Talking Draft: Need vs Best Player

Darius Soriano —  June 9, 2011

With the draft only 14 days away, it’s time to start to discuss what the Lakers may do when they’re on the clock. With 4 second round picks the Lakers have quantity, but the key will be finding some quality in a part of the draft that doesn’t often produce impact players. Last year, the Lakers were able to pick up two quality young players and both ended up making the team. And while neither got much burn (which was to be expected considering the experienced veterans and talent ahead of them on the depth chart), both look like they could become players that contribute in future seasons.

An underrated part of the Lakers draft last year is that both Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter were talented guys that fell on draft night (at least in the Lakers eyes) but also happened to play positions of need. Remember, coming off the championship year of 2010, the Lakers had questions at SF with Luke Walton’s injury, had not yet signed Matt Barnes, and had let Adam Morrison walk in free agency. They’d also let Josh Powell and DJ Mbenga leave in free agency and were short on big men. When thinking long term, the Lakers certainly needed to invest in a wing player and a big man and happened to find both late in the draft. This was the classic case of where need and the best players on their board intersected.

However, this year they may not be as lucky and it will be interesting to see what the Lakers strategy will be when it’s time to select a player.

For what it’s worth, Mitch Kupchak has already given us a bit of a hint as to what his strategy may be. In the interview we linked to earlier this week, Kupchak explained, “At that point in the second round, if somebody drops that you didn’t think would drop you probably just take him regardless of position.”

In a way, the Lakers are “lucky” in that there’s a solid argument to be made that they have a need at every position. With the uncertainty of Shannon Brown returning, the collective age and talent level at point guard, and the lack of big man depth, the Lakers could select a player at any position and rationalize that they’re filling a need.

However, when you drill down, I’d argue that the big man need is more at C than at PF and that the need on the wing is at SG rather than at SF. These points are arguable but if you take Ebanks and Caracter into account, this is mostly true. If the Lakers come on the clock and it’s a choice between a talented player at PF and one slightly less talented at C whom to they take? What if it’s the same choice between a SF and a SG? Or, what if it’s between a PG and a C? Which need wins out more?

My preference would be to go after the following positions in this order: PG, SG, C, PF, SF if talent is equal. However, if there’s a SF that’s much more talented than any other prospect when the Lakers’ first pick comes up, things get a bit trickier. Do they bite the bullet, draft that player, and expect to carry 5 SF’s next year (Artest, Barnes, Walton, Ebanks, and rookie X)?

Those are the questions that the Lakers brain trust will have to answer when it’s their turn to pick. And we haven’t even gotten into other variables like age, upside, U.S. vs. foreign player, nor whether or not there are other concerns regarding character, work ethic, etc.

In two weeks we’ll have more answers but right now all we can do is speculate. What do you thing the priorities are? What positions would you target? Do you draft for need or for best player? Let me know in the comments and we’ll compare notes as we all anticipate who the Lakers will select in 14 days.

Darius Soriano

Posts

17 responses to Talking Draft: Need vs Best Player

  1. Would another team bite at trading a top 10-15 pick for 3 or all 4 of our second round picks? Maybe this is out of the question, but I want to see what others think.

    Also, I think next year’s draft will be loaded with real, ready-to-play NBA talent, so maybe we trade some of this year’s second round picks for a 1st rounder next year. I know neither is likely to happen, but it would be interesting if they did.

  2. I want Jimmer Fredette on this team. I can’t imagine what getting tutelage from Kobe Bryant could do for this guy’s career. He would be a perfect fit in the triangle that we aren’t going to run any longer…. :P

    By the way- I’m from Utah originally and it causes me much stomach churning to admit that I would like this kid on my beloved Lakers, due to the anti-BYU sentiments that I have had for 23 years.

  3. @1….I’d think the answer to that question is no. No team is going to carry 4 rookies and in a draft devoid of talent you might get a team to trade for young vet, but not 4 second round picks in an unimpressive draft. I think what is plausible is we package the two picks in the 40′s for a pick in the lat 20′s. The ideal target in this would Hofstra’s Charles Jenkins. Good size for point/combo guard and a good shooter as well. The good thing for this draft is its heavy on point guards and a lot of point guards who are under the radar types. If we hold onto all 4 picks we may be looking at a Norris Cole, Malcolm Lee, maybe even Darius Morris type. Morris is an interesting prospect 6-5 point guard and a good facilitator, but he’s shaky on the jump shot. I’d love to take a flyer on Isaiah Thomas with a pick in the 50′s. I just think he’d be a jittery JJ Barea type who is quick and would bring some added athleticism to the team, despite his smallish stature.

    @2 I doubt we’d even be in position to get Jimmer. Yes we need shooting, but his defense leads a lot to be desired. I think he’d be good with a proven point guard ahead of him and allowed time to develop, but his game is going to need a lot of work on the defensive end.

    As to Darius’ point about need vs. best player. Ordinarily i’m of the philosophy of taking bpa in the draft and filling need via free agency. Just so happens that this draft may coincide with both coming together. I like the fact that the second round is going to be littered with college veterans who’d be more adept at finding a niche. I doubt we keep all 4 picks. Look for a package of a couple picks to get higher either into the late 1st or early second. If we keep all 4, and i’m going with guys who I think would be there….at 41 Iman Shumpert (as I think Cole and Jenkins will be gone), at Malcolm Thomas from San Diego State. While he’s not a center, I don’t think there’s very many good center prospects left at this point. Thomas is a power forward who brings a lot of activity. At 56, Jimmy Butler small forward from Marquette. And at 58, David Lighty SG from Ohio State. I like Lighty’s competitiveness on the defensive end. Really either one or both of the latter picks can be replaced by Euro’s who can be stashed and developed. I doubt we pick and keep 4 guys, but to answer Darius’s question in a long-winded way, I think especially in the second round its imperative to take BPA and if that coincides with a need even better.

  4. I agree with the sentiment that at those places in the 2nd round, you just take best player available regardless of position. I also think it would be extremely beneficial if we could stash a couple players in Europe, since I doubt 4 second rounders would be able to make our team. Would Messina be able to help us out in this regard?

    Also, being a UCLA fan, I would be very pleased if we were able to get Tyler Honeycutt (although he may be too similar to Ebanks at this point) or Malcolm Lee (who I think would be an elite defender, and hopefully would be able to improve his jumper with help from Kobe). Other than that, I am all in for any type of athletic point guard.

  5. I’m stating the obvious we need speed and 3-pt shooting in the backcourt, especially at point guard. The second round (especially this year) is a crap shoot–you’re looking for a diamond in the rough.

    I’m for drafting multiple point guards and multiple floor-spacers, throwing them into the Summer League crucible and seeing if we have any keepers… You need as many bites at the apple as possible if you’re looking for a servicable PG in the second round…

  6. For the draft position without trading David Lighty….

    http://www.nbadraft.net/players/david-lighty

  7. Take the best player, no questions asked.

    There is absolutely no need that can be adequately filled by a rookie unless that rookie is in the top 10, and even then I’d seriously doubt anyone would get a crack. Would you put a rookie in charge at PG instead of Fisher or Blake?

    On the other hand, our positions of ‘depth’ are actually positions of ‘age,’ so even if there is some serious talent overlap, there’s still need for a rookie who could spell a minute or two. Of course this could be true-er for positions we need to fill, but we’re talking different levels of talent.

    Thus, you always pick for talent. If that coincides with a position in need AND if the talent is great enough to fill in right away, perfect. If not, it’s always better to groom players and sell high rather than carrying fillers who need to be taught then sent away when they’re capable.

  8. @1, @3

    I could see a team that’s near/over the cap trading away their first round pick so they can avoid the guaranteed contract. I think the Lakers did that last year.

  9. Based on what happened lately like firing the scouts, changing of the guards, I think Lakers will not make any kind of trades whether drafts or starters. Perhaps, they will make small tweaks in using their trade exception and trade someone in the 2nd unit. On the other hand, “if and when” Orlando, New Jersey or New Orleans are ready to talk in swapping marquee players, perhaps that would be the time to make the decision.

    On those 4 draft picks, watch for a PG, SG 3pts specialists, a Center or PF as a relief in case they trade one of the bigs. Who exactly are going out? Josh Smith and Theo Ratliff and possibly Shannon, therefore Lakers would try to find replacement plus of course a PG. Without a reliable PG and shooters, it’s difficult to compete on present state of NBA youth, speed and great shooting what we are witnessing in this Finals.

  10. I would get a lot of input from Brown. He worked his ass off for years in film study and tryouts and has probably developed a pretty good eye for NBA talent. Would go with the best man avialable,unless a PG really stood out enough to package some choices and move up to get him.

  11. ReignOnParades June 10, 2011 at 7:39 am

    Stash Europeans or sell all the picks to Comic Dans Gilbert

    By the way let’s not sell any more 1st round picks as the last time we did that we gave up Toney Douglas who is a good defender and shooter. Like a richer man’s Chalmers

    Meanwhile we invest like 8 million a year on Fish and Blake to be almost as good at stretching the floor and incomparably slower and less effective on defense.

  12. Strange coincidence. This year’s finals are following the same arc as last years.

    Game 1: Home team wins
    Game 2: Road team wins
    Game 3: Road team wins
    Game 4: Home team wins
    Game 5: Home team wins

    The question is are the Heat good enough to do as the Lakers did last year and win the next two games at home?

  13. Warren Wee Lim June 10, 2011 at 8:04 am

    The Lakers MLE will be the one to spell the difference of that quick PG Mike Brown seeks. Heck we’ve been missing that forever.

    A couple of trade scenarios are on tap particularly for one overpaid Spaniard outside the border.

  14. Since the team is no longer beholden to the Triangle, we can draft both the “best” player available as well as need (since we have a lot of need for young athletic players). With our 2nd round picks, I’d go crazy with selecting PGs, hoping that one of them sticks. I hope Brown is better at developing rookies, i.e., actually letting them play and make mistakes to improve. Phil’s teams operated on a 3-4 year cycle, and you never really saw rookies develop.

    Re: MLE, the Lakers have had a terrible history with the MLE. It may be abolished in the next CBA. Also, most MLE contracts require 3-5 years, which would ruin the Lakers plans for the 2014-15 season, when we will conceivably have $0 worth of contracts on the books. By making bad moves with the MLE, that could chip away at getting multiple “superstar” players in 2014.

  15. @13

    More than likely the MLE is history. Don’t count on it.

  16. @Warren

    Agreed. I think the Lakers need to send Crowe to the east. Thinking Cleveland may be interested to pair him with Varejao.

    If this happens #4 slot would guarantee us a quick PG.