The Los Angeles Lakers received the second overall selection of the 2016 NBA draft during Tuesday night's lottery. It's a huge asset to have for general manager Mitch Kupchak, who is tasked with turning this once-elite franchise back into a championship contender.
But he isn't even sure if they will keep the pick as he spoke with the media after the lottery, via Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times:
Mike Bresnahan @Mike_Bresnahan
Kupchak: "Do we keep the pick? Do we trade the pick? That's something we haven't discussed."2016-5-18 00:37:37
Keeping the pick would ensure that the Lakers get either LSU's Ben Simmons or Duke's Brandon Ingram, two forwards that could develop into All-Stars in this league. They would also be added to a young Lakers core that includes guards D'Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson, along with forward Julius Randle.
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"Just looking at our white board, our depth chart, it’s easy to make an argument we need a player in our frontcourt,” Kupchak said via Lakers.com's Mike Trudell. “Having said that, it’s way too early or premature to say there is separation between two and three. We’ll start to work players out and bring them in.”
Simmons or Ingram could fill that frontcourt need as Kupchak expressed his confidence in his scouts and draft personnel, via Trudell:
I think our staff that is in charge of the domestic and international scouting is the best in the NBA. I trust them completely, and they’ve rewarded the franchise with really good players the last two years … If we do get the right players, we’ll go from five or six nice young players to six or seven, and that’s a significant jump.
Trading it, though, could be used to acquire an already-established star that could immediately contribute upon arrival.
Regardless, this pick can also prove valuable in luring big-name free agents this summer. The likes of Kevin Durant, Hassan Whiteside and Al Horford will be unrestricted free agents while DeMar DeRozan, who has a player option with the Toronto Raptors, has reportedly expressed his interest to join the Lakers, according to ESPN's Stephen A. Smith via Ryan Ward of Lakers Nation.
“I think we have something more to sell than we did a year ago,” Kupchak said.
While getting the No. 2 is great news for Kupchak and the Lakers, the lottery process was described by the general manager jokingly as "drama that really, at this stage of my life, is unnecessary," via Bresnahan.
Hopefully for Kupchak, the jokes stop there as the Lakers will try to go from a team that had their worst season in franchise history, with 17 wins in 2015-16, to a Western Conference contender in the near future.
One thing is for sure with Kupchak, though: "I don't want to be here [at the lottery] next year," via Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.
If the Lakers play their cards right and everything falls into place stemming from this No. 2 pick, then their chances of not being in the lottery in 2017 will definitely improve.
Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.