This is a hypothetical scenario. Assuming the Lakers had the #1 pick, I have an idea who it would be, and I don’t think most would like it.
It would be Jabari Parker, over Andrew Wiggins in the 2014 draft.
As mentioned a few days ago, Kobe Bryant wants to win in 2014. He wants soldiers to be on his team, ready to go and compete. Of the players projected to be in the lottery, less than a handful are that polished. They are still very young, but the two stand out names are Marcus Smart and Jabari Parker.
Jabari Parker, for the past month, has played a lot more in the interior offensively. He isn’t just a catch-and-shoot perimeter player. He’s shown excellent footwork attacking the painted area, and taking high percentage shots within 5′ – 10′. He seems to be unstoppable from that area. He has a powerful first step and generates a surprising amount of lift with a picture perfect jumpshot. It makes it difficult for any power forward or small forward to contest. His motor in the painted area has developed, and he’s clearly not afraid of contact. The bottom line is, he has the most polished skill set at the NCAA level. His moves are NBA ready, and he can contribute on team defensive situations. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him walk onto the floor as a 2nd or 3rd option on offense.
Unfortunately, this could hurt the Lakers long-term.
Granted, Parker is an established player, even as a freshman. His skill set is more rounded than most NBA veterans. The Lakers, though, need star power. While Andrew Wiggins isn’t the loudest, most vocal player from the NCAA, he is a dynamic finisher. He has other-worldly athleticism that translates on both ends of the floor at the NBA level. His defense has been underrated all year, and his effort doesn’t wane when he doesn’t get touches on offense. When he decides to take over on offense, his impact is huge, and seems so easy to come by. He has a higher upside than Parker, and the franchise could use a bit of a spark with their youth movement.
This isn’t to take anything away from Parker. He too can be a #1 option on offense. Los Angeles wants their guy to demolish players on both ends of the floor, preferably in the most acrobatic way. Showtime was all about having five guys fly down floor. Kobe and Shaq were the best athletes at their position for a given time. Fans are looking for the next.
Unfortunately, this idea flies in the face of Bryant. Laker fans understand and appreciate his competitiveness, his drive for a championship every year. However, they’re also unwilling to relent on capturing the next big athletic star, even if it means giving up one championship.
With either player, there would be a large window to work with in terms of a championship. No player is greater than the franchise, not even Kobe Bryant. He may prefer Parker because of his abilities, but it’s likely, everyone else, for a change, would want Wiggins to lead the team.
Let’s hope the Lakers make the correct choice.