The NBA draft is weeks away and D'Angelo Russell is getting attention from the LA Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves along with Karl-Anthony Towns, Jahlil Okafor and Emmanuel Mudiay and there is a chance he could go in the top 2 if he impresses in workouts leading up to the event and he also is a main target for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Heading into the draft Towns and Okafor are looking like the top two prospects and most mock drafts have those players going in the top two picks. The Timberwolves have the number one overall pick and the Lakers jumped in the lottery to number two, leaving the Sixers and Knicks next in the draft order. Towns and Okafor are getting attention, but some reports have Russell and Mudiay as real targets for the Lakers and there is chance they go with one of those players instead.
The Lakers are guaranteed to get a top prospect pickling at two, as they can get whoever the Timberwolves do not pick and they should get one of Mudiay, Russell, Towns or Okafor. According to Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com, the team may take a hard look at Russell, as the team has major need at point guard and that there is a "logical case to be made" for the Lakers taking the Ohio State point guard. Cooper also adds that the Timberwolves also could look at Russell as an option, but they likely will go with Okafor or Towns.
Cooper quotes an NBA exec saying that they "would take him No. 1," if they were Timberwolves and added that the Lakers should consider him at number two. The "consensus" by most mock drafts and analysts is for the Lakers to "inherit" whoever the Timberwolves leave over and take Towns or Okafor. The Lakers need a big man even with Julius Randle coming back and they could go the sage route and do that. Russell is young and with Jordan Clarkson emerging after making the All-rookie team, the Lakers could go with one of the big men.
Pro Basketball Talk writes that some see Okafor as redundant for the Lakers with Randle already on the team, as both players are better offensively than defensively. Towns likely would be considered if the Wolves go with Okafor at number one and Draft Express reports that Flip Saunders "really likes" Okafor and could consider taking him over Towns. The Lakers have been a mess the past couple seasons and they hope adding a prospect and signing some free agents will help turn things around quickly.
Chad Ford wrote after the lottery on ESPN that Mudiay and Okafor are the top two players on the draft board for the Lakers. The mock draft by Ford has Towns going number one with Okafor at number two, while Russell goes at three to the Sixers. The Knicks have Justise Winslow in that mock draft and many see the team picking either Winslow or Mudiay. Mudiay is an interesting option, as he played overseas last season and could be drafted anywhere from two through six. Mudiay reportedly has workouts with the Knicks, Lakers and Sixers before the draft.