their two best players and two leading scorers—Bryant due to injury, Howard to free agency. There aren't any really surefire prospects who are going to come in and be able to dominate right away, but Los Angeles needs to take a chance on one who has potential.
Seth Curry is the best option for the Lakers with the 18th pick of the second round. He’s undersized and coming off of an injury, but Stephen Curry’s younger brother can flat out score.
Who is L.A going to turn to with the Mamba on the sidelines and D12 potentially on another team? Nash can’t create his own shot as frequently as he used to, which leaves Gasol as the only other viable option on offense.
Curry will come in firing from day one and give the Lakers something that they desperately need—scoring.
Regardless of whom the Lakers opt to choose on draft night, the team’s future could be contingent on whether or not the pick works out. 2013-14 might be a down year for L.A., but if the team makes the right move in the draft, its future will be a lot brighter.