Podcast: Talking Draft and the Lakers Young Players with Nate Duncan

Darius Soriano —  June 7, 2017

In this episode of the Laker Film Room Podcast, Pete and I are joined by Nate Duncan of the Dunc’d On Podcast and the Twitter NBA Show to talk about the upcoming NBA Draft and the Lakers young players.

We get into Lonzo Ball and De’Aaron Fox as potential fits at guard and then go heavy on Brandon Ingram and D’Angelo Russell as present and future players in this league. Nate also gives us his thoughts on the general direction the Lakers are going while offering what approach he would take if he were running the team.

Thanks to Nate for taking the time and for providing so much food for thought. Click through to listen to the entire show.


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to Podcast: Talking Draft and the Lakers Young Players with Nate Duncan

  1. Darius, have you heard Jalen Rose saying LeBron might go to Lakers in 2018. LeBron, P 13 sound like possibilities to go with the kids. Death lineup of LeBron, PG, Ingram, DAR, and Ball. With Zublocka, Nance and other tradeable parts. That sounds very competitive to me but I believe DAR has all-star potential at the 2. What are your thoughts?


    • Rick in Seattle June 8, 2017 at 3:42 pm

      There is a reasonable expectation that the Clippers get Carmello this summer in trade. Depending on the status of their free agents Paul & Griffin, what would then preclude LeBron from thinking about joining up with Carmello on the Clippers (who are a much more veteran team than the Lakers are)? LeBron is not that young. He may want another ring sooner rather than later.


  2. I don’t think I agree with a single thing this guy said. My counterpoints:

    On Ingram:
    Coach K thought he is special; Luke kept saying Brandon does amazing things in practice, it’s a matter of time before he does in games. Magic, presumably in agreement with the Lakers coaching and scouting staff, labeled him “untouchable”. We knew he starts slow and improves, especially as an 18yo in a men’s league. He’s as young as the freshmen in this year’s draft. I would take him 3rd in this draft and 2nd in the last. About as good as Hernaneffinggomez? Seriously?

    On Russell:
    He’s strong, crafty, excellent passer with a beautiful stroke that will keep getting better. He’s not super fast, but faster than Chris Mullin. He works hard and wants to improve. He can get to 20/5/5 and get served alcohol all in the same year, 2017-18. Compared him to Mudiay? Really?

    On Randle:
    He’s working hard on his shot, his form has improved over last season already, with a chance to be a viable threat as early as the coming season. He was a beast at 20-21 with some baby fat, racking up double and triple doubles, next year he will be hard to stop filling lanes next to LB. This Nate dude talks about each of our young players like their ceiling is below their actual current floor. I am encouraged that people like Pop and Magic don’t see JR that way.

    And what about Zubac? He legitimately could turn out the best of them all. I’ll bet my left nut that in two years, when he’s the same age as Hernaneffinggomez today, Zu will be posting better than 4.9 and 3.0. Oh, wait a minute, he already has, 7.5 and 4.2, despite the super slow start.


    • If you are going to use numbers, try using some other than PPG/RPG. Stat guys like Hernangomez because he put up an 18.9 PER and had a .123 WS/48. Questions are how much he will improve, if at all, since he is 22, not 19 or 20, and whether he can sustain it playing more than 18 MPG.

      As to Ingram, Russell, and Randle, how good they, and whomever the FO takes at 2 this year, are actually going to be is of course the central question facing the organization right now. Placing a lot of stock in Walton’s (or Magic’s) public statements is not a great idea; it is Walton’s job to build these guys up while holding them accountable, and he seems to be pretty good at both. So of course he is going to say that the young guys have a lot of skills. Basically, there is reason for hope and also specific reasons to believe that none of them–including Ball and Jackson, and I think one of those two guys will become a Laker two weeks from today–will be cornerstone guys.


      • I was not referring to Walton’s nice guy positivity or FO spin about our lotteries, but about some of the earlier interviews with Magic and Worthy, where the tone and comments were clearly balanced and insightful. All three were selected for the 2016 USA Select team, comprised of 25 players from the last three drafts. Reportedly the Cousins trade proposal died because we withheld Brandon. There is ample evidence that our young players are more promising than Duncan was making them out to be.

        Current stats, advanced or not don’t tell us much about how to compare the two given sample size. But Zu is two years younger and was showing us by the end of the year that he can already start in the NBA without getting embarrassed. Good chance he is our starting center before the 2019-20 season, when he’ll be Hernangomez’s current age, and will then have numbers overwhelmingly better than 4.9/3.0. That was my point – Zubac should be in the conversation if Hernangomez is.

        I am a big fan of both Ball and Jackson, and agree with you about the cornerstone statement.


  3. This was another fun podcast with Darius and Pete taking turns extracting information from Nate and pushing their agendas. I especially liked Pete’s question at the end of Nate’s assessment of DAR. Nate had said that although DAR checks most of the boxes for an elite point guard, he could never be elite since he does not drive to the rim enough. Never mind that as point guards get older (with a few notable exceptions) they stop driving to the rim if there is going to be contact. Pete seemingly innocently asks how many point guards who filled all of Nate’s criteria had been drafted in the past 5 years. Nate took some time to decide that the answer was one. This podcast showed how hard it is to forecast how well a player will do even with all the newer data available.


  4. Rick in Seattle June 8, 2017 at 9:20 am

    If the rumors about LeBron are remotely possible, all the more important that the Lakers get to work on finding new addresses for Deng & Mozgov. As I’ve suggested before, if you wait until the last minute (2018) to try to trade one or both, you are in a more strategically limited position, and subject to being low-balled by any team you deal with.

    We are now entering the summer of 2017. Make Deng & Mozgov your highest priority, or else there will be no cap room for unanticipated player movement like LeBron!

    Regarding the draft: Yesterday was the Ball workout. Today (Thursday) the Lakers FO flies up to Sacramento to watch a workout with Josh Jackson. Next week (Tuesday, I believe) Fox will be working out for the Lakers in LA. Therefore, by this time next week, we should have a much clearer picture of the direction that the Lakers FO is leaning for their #2 pick.


    • Rick in Seattle June 9, 2017 at 9:28 am

      In the interest of thoroughness, I would expect to see the Lakers also work out Dennis Smith and Jayson Tatum. There appears to be a lot of similar value in draft prospects 2 thru 6. And a slightly lesser group in the 7 thru 12 range. Is is possible that the Lakers consider trading down? Seems like it’s still possible! Magic (like Kupchak) playing his cards close to the vest and keeping their options open. Nothing wrong with that!


      • Smith is working out and meeting the Lakers tomorrow (Saturday). He would be interesting in that he is probably the most NBA ready of the top PG prospects and has the most balanced skill set. I think Fox has a higher ceiling but Smith a higher floor. Likely also a trade down candidate.


        • Rick in Seattle June 10, 2017 at 5:58 pm

          It seems fairly clear that Magic & Pelinka are taking their time to make a serious and well studied decision regarding who/if they choose at #2. Kupchak & Buss are no longer with the club due to mistakes like the Deng & Mozgov contracts–
          decisions that (hopefully) will not be repeated any time soon.

          If we look just at the makeup of the current roster, the team appears to need another good wing (particularly defensive). In my opinion, PG is a lesser need.
          that can be satisfied thru other means.

          Ironically, this morning I was able to compare the stats of Jackson and Tatum. They are amazingly similar in so many ways. Either player, In my opinion, would be a good choice–particularly if they do not re-sign Nick Young.

          It’s very difficult to know how the Lakers front office will grade out the top 5 or 6 players in the draft. Every team employs different values and needs.

          Rumors are that Sacramento (and perhaps Philly) are interested in moving up.
          Therefore, if the Lakers were to view the 4 or 5 players below Fultz as fairly equal, then they may see an opportunity to trade down a spot or two.

          A rumor circulated a week and a half ago that Sacramento was willing to trade the #5 & #10 picks, plus an additional player, for the #2 pick. Recently, it sounds like Sacramento may have made that same offer to Boston for the #1 pick. Several sources are writing that Sacramento is very interested in Fox, who will likely be gone at #5.

          This seems to be a fairly strong draft, with a lot to offer. With the Lakers in the middle of a rebuild, and not likely to contend for the next year or two, acquiring additional talent would likely be a positive move.

          Philly is rumored to be in a similar situation to Sacramento, They are reportedly looking at Ball and Fox as rumored, Philly may be willing to dangle their #3 pick plus additional considerations to move up one position. And, it may well be worth the Lakers consideration.

          But in the end, if one considers current team needs, adding a solid wing player just makes sense. And, Jackson or Tatum more than fit that need.

          With Smith coming in this weekend, perhaps he has the chance to show the Lakers another option. Hopefully the Lakers will have an opportunity to also take a good look at Tatum and perhaps even Fultz before the draft. .


  5. The one thing I learned last year was that some things sound good until put in practice. If I described a tall PG who rebounds great and has extrodinairy vision you could easily be confused if I were talking about Russell or Ball. After watching Russell play against elite NBA PG’s it became pretty clear he just isn’t fast enough to defend those quick guys. I think Russel’s defense is way underrated. But then he has this amazing sweet stroke and great ability to put someone on his hip to create space and get a shot off. Turns out he would make a pretty good SG. Ball looks like an absolute bust to me as a PG as he looks even slower than Russell. Worse there is nohing sweet about Lonzo’s stroke that suggests he has a fall back position. I think I’ll do a long post going into team needs at some point but, clearly one of thier needs is a PG who can realistically defend opposing PG’s.


  6. Those Lebron “rumors” are just ridiculous, asinine click bait. So enough already. About Ball that “it went well” statement after the workout sounds like a resounding MEH to me. I don’t think they gonna draft him.


  7. A Horse With No Name June 8, 2017 at 5:19 pm


    Magic: “I don’t want to draft this guy.”
    Luke: Inscrutable.
    Rob: “I’m listening.”
    Jesse and Joey: “We’re drafting Jackson! Yippee!”


  8. A Horse With No Name June 8, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    OMG! Trudell posts a pic of Magic, Pelinka, Luke and the young Buss brothers talking to Josh Jackson at his workout today in Sacramento. Magic looks very, very unhappy. Pelinka appears neutral. Luke has his back turned–so who knows. Buss bros are in the backround smiling and laughing, talking to someone, A bunch of funny responses from twitter speculating on the Magic man’s unhappiness. Tweet taken down by Trudell. Hmm.


  9. Another great podcast! I still think the minimalist approach is best for 2017. Draft Ball so he can distribute to teammates. Ball, Russell, Ingram, Nance and Zubac on opening night. Let’s not over think things for the first 30 days.

    Trade Moz and Deng contracts even if that means linking to a player like Black, Clarkson, Randle or other players? to create space for 2018 free agency. The bench warmers need to move on so we have funds to pay players that contribute going forward
    in free agency.

    It’s been reported that Paul George and other really good players are going to be available, a teammate like that is what the Lakers need to be about. Other free agents are all over the map, some like KD and James appear to be tabloid fodder.

    My issue with Russell is not whether or not he can play well enough for the first string, but rather his durability?? How many games has he missed due to his knees?? Far to many for a young man his age.

    My issue with Randle is whether or not he is up for the game every night? When he’s “on”, he can rebound and lead the fast break, shooting is suspect? For a guy almost seven feet tall, he has not demonstrated he can block shots. He’s very inconsistent, some nights he is simply watching the game around him rather than participating, shooting, rim protection aren’t there, that’s why a healthy Nance starts in front of him.

    This is going to be a fun year!! I hope the team stays healthy and wins 15 more games than last year!!


  10. Are the Lakers going to work our Fultz? I think the 76ers like Ball as well (low usage PG who can stretch the floor and wouldn’t bristle with Simmons handling the ball a lot). Bottom line there is no 100% guarantee that Ball is available at #2.


    • 76ers pick 3rd bro, and I doubt the Celts will pass on Fultz.


    • It doesn’t really matter WHO the 76ers like since they pick AFTER the Lakers. Boston is taking Fultz. Whoever is picking #1 is picking Fultz so if the Celtics trade the pick for Jimmy Butler for example, Chicago takes Fultz. Fultz NOT going #1 is just like the height of the rumblings last year about Simmons being available at #2. Its purely the hype of the media and FO smokescreens that are rising as the draft approaches. This is the time of year of WACKY overthought journalism by bored NBA writers.


  11. Like hearing that Ball at #2 is the best choice with Lakers current roster. Expecting in season trades around All-Star break once FO has a better idea how core is shaping up.


  12. A Horse With No Name June 9, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    Kevin Ding saying lakers like Fultz and Jackson (if true, reconfirms my faith in their scouting dept.).


  13. A Horse With No Name June 10, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    Darius: Cruel pics del pollo en la parilla! No fair bro.


  14. I keep hearing that Brooklyn might be a trading partner for Moz or Deng? Clearing those contracts is really important considering 2018 free agents. Magic is on record as saying he will be signing players during that period.


    • Rick in Seattle June 11, 2017 at 11:17 am

      Brooklyn has a ways to go to recover & rebuild from the poor trades made by its previous front office regime. And, unless an unexpectedly good player like Porzingis or Antecokopono accidentally falls into their laps, they are not likely to reach the weak Eastern Conference playoffs (let alone contend) for quite some time.

      However, in the meantime, they have cap space and are in a good position to take on bad contracts that bring back extra resources like draft picks.

      That’s where the Lakers may come into play. Lakers obviously have two players (Deng & Mozgov) with three years remaining on their bloated contracts! However, other teams have similar issues. Detroit, for example, has a nearly identical situation with Drummond & Jackson. Other teams have players they would also like to dispose of.

      Brooklyn has the “luxury” of picking the most appealing of these bad NBA contracts. In addition to cap space, Brooklyn also has the $22.6 mil expiring contract of Brook Lopez to trade by next February’s trade deadline. It’s unlikely he is re-signed or extended.

      Question is, what can Brooklyn get in return for Lopez? My original suggestion was Mozgov, Brewer and the Lakers #28 pick. The numbers work. Its also interesting that Mozgov is Russian and probably has some familiarity with the Russian owner of the Nets. The downside is that Mozgov is approaching 31, while a player like Drummond is only 23. Brooklyn will certainly look for the most favorable deal.

      Therefore, assuming Brooklyn wants to get something beyond just cap space for Lopez, for the Lakers to win out, it may take more than a late 1st round pick. It may require either a player (like Clarkson) or a higher pick (Lakers 2019 1st round) or a bigger trade involving multiple players (Lopez & Hollis-Jefferson for Clarkson, Randle and a pick). .

      If he Lakers hold on to both Deng & Mozgov until this time next year, both players will have only two years remaining on their contracts. Although holding on to them until close to 2018 free agency has its risks, it may also be a consideration.

      Alan, in the meantime, it’s possible that some combination of Deng or Mozgov could be attached to a major player trade like Russell, Randle, or the #2 pick? (a suggestion that I think you made in an earlier thread), in order to advance cap space for 2018, which of course, appears to be the team’s current goal.

      There are so many possibilities in play, it just hard to see a firm direction at this point. But it seems a positive that Magic & Pelinka are keeping their options open. Between now and free agency next summer, moving the Deng/Mozgov contracts have to be a primary consideration. Even though Clarkson is now making $12+ mil, he is young and still developing. Let’s prioritize removing Deng & Mozgov first, I think its possible! .


      • Rick in Seattle June 12, 2017 at 10:43 am

        Smith reportedly impressed the Lakers with his Sunday workout. Now let’s see how the Fox workout goes tomorrow. And later (hopefully) a workout will be scheduled with Tatum. Once the FO see’s each of the top prospects in person, it may change their draft order, and open up possibilities for trade or draft movement. If they could somehow end up with two quality players say Ball & Jackson or Jackson & Smith, or even Smith & Tatum, then that would certainly be considered a very successful draft!


      • Thanks, great analysis. Randle, Moz, maybe #28 for Lopez would be a win-win for both teams. Brooklyn gets players that can contribute now and going forward, Lakers clear cap space for future free agency.


  15. Rick, I think we’re mostly on the same page. An alternative I’d prefer would be to consider Deng to be an asset for next year as a two way player at the 4. That would make the most sense if Randle were traded with Mozgov for Lopez. The Nets would get rid of an even higher contract than Mozgov packaged with a young building block player. I think they’d do it.

    The Lakers would then have Deng, Lopez, and Ingram as starters for next year, with Nance, Zubek, and Brewer off the bench–several “energy” players available for depth. IMO, that alignment would be more realistic to improve the Laker standings next year than to have Zubek supported by Black at center—and Randle/Nance at the 4,

    The Lopez slot is one year only–making 22 million available for free agents (PG) the year after. Hopefully, Deng has a decent year next year. Then, with only two years left on his contract, Deng will be much more tradable (or a better stretch) the year after.


    • Rick in Seattle June 12, 2017 at 2:46 pm

      Your suggestion makes a lot of sense. Randle is going to have to be paid or extended pretty soon. It avoids that decision. And, you may or may not agree, but I think Lopez is a much better player than what he has been showing in Brooklyn. Getting Lopez for one year gives the Lakers a chance to assess his value to the team, and also give them his bird rights in case they decide to keep him. Some may feel that giving up Randle is too much for a potential rental, but if it opens cap space for one or more free agents, how can that be a total negative? And it just might raise Deng’s value in the eyes of other teams. Vary valid suggestion.

      There appears to be a growing consensus that Jackson is the choice. But I agree with those that indicate that the team needs another point guard as well. And if they draft a rookie, they may also need a veteran backup. Just don’t think Ennis & Nwaba are ready to be full time backups. Besides Jackson, Dennis Smith might be a good addition, but would probably require a trade.


    • Sounds great to me.


      • I think the Lakers are stuck with Mozgov/Deng for another year. Then they’ll see what they can do by stretching one and trading the other.

        I do think the Lakers will deal with Randle’s extension by trading him to Sacramento for the 5th and 10th picks.


  16. A Horse With No Name June 12, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    Newsflash: The same guy ( a Phoenix sports radio host) who broke the ill-fated Nash trade to the lakers is saying that Josh Jackson has a promise from the lakers (likely the lakers, because he hasn’t worked out for either the Celtics or Sixers) and won’t work out for the Suns, who pick fourth. Darius is commenting on this on twitter. Darius asks rhetorically why would a team make a promise if they are picking second (and in this case, reputedly the No. 1 pick is going to be Fultz to the Celtics? I posit the following: if the rumor is true and the lakers did make said promise to Jackson, then their reasoning for it might be along the lines of we don’t want any other team to cobble together a deal with the Celtics for the number one pick and get Jackson, or simply, we don’t the Celtics to work him out and draft him instead of Fultz. The latter seems unlikely, but the Celtics are on the record as being open to all possibilities with respect to their pick. Jackson might actually make more sense to the Celtics than Fultz, as they have quite a few guards but not likely. Fultz is probably the safest, highest ceiling player in the draft–and that’s why the Celtics take him. If they did not however, the lakers would of course jump on Fultz. The second pick, is a very interesting and valuable spot in this draft–duh,

    As an aside, Dennis Smith is a straight beast. He may be the second best lead guard prospect after Fultz. There is a scenario where trading the second pick for the Kings no. 5 and 10, makes sense if you get Smith and someone like Issac. . . .


    • I’ve read good things regarding Josh Jackson. Only negative was he is still developing an outside shot. If he is going to show up and give 100%, I’d like to see it happen?


  17. A crappy team with cap space is like a pig wearing lipstick: not appealing and not fooling anybody.
    Teams like that overpay for mediocre to lousy talent. I don’t need to mention two recent examples of lousy deals the Lakers entered into under just those conditions …
    Therefore, unless the Lakers improve rather dramatically with their more or less existing roster plus upcoming draft picks, I’m not seeing the value of reducing their already rather meager talent to jettison Moz and Deng to gain cap space to overpay for “other” mediocre to lousy talent.


  18. Regarding Josh Jackson: Here’s an excerpt from a recent article by Christopher Kline at a 76ers fan site:

    “A versatile defender with a strong frame and excellent size at 6-8, Jackson has the positional malleability to cover one through four defensively — a massive asset for a Sixers team that boasts one of the league’s best defensive cores. He lacks the consistent jumper needed to help rectify the Sixers’ spacing issues, but his playmaking wits and overall athletic tools are enough to see past the early concerns.

    His ceiling could, in theory, be the highest in this year’s class.

    Jackson would likely find the majority of his offensive production in transition or while operating as a slasher in the halfcourt setup, where his bounciness around the rim and explosiveness when gunning down the lane makes him extremely difficult to contain. His passing touch is also on full display when he’s driving towards the hoop, as he’s fully capable of dropping a quick wraparound to the cutting big or kicking it out to an open shooter on the outside.”


    • Mattal,

      Very interesting. That’s good info. Thanks for that.


    • As to Josh Jackson, three key things to keep in mind:

      1. His FT% was only .566. That is often an indicator of pro shooting ability.
      2. He does not have especially big hands. This is one thing about Kawhi Leonard that the Spurs picked up on–the guy has massive mitts, almost Shaq-sized. Hand size is a big deal in basketball–Jordan and Cousy are two guys with huge claws for their size, for example.
      3. He is already 20.

      Plusses about Jackson: he has very good STL and BLK numbers, and AST numbers.


      • A Horse With No Name June 13, 2017 at 10:01 am

        Big hands are a plus, especially for rim protecting bigs. Less an issue for perimeter players. Kobe had difficulty palming the ball. It made his aerial attacks less exciting than Jordan’s, but yeah, it didn’t hurt him much. I find the parallels between Kobe and JJ more than interesting. Both fiery, passionate guys with non-stop two-way motors, super athletic wings who are three level scorers but not great shooters, yet have a penchant for difficult shot-making. Both vocal, charismatic, very smart. I think the age issue is a non issue; he’s like six months older than the younger top prospects–whoopdedoo.


        • Darius addressed the age issue in his new post. As to hand size, I think you’re wrong, but leaving that aside, I brought that up because a few people have compared Jackson to Leonard.


      • yes, RR, to be sure Josh Jackson is not without flags. We haven’t even addressed his off court issue — which hopefully is a one off event.

        Regarding free throws, Jackson did get to the line about 80 times more than Ball did in nearly 180 less minutes so there’s that.

        I suspect that Magic is open minded about Josh’s outside shot as he himself developed into an outside threat while in the league.


        • Yeah, having two backcourt players with low FTRs could be a big problem. I am OK with either Jackson or Ball. I think Jackson has a higher floor, but Ball has special passing skills. We will see.


  19. This is a well thought out and articulate bunch of Laker fans that I enjoy reading everyday.

    The playoffs are over, the draft picks are in order and the teams are all looking at next year.

    A month ago, we had no idea if the Lakers would have a pick better than # 28, now they will pick at # 2, assuring a good young player for next year. Personally, I’d pick Josh Jackson because I feel he will work better than Lonzo for to many reasons to note here.

    Then what? Will Paul George join the team as a free agent the following year without trading assets? Will Russell and a player go to the Phil Jackson Knicks for Carmelo Anthony, giving George a one two punch? What players will the team sign that we haven’t discussed? Lebron is another rumor?

    The euphoria that we all felt when Jim Buss’ was replaced by Magic is still upon us, now the fun begins. I look forward to your comments as we travel into a successful season, no tanking!! As Al Davis would say, “Just win baby.” ??


  20. The coach would not let us play if we shot less than 70% from the free throw line in high school. How can someone shoot 56% and get away with it? I have also heard there is a connection regarding free throws and jump shots.