With an officially unofficial trade of D’Angelo Russell hanging in the wind, the Lakers entered Thursday’s NBA draft with three draft picks — their own at #2, the Nets (via Boston) at #27, and the Rockets’ at #28. By the end of the night, they’d end up with four picks, swapping #28 for the Jazz’s selections at #30 and #42. (They’d also finalize the Russell deal, which, for the life of me I still don’t understand the delay in announcement. Oh well.)

With those four picks the Lakers made some smart selections, focusing on players who not only possess good character and work ethic, but who project to be able to fill specific roster needs via emerging (or already established) skills. A brief recap:

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After trading the #28 pick for the #30 and #42 picks, the Lakers selected University of Indiana C Thomas Bryant at #42. Bryant, a sophomore big man, averaged 12.6 points and 6.6 rebounds a game in a solid season individually (but one that did not have a lot of team success for the Hoosiers).

I am by no means an expert on Bryant, but the first thing that stands out to me when looking at his profile and watching some clips on him are his physical tools and how that translates to his game. Simply put, at nearly 6’11 and 248 pounds with a 7’6″ wingspan and a 9’4.5″ standing reach, this guy has an NBA physique that allowed him to overpower college athletes offensively and impact the game defensively.

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After trading the #28 pick to the Utah Jazz for the #30 and #42 picks, the Lakers selected Villanova SG Josh Hart at #30.

Hart, at 22 years old and 4 year player at ‘Nova, offers a complete skill set, good size (6’5″, 209 pounds, and a 6’8″ wingspan), high character, and a reputation as a “winner” for his contributions to the 2016 NCAA Championship Wildcats team. Last season Hart also pulled off a nice double-double by being named the player and defensive player of year for the Big East while also being named as a 3rd Team All-American.

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With the 27th pick — aka the pick the team got as part of the D’Angelo Russell trade — the Lakers selected University of Utah PF Kyle Kuzma.

I’d be lying if said I knew much about Kuzma, but he’s got good physical tools — measuring at 6’9″ with a 7′ wingspan. At a little over 220 pounds, he’s not the bulkiest player, but he’s labeled as a smooth athlete who has a rangy offensive game with some real defensive ability.

Kuzma has some “stretch” potential at PF, but will need to improve on his 32.1% from distance he posted last season in college. Where he can excel, however, is as a ball mover the half court and as a finisher in transition leveraging his quickness and athleticism to change ends quickly. Per scouting reports, he’s a good passer and a plus rebounder averaging 2.4 assists and 9 rebounds a game last season.

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While there were plenty of rumors about the Lakers exploring other options and lots of due diligence done, the Lakers did what so many had predicted they would do when they kept their pick at the NBA’s draft lottery last month: they drafted Lonzo Ball.

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It’s Draft Day!

Darius Soriano —  June 22, 2017

It’s NBA draft day and honestly, my head is spinning. While Wednesday was a bit calmer on the NBA news front, several deals have already been made and there are so many rumors about potential deals it’s impossible to keep track. To recap, this is what has happened and what people are reporting will (or in some cases, won’t) happen:

Real

Rumors

This isn’t even a comprehensive list, either. But it shows how active this period is, turning the week of the draft into a mini free agency all its own.

The question I think most of us have, though, is what will the Lakers do next? I shudder to make a prediction, honestly. We simply have too little data on this front office to even guess. Logically speaking, though, I would imagine that:

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The Lakers traded D’Angelo Russell. And while I’ve tried to make sense of it, both in long form and with our buddy Pete Zayas in our latest podcast, the fact is that there’s actually little to try to actually analyze here.

The Lakers traded a highly talented young player who, for reasons that will likely leak over the next several weeks and months, the team no longer believed in to be a long term piece for the franchise. We can debate those reasons all we want or, more precisely, debate how much those reasons should matter considering the return value netted, but I’ll save you that for now. My cliff-notes opinion is pretty straight forward: I think the Lakers sold low and if this was the best you could do in a trade right now the Lakers would have been better off not dealing him even if the ultimate goal was to actually deal him.

What’s done is done, though. Oh, I’ll surely wring my hands over how the team managed this situation and Russell as a player — not to mention his own faults which impacted the approach they took — but to worry about that now is somewhat secondary.

The more pressing question is what do the Lakers actually do now?

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So, the Lakers traded D’Angelo Russell for Brook Lopez and a late 1st round pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft. Typing that still feels weird. Probably because I don’t really like this deal, even if I understand it is likely a precursor to future moves (or, at least, it needs to be).

In order to try to figure out what the Lakers just did, Pete and I got to podcasting to discuss this thing. Be warned, we’re not happy. Click through to listen to our latest Laker Film Room pod:

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