2013 NBA Draft: 12 Targets That Make Perfect Sense for LA Lakers
Although the Los Angeles Lakers don’t have a first-round pick in the 2013 NBA draft and won’t make their only selection until pick No. 48 of the second round, there will still be targets on the board that make perfect sense for a team in disarray.
The Lakers' 2013 offseason will be highlighted by Kobe Bryant’s rehab following an Achilles tear, and by whether or not the enigma that is Dwight Howard will decide to stay in Lakerland past this summer.
Of course, that fails to mention the whereabouts of Pau Gasol, Steve Nash and Metta World Peace.
Gasol still has more than $19.2 million remaining on his contract and will continue to be a name involved in trade rumors.
Nash still has two years remaining on his contract, and he did very little to justify the sign-and-trade between the Lakers and Phoenix Suns throughout an injury-riddled 2012-13 campaign.
World Peace, meanwhile, could be targeted by the amnesty clause this summer in order for the Lakers to dump some salary.
Needless to say, the 2013 NBA draft is a much-needed distraction for Lakers fans. Although the chances L.A. gets an impact player after 47 others leave the draft board are slim, teams have hit home runs in the second round in the past.
Chandler Parsons, Manu Ginobili, Paul Millsap, Monta Ellis and Carlos Boozer were all selected in the second round. In fact, you may recall that when the Lakers held the 48th pick in the 2007 draft, they nabbed future All-Star Marc Gasol (who allowed the Lakers to net his older brother Pau via trade).
The Lakers would really benefit from having a first-round selection, but they’ll have to make due with one second-round choice following a slew of trades.
Note: List numbers are for reader’s convenience, not necessarily listing the prospects from better to best fit.
12. D.J. Stephens, Memphis
Considering that D.J. Stephens was widely projected to go undrafted in 2013 before pre-draft workouts, this pick would be viewed as a considerable reach by the Los Angeles Lakers in the middle of the second round.
Nevertheless, Stephens has been sneaking up draft boards after recording an absolutely ludicrous 46-inch vertical at a Brooklyn Nets workout. That was the highest vert ever measured by the NBA, according to ESPN’s Chad Ford via Twitter.
Stephens did earn Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year as a senior by leading Memphis with 95 blocks, per Sean Meagher of Oregon Live. But if the Lakers take him in the middle of Round 2, they’re doing so based solely on athleticism and potential.
His athletic ability and defensive prowess are huge positives, but a 6’5” frame won’t translate well to the NBA when you consider that Stephens fits best as a small forward.
Defensive skills and athleticism can only do so much against bigger, stronger NBA talents.
11-9. Nemanja Nedovic/Bojan Dubljevic/Marko Todorovic, International
I’m a big fan of the “stash overseas” option available to NBA teams, especially when general managers choose to do so in the second round of the draft.
The chances teams draft an impact player in Round 2 are remote at best. As a result, often times it’s ideal to draft an international player who will continue to develop by playing overseas. It doesn’t always work out, but former international second rounders like Marc Gasol and Luis Scola have had successful careers by taking their time getting to the NBA.
Nemanja Nedovic (PG/SG), Bojan Dubljevic (PF/C) and Marko Todorovic (C) are all options that should be available to L.A. in the middle of the second round.
Nedovic is an athletic 6’3” point guard who excels in transition. Dubljevic is the prototypical jump-shooting power forward with limited athletic abilities (think Luis Scola). Todorovic has a solid 6’10” frame with plenty of room to grow moving forward.
It’s unlikely that any of those three players would make an immediate impact, but they all have potential to help the Lakers a few years down the road.
8. Mike Muscala, Bucknell
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Mike Muscala played all four years at Bucknell, improving statistically in each progressive season.
He tore up the Patriot League as a senior, averaging 18.7 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.4 blocks and 2.3 assists per game. He eclipsed 50 percent shooting from the field for three straight collegiate seasons, and he’s a very consistent free-throw shooter.
There’s plenty to like about the big man, but he did himself no favors in the NCAA tournament by finishing with nine points on 4-of-17 shooting against Butler.
Muscala will never be an All-Star at the NBA level. However, with Pau Gasol entering the final year of his contract and Dwight Howard entering unrestricted free agency, the Lakers could use some depth in the frontcourt. The injury to Jordan Hill really hurt the Lakers down the stretch, so having another big body available would provide a good safety net.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that Muscala will even be available to the Lakers at pick No. 48. He could be picked earlier, but the Lakers should consider him a target regardless.
7. Carrick Felix, Arizona State
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The ability of Carrick Felix to play solid basketball on both ends of the court makes him an intriguing second-round prospect. He was repeatedly given the responsibility of defending the opposing team’s best player while at Arizona State University.
Even with that burden, he still managed to average 14.6 points per game. He also shot 50 percent from the field and 37.4 percent from beyond the arc.
The Los Angeles Lakers will need to make up the huge void left by Kobe Bryant as he recovers from injury, and while Felix doesn’t have anywhere near the skills of Bryant, he could make an impact by scoring efficiently and taking on tough defensive assignments.
His role would be diminished significantly when Bryant makes his return, but if Felix could be taken under Bryant’s wing, the Lakeshow may find a diamond in the rough with the Sun Devil.
6. Erik Murphy, Florida
Erik Murphy would have been listed higher if there was a greater chance he’d fall to the Lakers at pick No. 48. As it stands, his stock is rising and he should be off the board early in the second round.
During his senior season, the Florida Gator shot an incredibly efficient 45.3 percent from beyond the three-point arc. As a 6’10” power forward who can spread the floor with his outside shooting, he’s a prototypical fit in Mike D’Antoni’s offensive system.
Playing Pau Gasol away from the basket was a disaster for the Lakers last season. The veteran simply wasn’t comfortable playing away from the hoop and shooting mid-range jumpers and threes all game long (for obvious reasons). Murphy, however, fits perfectly in that role.
Much like Channing Frye in Phoenix, Murphy is a big body who can spot up and drain threes. Playing alongside two-time MVP Steve Nash in L.A. would make for an easy transition to the pros.
5. Grant Jerrett, Arizona
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Hearing the news that Grant Jerrett would declare for the 2013 NBA draft, instead of returning to the University of Arizona for his sophomore season, was befuddling. He averaged just 5.2 points and 3.6 rebounds per game for the Wildcats as a freshman, and Jeff Goodman of CBS Sports wrote that Jerrett “could go undrafted” at the time of his declaration.
Despite the head-scratching decision, Jerrett’s stock has been on the rise for one key reason: He’s a big guy who can shoot.
Much like Florida’s Erik Murphy, the 6’10” Jerrett has a soft touch from beyond the arc—a rarity among big men his age. He made 32 of his 79 attempts from deep at Arizona (40.5 percent).
Labeling Jerrett a one-trick pony at this point in his career isn’t far off the mark. If he got the court time, he would have benefited from staying at UA for another season. Nevertheless, he has the talent necessary to stick in the NBA.
If Murphy isn’t around when the Lakers pick, Jerrett won't be a bad consolation prize as a big man who can spread the floor.
4. Solomon Hill, Arizona
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Continuing with players from the Old Pueblo, Solomon Hill out of the University of Arizona is another prospect the Lakers should consider targeting.
As a UA alumni and fan, I had the luxury of watching Hill play throughout his collegiate career. He stands out as a fearless leader on the court who doesn’t shy away from big moments and adversity.
He certainly doesn’t have the freak athleticism of other players in this draft. Rarely does he “wow” fans with highlight plays (even though he did have some explosive dunks as a Wildcat). His maturity and versatility, however, are two traits that make him a safe pick later in the draft.
Metta World Peace may be targeted by the amnesty clause, and Earl Clark is an unrestricted free agent who could get overpaid by a desperate team. The small forward position appears to be dwindling in Lakerland, and a versatile player with a high basketball IQ would fill that spot nicely.
The Lakers already have one Wildcat surnamed Hill on the roster with big man Jordan Hill. Perhaps they'll double down in the 2013 draft by adding Solo.
3. Vander Blue, Marquette
Marquette needed Vander Blue to step up after the Golden Eagles lost Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder to the NBA. In the absence of those two key players, Blue had a solid season. He averaged 14.8 points per game on 45.4 percent shooting, but he truly shined in the NCAA tournament.
During Marquette’s impressive run to the Elite Eight, Blue averaged 18.3 points per game on 36.8 percent shooting from downtown. Those numbers were highlighted by a 29-point outburst against sixth-seed Butler and a game-winning lefty layup in the first round against Davidson (see video).
Again, with Kobe Bryant sidelined for the foreseeable future, the Lakers need to find some offense. Blue may not be the best fit for the job, but he should be available when the Lakers are on the clock.
2. Peyton Siva, Louisville
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With Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Chris Duhon on the Lakers' depth chart at point guard, the amount of youth at the position is rather limited. Nash missed 32 games due to injury, while Blake played just 45 of 82 regular-season games in 2012-13.
At 39 years old, it’s unrealistic to think that Nash can play big minutes for the remainder of his career. Adding a backup point guard who can provide fresh legs when Nash sits makes a lot of sense for the Lakers.
NCAA champion Peyton Siva isn’t the best point guard in the 2013 class by a long shot. However, his 18-point, six-rebound, five-assist, four-steal effort in the national championship game shows that he can perform on the big stage.
He’s undersized and he isn’t a great outside shooter (28.8 percent from deep as a senior). Nevertheless, he’s well coached coming out of Louisville, and he can be tutored by one of the best point guards ever.
1. Myck Kabongo, Texas
The sample size with Myck Kabongo is admittedly small. He was inconsistent in just 11 games played, but there was still a lot to like.
The good? A 31-point, eight-rebound, six-assist, four-steal effort in an overtime win against Oklahoma. Kabongo attacked the basket and reached the charity stripe 14 times.
The bad? Trying to do too much on the court, as he averaged 3.4 turnovers per game in those 11 contests.
The ugly? A 0-of-12 shooting performance against Texas Tech with five turnovers.
Kabongo definitely has some maturing to do before his overall game is polished. However, his great quickness allows him to penetrate to the bucket and score, or kick the ball out to teammates for open looks. He’s extremely unselfish with great court vision, which makes him an ideal candidate to learn from Steve Nash.
His athleticism would be a welcome addition to a Lakers team severely lacking in that category.