The NBA draft is weeks away and the LA Lakers are reportedly targeting Jahlil Okafor, Kristaps Porzingis and D'Angelo Russell with the number two pick, as reports have the Minnesota Timberwolves likely taking Karl-Anthony Towns and that leaves the Philadelphia 76ers and New York Knicks to wait and see who falls in the top 4.
The lead up to the draft always has tons of misinformation and lies spread out from agents, but this year there are some clear facts, including that scouts see Jahlil Okafor and Karl-Anthony Towns as the top rated prospects. Okafor has been pegged as the top overall pick in the draft since the season started and as the NCAA Tournament was going on, Towns was pushed as the likely pick. According to Pro Basketball Talk, the consensus a few weeks out is that the Wolves are deciding on Okafor or Towns and leaning towards the Kentucky big man.
The Timberwolves won the draft lottery to get the number one pick and they likely will choose between Okafor and Towns. The prevailing thought about what the Lakers will do is that they will pick whatever player is left over between Towns and Okafor, but recent reports have things a bit more complicated than that. According to Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com, some unnamed executives in the league told sources that the Lakers should consider D'Angelo Russell at number two, while other scouts have pushed Porzingis as a legitimate option.
The Lakers have needs in the front court and the back court and this decision could be a huge factor in how the team gets built over the summer. Even with Jordan Clarkson emerging, there is a good case for the Lakers to take a guard like Russell or Emmanuel Mudiay, as they have been lacking at the PG position. But with Julius Randle coming off of foot surgery, it could be prudent to take another big man, especially with the scouts seeing Towns and Okafor among the safer picks in this draft.
Scouts say this draft is not as deep in past years and with players like Towns and Okafor as well as Russell at the top, the Lakers should consider one of those names and not a European like Porzingis. Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports that Porzingis is "in play" for the Sixers with the number three pick and his recent workout has given the "Lakers something top ponder" at number two. One scout called Porzingis the best player in the draft, but some teams have been wary of taking him since he played in Europe, although the league in Spain is considered to be second best in the world by many in basketball circles.
The Lakers would love to have the dilemma of picking either Towns or Okafor along with Russell, as that would give them a clear choice of need at the number two spot. Russell has worked out for the Knicks and the Sixers are likely going to take him if he is available at number three. The Lakers would be wise to stick with Okafor or Towns at number two, as both players are considered to be good enough to be starters in the NBA, although they may need some time to develop. The Lakers are picking this high for the first time in years and Mitch Kupchak wants to get it right.