The Los Angeles Lakers haven’t had much luck in the NBA Draft throughout the last several years. Though, it could be said that the draft really isn’t much of a priority for a team that has ‘championship’ on its mind every single year. This is evidenced by some of the transactions they’ve made over the past seven years, most notably trading away first round draft picks for superstars.
To say that the “win now” mentality didn’t work for the Lakers would be foolish. The team won two championships by trading for Pau Gasol and mortgaging two first round draft picks in 2008 and 2010. However, other than that gargantuan front office victory, the Lakers inability to attain first round draft picks and consistent misses in the second round are part of the reason why the team struggled last year and could continue to falter this year. The team’s core is old and slow and running a fast paced Mike D’Antoni offense with old and slow guys doesn’t seem ideal.
Let’s not blame the Lakers front office on whiffing at the draft completely, though. The Lakers aren’t exactly a lottery team and the first round draft picks that they’ve traded away have generally been late picks in the first round. That said, none of their first round draft pick trades, other than the Gasol one in 2008, have been beneficial for the Lakers.
The team traded Toney Douglas, their 2009 pick, for a second round pick in 2011 which turned out to be Andrew Goudelock. They shipped their 2011 first rounder along with Sasha Vujacic for Joe Smith and a pair of second rounders. They lost their 2012 first rounder in the Ramon Sessions deal last year and their 2013 and 2015 picks in the Steve Nash trade, which is still a work in progress.
Looking at the Lakers recent draft history will make one think that the team has acquired a phobia for first round draft picks over the last six seasons. Other than drafting and immediately trading Douglas to the New York Knicks at 29th overall in 2009, the Lakers have not had a first round draft pick. In the fact the last first rounder to even suit up in purple and gold since 2007 when they selected Javaris Crittenton, who currently faces bigger problems than basketball in his life right now. They will not have a first round draft pick again this year.
The Lakers have been limited to just second round draft picks ever since 2008 – 11 of them to be exact. From those 11, five never played for the Lakers (Joe Crawford, Patrick Beverley, Chinemelu Elonu, Chukwudiebere Maduabum, and Ater Majok), two played but are no longer in the NBA (Sun Yue and Derrick Caracter), and four were on the roster this past year (Devin Ebanks, Andrew Goudelock, Darius Morris, and Robert Sacre).
While it’s nice that the team still employs and gets occasional contributions from the latter four players, they are marginal at best and have many limitations in their games. In fact, these 11 players have combined to play 254 games for the Lakers, averaging 3.0 points, 1.2 rebounds, and 0.6 assits per game.
It’s difficult to ask any team to find the next diamond in the rough in the second round like Danny Green or Manu Ginobili. The team should be grateful that they at least receive some contribution from Ebanks, Goudelock, Morris, and Sacre. That said, not having a single first round draft pick suit up for your team since 2007 is inexcusable. The Lakers completely sold off their future and it’s beginning to hurt them now as they face lack of quality in terms of depth.
When one looks at the powerful Laker teams from 2008 thru 2010, they can see that team had several key homegrown Lakers first round picks. Andrew Bynum, Sasha Vujacic, and Jordan Farmar all played instrumental roles in the Lakers back-to-back run. Even in the three-peat, Devean George and Mark Madsen were important role players that were taken in the first round and contributed to the Lakers run.
With only one second round draft pick this year and not much flexibility to sign free agents, the Lakers could be in trouble for the future in terms of depth. That said, they have tradable assets they can use to prepare for the 2014 draft, which is one of the deepest in recent memory. The Lakers, for once, have a first round draft pick for next year, but having another one in a deep draft class would most definitely not hurt.