I’ve always loved the NBA draft.
Not because of the human interest stories or because of the prognosticators telling us how player X will play in the pros because of his lengthy-motory-upside potential-character flawed-medical red flag condition. And certainly not because of the best player available lists, who’s a reach or a value pick, or the poking of holes into the games of these young men (must improve on “everything”).
I love the draft because today is a day these guys start their NBA careers and where they go from here will interest me a great deal. There are no games played today and no X’s and O’s to break down, but the players that get drafted today (and even some that don’t) will end up impacting the league in ways that we can’t foresee. Some of tomorrow’s best players will be picked up by a team today and that alone intrigues me. They’ll contribute to championship teams, hit big shots, win awards, and entertain us all as they do it. Every year we’re treated to a new batch of these guys trying to make their way. It’s great.
Of course, there’s more than that to it.
There also promises to be a lot of action. There will be trades. Trades of players, of picks, of draft slots, of players and picks to be named later, and conditional trades that are trades in name only. Twitter will be on fire, so will the comment sections of sites just like this one. There will be cheers and moans, high-fives and hung heads. There’s drama in the draft and that’s how we all like it (or at least how I like it).
Whether the Lakers are in the middle of any of this drama remains to be seen. In the past two days there have been many leaks to the press about what could happen with the Lakers. For example:
- The Lakers are interested in a late 1st round pick. They may choose to buy one or may look to deal a player (Ron?) for one.
- The Lakers are interested in a top 10 pick (or, more likely, a top 5 one) in order to grab one of the elite players in the draft. (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist?)
- The Hawks are interested in Pau Gasol. Their bait is Josh Smith (and potentially their late first round pick).
- The Grizzlies are interested in Pau Gasol. Their bait is Zach Randolph (and potentially their late first round pick).
- Outside of the draft buzz, there’s also reports that as part of a three-way trade the Lakers have interest in Mo Williams.
The Lakers may not do anything tonight besides hand their card in for the 60th pick and call it a day. There are prospects that can be had in that part of the draft and if nothing develops beyond making that pick, I can’t say I’d be disappointed (though I would be bored waiting).
However as Mitch Kupchak has said recently, he plans to be active in making calls around the league to take teams’ temperature about how players are valued (both his own and players he may like). These conversations may lead to abrupt thank you’s and hang ups or expansive talks. The reports we’re reading are surely part of this process playing out in a public way. This is today’s NBA.
Of note, however, is that Mitch has also been able to deftly identify talent at the top of the draft and in the trade market. Via trade, he’s turned assets into better players for the past several seasons and I distinctly remember rumblings of the Lakers interest in moving into the top of both Deron Williams’ and Brandon Roy’s drafts to nab them. Both of those guys turned into elite players within their first few seasons (though Roy’s career was cut short due to injuries).
Whether this leads to any action tonight remains to be seen. The Lakers have surely have multiple plans of action they’re trying to implement and how their night plays out will likely depend on who’s on the draft board when certain picks come up, whether those teams have other assets the Lakers like, and whether those teams like any of the assets the Lakers hold. The calculus gets complex quickly as you can see.
But, the way that I see it tonight can play out a few different ways:
- The Lakers do nothing besides pick at 60.
- The Lakers try to get into last half of the first round by buying a pick or trading a player (or future considerations) to pick a player they like (Perry Jones? Quincy Miller? Marquis Teague?).
- The Lakers try to get into the top part of the draft and draft MKG or another top flight prospect that fits what they want to do.
Logically, I think the Lakers either stand pat or look to get into the last half of the draft. There’s value later in the draft and this front office has long been about value. Plus, I think finding a partner early in the draft that’s willing to make a deal is slim. Tonight is the night where potential for the future rules over present day production more than it likely should. This makes high draft picks valuable to the teams who possess them, these slots are like their reward for being bad teams. They don’t like to surrender them.
However it goes though, we’ll be here to discuss. Hopefully you’ll join us.