2011 NBA Draft: 5 Players Mitch Kupchak and the L.A. Lakers Should Trade Up For
With the 2011 NBA Draft now just 10 days away, L.A. Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak may look to package his four second-round draft picks along with a current player to trade up into the first round of this year's draft.
Look, the Lakers aren't drafting four guys in the second round, because the chances that any of those players would make the team is extremely slim. Yes, Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter were second-round picks last year that made the team, but there simply isn't room on the roster for any more second-tier talent that may end up in the D-League. The Lakers need quality depth, period.
Ebanks will definitely be back on the team next season and Caracter most likely will be brought back as well. I wouldn't be surprised if Trey Johnson earns a roster spot in training camp. either; he's an extremely athletic wing and an explosive scorer on the perimeter, two traits the Lakers are desperately seeking. You aren't going to find anyone better than Trey Johnson late in the second round of the draft.
There will be a couple of openings on the roster as Joe Smith and Theo Ratliff will not be returning, but Kupchak will certainly look to the free agent market to fill those spots.
So if the Lakers are indeed able to package their picks along with another player on their roster to move up into the first round, who can they realistically target?
5. Shelvin Mack, PG/SG, Butler
Shelvin Mack (6'2", 205) is projected as a late first-round pick and could provide the Lakers with quality backcourt depth off the bench. Mack is a pure scorer who primarily played shooting guard in college, but will have to transition into a point guard at the next level.
Mack's draft stock shot up after averaging over 20 points per game in the NCAA Tournament last year; proving to everyone that he was NBA-ready after his junior season.
He scored 30 points against Pitt in the second round, 27 against Florida in the Elite Eight, and 24 against VCU in the Final Four.
Mack's shooting percentage did suffer a fairly significant drop from his sophomore to junior season and may be an area of concern for teams considering him in the first round.
4. Nolan Smith, PG/SG, Duke
Nolan Smith (6'3", 189) averaged 20 points per game last season for Duke and benefited greatly from Kyrie Irving's toe injury because it allowed him to showcase his ability to play the point.
Smith also averaged 5.1 assists, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.2 steals while shooting 46 percent from the field, 81 percent from the free throw line, and 35 percent from three.
Smith has NBA range and will contribute at the next level immediately due to this ability to shoot the three-point shot with consistency from the point guard position.
The Lakers could do much worse than trading up to draft Nolan Smith, a proven winner who would fit right in with their long established winning culture.
3. Marshon Brooks, SG, Providence
Marshon Brooks (6'5", 195) has been skyrocketing up NBA Draft boards as more teams realize he is ready to contribute instant offense immediately at the next level.
Brooks has been compared to Jordan Crawford (6'4", 195) of the Washington Wizards by nearly every scout and that's certainly not a bad thing.
Especially considering the fact that Crawford averaged 19.5 points per game over the Wizards' final 20 games. Personally, I think Brooks is better than Crawford and would be a nice option off the bench for the Lakers to help spell Kobe Bryant.
2. Alec Burks, PG/SG, Colorado
Another late riser up NBA Draft Boards, Alec Burks (6'6", 193) comes NBA-ready with great size and the ability to get to the rim whenever he wanted to at the college level. Burks is a slasher who uses his size to get his own shot and finish in traffic with either hand.
He definitely needs to spend some time in an NBA weight room, but his long-term upside can't be ignored. Burks has often been compared to former Laker Eddie Jones (6'6", 190), a comparison that would make any Lakers fan smile.
1. Darius Morris, PG, Michigan
Darius Morris (6'4", 190) could be the Lakers' point guard of the future. He has great size for a lead guard and is extremely confident in his ability.
He averaged 15 points, 6.7 assists, and 4.0 rebounds per game as a sophomore last year for Michigan and it made it clear that he was ready to take his game to the NBA.
Morris has a world of potential and just needs to develop a consistent jump shot before becoming a starting point guard at the next level for many years to come.