In our final podcast before the NBA Draft, Pete and I take one last look at some of the prospects, answer a bunch of listener questions, touch on the most recent LeBron/Lakers rumor, and have a spirited discussion about Jerry West’s leaving the Warriors for…the Los Angeles Clippers? Yep, that actually happened.

Click through to listen to the entire episode.

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Whether it’s smokescreen season or not (and it is), there is still information to be gleaned through the actions of the Lakers and all the other teams who are gearing up for the NBA draft. We are now in the home stretch and this is the last chance to get prospects in for workouts and interviews before selections are made.

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“With the #2 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers select…Josh Jackson, University of Kansas.”

There is a real possibility that exact sentence is uttered by Adam Silver at next Thursday’s NBA Draft. Jackson, the do-it-all F out of Kansas, reportedly has his supporters in the organization, with Chad Ford noting that the organization might actually be “split” between drafting the presumptive #2 Lonzo Ball or selecting Jackson:

I also think it reflects a genuine split within the organization about whom the best long-term candidate is. Ball was a clear favorite of the prior administration run by Mitch Kupchak and still has his fans within the organization. But the Lakers also took note on how Fox outplayed Ball in their head-to-head matchup in March. And Jackson has always been another favorite in the organization.

While the feeling is that Ball is a good fit with the Lakers offensively, Fox and Jackson are gritty defenders and vocal leaders on the court, something the Lakers feel the team is lacking. Jackson in particular seems to have some strong supporters in the organization who think defense should be the priority.

I still think they lean toward Ball, but I’d put the odds somewhere like this: Ball 40 percent, Jackson 35 percent, Fox 25 percent.

I’ve covered Ball’s game and fit already, so I won’t get into that too much now. My simple summary, though: Ball’s offensive game and, specifically, his approach to playing the game (fast, fun, making the right play consistently) offer an almost perfect alignment with how Luke Walton wants his team to play. Combine that with Ball’s considerable ceiling and I think he’s the prime candidate for the #2 pick (assuming Markelle Fultz is drafted #1).

Saying all that about Ball, however, shouldn’t diminish the qualities Jackson brings to the table. Nor should they overshadow that Jackson, with his potential as a two-way difference maker, is also a very good fit for the Lakers in both the short and long term.

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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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From even before the time the Lakers secured the #2 pick in the upcoming NBA draft, the Lonzo to the Lakers train was steamrolling down the tracks. Whether it was Lonzo’s father, Lavar, trying to “speak it into existence” or Lonzo himself stating outright his desire to play for the Lakers (and be mentored by Magic Johnson) while staying close to home in Los Angeles, the UCLA star becoming a Lakers’ one seemed like destiny.

Now that the Lakers actually have the pick, this all seems even more preordained. Even reports about Lonzo not being a lock are at least partially prefaced with him still being the favorite to land with the Lakers. Yes, other prospects are worth selecting #2 and the Lakers will do their due diligence. They reportedly really like Josh Jackson and De’Aaron Fox and will work both out in the coming weeks. But Lonzo is the name we keep coming back to; he is the default name.

There is good reason for this. Lost in some of the bluster about his father or other “distractions” we should always remebmer that Lonzo Ball is an excellent basketball player and, in my opinion, one of the more intriguing prospects to come into the league in some time. Note, I’m not saying he is the best one — after all, he’s not even the top player in this class. But his profile is a unique blend of basketball IQ, size, skill, and a strict adherence to playing to his strengths that doesn’t often come in any prospect, much less one who can play point guard and/or initiate your offense.

When you add it all up, it combines to make Ball the prospect who seems to almost perfectly align with how the Lakers want to play under Luke Walton and one who should not be defined by any of the noise that surrounds him or his game.

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In part III (and the last) of our Lakers’ team building series, we will look at the option I like to call the middle road. If the first option is the slow rebuild and the second option is to try to contend right away, the next logical step is to find something which satisfies both while not going too far in either direction.

The Lakers are uniquely positioned to take this path, too. Now that they have secured the #2 overall pick in the upcoming draft — to go along with the #28 pick they got from Houston — while still possessing 6 players they’ve drafted over the past 3 years in contributing roles, the team has a blend of assets and enough cap space to be players in either the FA or trade market. What we’ll do below, then, is explore what this option might look like and how the front office may go about executing such a plan.

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Yes, this is a Lakers site but I am a basketball fan first and foremost. And today, the Finals begin and the tug-of-war for the championship will commence. To be clear, I have no horse in this race. Those who know me personally know that my wife has ties to the Warriors and, thus, is a fervent fan of theirs. So, if the Dubs win, my life is easier (happy wife, happy life, as the saying goes). But, beyond that, I really don’t care who wins. I just want a good, competitive series befitting of these two excellent teams.

I especially want this now, after these playoffs. Collectively, this postseason has been basura. The Warriors and Cavs have played, probably, a combined one or two compelling games in 25 total contests to this point. And while there have been some other good games (and a few excellent ones), I can’t think of one memorable series; one matchup that I will actually remember a year from now. I hope the Finals changes that. As basketball fans, I think we’ve earned it. After all, we were told this series was coming for the past 9 months. Now it’s here. Time to live up to the hype.

As for this series, I am on the fence as to who I think will actually win. I’m not big on predictions, though I do enjoy being right (as we all do).

I understand what the conventional wisdom is. The Warriors should win and do so handily. The most common prediction I’ve seen is that the Warriors will win in 5 games. This makes sense. Last year they were up 3-1 in the series before a Draymond suspension set the wheels in motion for the Cavs comeback. Add Kevin Durant to the mix and this version of the Warriors is even better. They’re also almost fully healthy (Iguodala is dealing with some knee issues that cost him time in the WCF) and are playing exquisite basketball. They are a juggernaut and it’s difficult to see any team beating them 4 times in 7 games.

That said, I cannot shake the sense that these Cavs are ready to test them and turn this into a competitive series. LeBron James is an all-time great. He’s the rare generational talent where just having him ups your odds at not just competing, but winning any game against any opponent. Add to him Kyrie (who is evolving into one of the better “big game/moment” players in the league) and Kevin Love (who is playing the best he has as a Cav) and the talent gap between this team and the Warriors isn’t so large.

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In this episode of the Laker Film Room Podcast, Pete and I talk with Cranjis McBasketball (aka Tim, aka @T1m_NBA) to take a look at the top of the NBA draft using analytics from their college seasons. Tim breaks down why he has Lonzo Ball as the obvious pick at #2 (assuming Fultz goes #1), why he’s skeptical about De’Aaron Fox, and we also get into why we have Josh Jackson as the 3rd best prospect even though there are concerns about his offensive game.

We also discuss some options at #28 and how, in general, some of the numbers don’t always align with what the eye test says. It’s a good conversation with some particularly good insights about the top guys from this past college season. Click through to give it a listen.

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