Mar 23, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Julius Randle (30) reacts against the Wichita State Shockers during the first half in the third round of the 2014 NCAA Men

3 Up, 3 Down: Lakers Eyes on March Madness


The Lakers will certainly have their eye on the NCAA Tournament with a top draft pick in June in their pockets. However, with the likes of Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, and Marcus Smart already making their exits in the first weekend, the Lakers may be focusing more on the guys who are out than the ones who are in. Still, a handful of prospects have strengthen their cases this weekend, while an equal amount of had their stock take a hit. Let’s take a look at both.

Stock Up

Adreian Payne – Few players shined brighter in the opening round than Payne did in Michigan State’s contest against Delaware. On the opening night, Payne poured in 41 points, shooting 10-15 from the field and 17-17 from the line, while also grabbing 8 rebounds. A couple more wins and some bad luck in June and Payne is in the Lakers sights, and he’d be a great stretch four option.

 

Marcus Smart – I know. Marcus Smart’s team lost in the opening round. How could his stock rise? Smart, however, did everything he could to help the Cowboys advance. His final stat line of the night: 23 points, 13 rebounds, 7 assists, 6 steals. In reality, following his suspension, Smart settled down, averaging just over 19 points a night and steering Oklahoma State into the tourney. As teams get Smart in individual workouts, his stock will continue to rise, but it started heading in the right direction this weekend.

 

Julius Randle – Kentucky woefully underachieved this year, but you couldn’t tell this weekend as they advanced past 8 seed Kansas State on Friday and upset Wichita State Sunday afternoon. Randle had 19 points and 15 rebounds against the Wildcats and 13 points and 10 rebounds against the Shockers. Randle is still undersized, but he battles very well and can hold his own in the paint. The better he plays, the more up draft boards he goes, and he’s already right in the middle of the Lakers range.

 

Stock Down

Jabari Parker – While both Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins will be top 3 draft picks, Parker was the more criticized of the two as the season wore on. And with the Blue Devils facing their most important game of the year, Parker put up a dud, shooting just 4 of 14, as Duke lost in the opening round to Mercer. It’s silly to think that Parker won’t be a top 5 pick at worst, but it’s safe to say his stock will take a hit.

 

Doug McDermott – Sure, McDermott poured in 30 points on opening night. But on Sunday night, McDermott put up a forgetful performance as Creighton was handled was thumped by Baylor to the tune of an 85-55 drubbing. McDermott’s skill set is limited, which is further solidified by his projected lottery landing spot. However, it was further cemented that McDermott is going to have a hard time adjusting to the NBA.

 

Joel Embiid – Sure, this is a trick answer. Embiid didn’t see any of the court this weekend. But the longer he’s out, the more question marks are raised. How bad is the injury? How easily will he recover? How will he perform in the spotlight? For now, he’s expected to be back for the second weekend of games. If he comes out and plays well, all will be forgotten. But for now, his stock as taken a hit.

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