7. Marcus Smart
Smart is a starting NBA point guard right now. At 6’4″ 225 lbs, the sophmore out of Oklahoma State would fit nicely next to Bryant as an elite defender. Seeing that the Lakers have been repeatedly victimized by elite point guards, Smart would be a great pickup for his defense alone. He is an elite rebounder and passer and dominates games without scoring. He posts up smaller guards and has a maturity that would make him an instant upgrade for the Lakers. The biggest question with Smart is his shooting. With improvement in that area he is an all star caliber player. At worst he’s a bigger,better Eric Snow.
Gary Harris is the sleeper in this draft. His future in the NBA is as a big, scoring point guard. At 6’4″ he is already adept at running the pick and roll. He is an explosive scorer and superb defender. Harris’ excellence gets lost at times within Michigan St.’s grind it out persona. In the more open NBA, Harris is a bonafide star.
9. Willie Cauley-Stein
Rim protection is the Lakers’ most glaring need. Cauley-Stein is a 7 footer with incredible athleticism and balance. He is the premier shotblocker in the college ranks and shows a great nose for rebounding as well. Offensively he is limited, but he compares favorably to Tyson Chandler as someone who is effective on lobs, on hard rolls to the rim, and on put backs off the glass. He will be a better pro than collegian. His energy, help defense, and court awareness make him a valuable contributor right away. He might not be a franchise type player but he’s a major building block.
Vonleh is toiling away in near obscurity with Indiana this year. A McDonald’s All American, Vonleh came in with a game similar to Chris Bosh. At 6’10” 240, Vonleh has an NBA body now. The Hoosiers have relegated him to the post where he has struggled at times. Much like Jermaine O’Neal had to develop over a few years to reach his potential, so too does Vonleh. A Western Conference team that just missed the playoffs with 40 something wins might be a perfect fit for him. In the end, He will surprise, at the pro level, with his level of perimeter skill and coordination.