While much of the speculation surrounding the Los Angeles Lakers and their participation in the 2014 NBA Draft has been centered around a possible trade of the pick, there is a new report that stands to the contrary. Recent leanings have the Lakers making a decision between former Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart and former Kentucky foward Julius Randle with their seventh overall selection, and now, the aforementioned report indicates that Los Angeles is likely to stay at that draft position.
Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles brings the latest:
Whether the Lakers end up picking Smart, Randle, or somebody else, the team is leaning towards keeping their No. 7 pick rather than trading down in order to acquire multiple picks, according to a source with knowledge of their thinking.
While it’s widely believed that there is a gap in the talent available after Kansas’ Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins and Duke’s Jabari Parker go off the board, the Lakers feel there is another gap between the player they have rated 10th versus who they have at 11th and below, so it’s not like they could flip their pick for say Phoenix’s No. 14 and No. 18 picks and still come out in with a player they are totally sold on.
Until the draft occurs, almost everything should be treated with a grain of salt, but this does make some sense for the Lakers. Los Angeles desperately needs a real building block, and with the astronomical cost it would take to move into the top-3 (something the Lakers likely can’t accommodate), Mitch Kupchak and company would be wise to stay put and draft a very solid player like Smart or Randle.
As long as they employ Kobe Bryant and employ the same organizational legacy that resonates throughout the country, the Los Angeles Lakers will be one of the big players in the NBA, and this draft could prove pivotal for the organization.