The angst of whether the Lakers would keep this year’s draft pick has turned to joy. The Lakers will not only keep their top-3 protected selection, but they stood pat at #2 overall. While retaining the pick at all is a major boost, landing in the 2nd slot gives the Lakers a chance at one of the two players who is viewed, at least at this point the process, to be above the rest of the field.
Yes, the table is set for the Lakers to walk away with one of either Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram. Both dynamic players in their own way, both tantalizing prospects who could be plugged into a roster and help immediately. The Lakers, then, can only smile at what is coming their way.
That said, the choice will not be theirs. The 76ers hold the #1 overall selection and, according the Bleacher Report’s Kevin Ding, are already smitten with Simmons:
The Philadelphia 76ers are leaning heavily toward taking Simmons on June 23, according to league sources, with the No. 1 overall pick they landed in the NBA draft lottery Tuesday night…
…It’s not as if the 76ers need to get to know Simmons to decide if they want him. Simmons was born and raised in Australia, where 76ers director of performance research and development David T. Martin was an iconic sports-science leader until leaving the Australian Institute of Sport for Philadelphia in 2015.
Sixers head coach Brett Brown also coached Simmons’ father, Dave, with the Melbourne Tigers. All of that history with Simmons has allayed any concerns over his attitude and inconsistent motor during his one season at LSU.
Should things play out this way, the Lakers would end up with Ingram. But, per Ding, they would be more than happy with that:
That would set the Los Angeles Lakers up at No. 2 with Ingram, who already wowed them in his May 11 interview on opening day of the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago. Ingram’s drive to be great and dedication to winning, according to sources, resonated deeply with the Lakers’ front-office contingent…
…The sweet-shooting Ingram will be offered the chance to be so exceptional in a private workout that he shifts Philadelphia’s thinking, but as of now, it appears as though the Duke freshman will be available at No. 2. That would thrill the Lakers, who aren’t sure if Ingram isn’t better than Simmons.
It is very early in the process, of course. Remember, in the wake of last year’s draft lottery there were strong rumblings that the Minnesota Timberwolves preferred Jahlil Okafor over Karl Anthony-Towns.
When those reports started to shift and it became clear Towns would go #1, it was said the Lakers would were leaning heavily towards selecting Okafor. In other words, early reports can be wrong. Shoot, even late reports can be. There’s still a lot of time left for perceptions to shift.
As it stands, mock drafts are fairly split with who will go 1-2 in the draft. Right now, it’s good to just be thankful the Lakers are in a position to get either of these players.