Apr 7, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Julius Randle (30) reacts on the sideline against the Connecticut Huskies in the second half during the championship game of the Final Four in the 2014 NCAA Mens Division I Championship tournament at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The #7 Pick Doesn't Matter

The player drafted at #7 does.

If that doesn’t make sense, think about the great players that have been drafted into the NBA.  Not all of them are lottery players, but you can bet they are impact players for playoff teams.  Some, have won multiple championships.

Tony Parker, was drafted 28th.

Manu Ginobili, was drafted 57th.

Zach Randolph, was drafted 19th.

Marc Gasol, was drafted 48th.

If you want to look at recent Laker history, the lone lottery pick for the last decade was Andrew Bynum, picked 10th.  While he isn’t a key contributor now, he had heavy impact on the Lakers championship runs for the post-Shaq era.  That cannot be denied.

Jan 24, 2014; Orlando, FL, USA; Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant (24) laughs on the sidelines against the Orlando Magic during the second quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sportsw

Even Kobe Bryant was drafted 13th.

 

So, what does this mean?

Some players are products of great systems.  Some players are internally driven to be great.  Some players have both, and have the perfect environment to exploit all of their talents on the floor.  In Kobe Bryant’s case, he was the 3rd All-Star guard behind Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones.  While he had the individual skill level and athleticism, basketball IQ was a question mark.  His shot selection and passiveness on defense couldn’t buy him playing time.  He saw major floor time once his game became more disciplined.

 

Mar 13, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys guard Marcus Smart (33) shoots a free throw during the first half against the Kansas Jayhawks in the second round of the Big 12 Conference college basketball tournament at Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Mar 13, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys guard Marcus Smart (33) shoots a free throw during the first half against the Kansas Jayhawks in the second round of the Big 12 Conference college basketball tournament at Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

 

There are players available that seem more polished than others. Julius Randle looks like he’s ready to play on the low block and rebound from the get-go.  Marcus Smart looks ready to provide stellar defense against point guards, while showing his aggression attacking the basket.  Noah Vonleh and Aaron Gordon need more work, but the size, skills, and athleticism are there.

The best player available could be any of those guys for the Lakers.  What matters is finding the best talent to fit within Laker culture.  The worst case scenario is drafting a player, who is not ready for NBA life, and squanders his talent away.  Guys like Gerald Green come to mind.  Gerald Green was hyped after high school, with Vince Carter-like leaping ability and a 3-point jumpshot.  It took him a long time for his maturity to match his skill level, and now he’s a great player for the Phoenix Suns.

The right guy could be Randle, Smart, Vonleh, or Gordon.  The right guy could be Dario Saric or Rodney Hood.  The Laker organization has a lot of pressure to make the draft pick work out.  If they’re able to do so, they will have landed a franchise player for years to come.

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Tags: Aaron Gordon Dario Saric Julius Randle Lakers Marcus Smart Noah Vonleh Rodney Hood

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