There have been stories about free agency; about players that want to be future Laker players. Kevin Love is the most notable name and his interest in the Laker team is knowledge that is commonplace with passionate fans. Other names that Laker fans have shown desire for are Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, bringing a franchise player with an uptempo style of team.
Considering these names, should this affect Laker draft decisions?
The answer is no.
Let’s take the 8 names of the NBA draft; Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, Dante Exum, Aaron Gordon, Marcus Smart, and Noah Vonleh. Laker fans aware of the draft would love to have any of these players on the team. They bring different dimensions of team needs, all with varying levels of championship talent and character. What’s the worst case scenario?
Say, for example, that the Lakers end up with a high draft pick, but Julius Randle is projected as the best player available. Let’s assume that Kevin Love becomes a Laker through free agency. Usually, when a free agent signing occurs, it develops into a sign-and-trade scenario in exchange for talent, expiring contracts, and draft picks. Julius Randle would be behind Kevin Love and the Lakers would be stacked at the power forward position.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing.
The rest of the roster may have issues to address on either side of the floor, but Mike D’Antoni would place Kevin Love at center on defense, and Julius Randle at center on offense. The Laker team would be stacked with rebounding ability and strength. Neither would be elite shotblockers, but have quick enough feet to project the paint and force defensive stops. Offensively, Kevin Love’s 3-point range would draw out opposing centers while Julius Randle would execute pick-and-roll play well with his quickness, ability to attack off-the-dribble, and soft touch in the painted area. It’s a win-win scenario for the Laker team.
The ability to create defensive stops had obtain offensive balance create championship winning plays.
If, for whatever reason, a player isn’t a good fit for the team, then he’ll be put in a position to be successful for another team. This happened with Eddie Jones when Kobe Bryant behind him. This happened with Elden Campbell with Shaquille O’Neal ahead of him. In both cases, all of the players had more individual success after the trades were completed. The same can happen when there is an overflow of talent at one given position.
Fortunately for the Laker team, regardless of where they draft in the lottery, that player will fill a team needs. There are holes on both ends of the floor at every position. While there are exciting wing players for the team, especially Nick Young, Xavier Henry, Jodie Meeks, and Wesley Johnson, a franchise player can hopefully be retained through the draft. If that means drafting Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Rodney Hood, or Dante Exum at wing positions, then so be it. They have a talent and opportunity to carry a franchise on their backs. The current wing players would make for excellent contributors behind a franchise player.
Norm Nixon was traded to the Clippers to make room for Byron Scott. Eddie Jones and Elden Campbell were traded for Glen Rice and J.R. Reid. In both cases, the Lakers found ways to balance out the talent of the team and create championship windows.
There is a chance to open another window out there, even if Kobe Bryant isn’t involved.
But, it’ll happen a lot sooner, and as Laker fans, we’ll be spoiled once again. It would be fitting to have Mitch Kupchak, a player of the 80’s Laker teams, to carry on the tradition of winning.