In the brave new world of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, building through the draft becomes increasingly necessary. There’s a bit of a Catch-22 for teams that have successful seasons with any regularity. Winning compromises draft position while free agency spending becomes increasingly funneled into a punitive bottleneck. The Lakers have few options available for plugging holes in the dyke until the 2013-14 season when a lot of money theoretically comes off the books. For now, there’s the veteran minimum, the mini mid-level exception and one paltry pick – #48.
For teams like the Lakers, the conventional wisdom is usually to pick the best player available, regardless of position. It’s a simple matter of logic when you have one pick and a poor slot. It’s a little different if you’re the Cavs with four bites at the apple including number one, or Portland, also with four. So what are the Lakers needs? Everything. Given age, injuries and Dwight Howard’s free agency there is no position where we have any real depth – possible exception being point guard though you wouldn’t have known during the recent playoffs. Then again, there may not be a lot of positional choices by the time Adam Silver hits his mark and announces #48 – the bottom half of this year’s draft tends to favor big and slow.
Ben Rosales from Silver Screen and Roll has put together a thorough and thoughtfull Lakers draft primer – give it a read.
The Lake Show Life has put together a good round table of potential picks.
Here’s a great overview on Western Conference draft trends from Matt Norlander at CBS Sports.
Dave McMenamin from ESPN GO offers ten decisions that shaped the Lakers fate this past season.
Ronnie Lester was with the Lakers organization for 27 years as a player and executive before being let go in 2011. Eric Pincus from the L.A. Times has an update.
The San Antonio Spurs are legendary when it comes to managing the draft, especially with overseas players that are usually stashed and ripened. Tony Parker was drafted at #28 and Manu Ginobili at #57. J.R. Gomez from Pounding the Rock has the story on the team’s most recent long term development prospect – Tiago Splitter’s coming into his own in the NBA after being drafted #28 six years back.
Here’s a bunch of good Lakers links and rumors from Arielle Moyal at Lakers Nation.
Also from Lakers Nation via Elizabeth Benson, Phil Jackson’s view on fixing the Lakers problems.
Finally, while we rarely link financial media sites here (and it’s not really relevant to the draft), here’s an article from CBS MoneyWatch, How to Lead Like Phil Jackson.
Mitch Kupchak has done a lot of good things over the years. There’s few general managers better at high-level stealth trades and acquisitions, the melding of veteran talent and the mega market high-wire balancing act. If there’s room for improvement and there always is, the draft is a place to look. It’s been eight long years since the Lakers were in the top ten – that of course being the Andrew Bynum pick. Ronnie Lester and his staff were responsible for scouting the high school center and Jim Buss liked what he saw during a Lakers workout. It has to be noted of course that Buss was also the one who famously offered that “if you grabbed ten fans out of a bar and asked them to rate prospects, their opinions would pretty much be identical to pro scouts.”
The tag has stuck with Jim Buss ever since. To be fair, the remark was made long ago. Jim didn’t exactly douse the flames in 2011 however when he drastically reduced and consolidated the team’s scouting arm. Today, the nucleus of that division is Jim, his younger brothers Joey and Jesse, longtime consultant Bill Bertka and Mitch Kupchak himself. It would be inaccurate to say that the organization no longer employs additional scouts. It is not inaccurate however, to admit that the operation has been streamlined.
So what’s the big deal, it’s only a #48 pick, right? Sure, but there’s always choices. One team might find a Manu Ginobili hidden in plain sight at the end of the line. Or, you could pick a Chukwudiebere Maduabum. We’re about a month away from seeing how the Lakers roll the dice this time around.