With the 2014 NBA Draft three weeks away, the Lakers are busy doing their due diligence onto which prospect (or prospects) they should draft. With the number 7 pick in the draft the Lakers are almost guaranteed one of the following: Marcus Smart, Noah Vonleh, Julius Randle or Aaron Gordon. But in interviews, Mitch Kupchak was open about possibly trading down in an effort to snag up more draft picks. Or maybe he was alluding to purchasing some team like the 76ers (who have five 2nd round picks) 2nd rounder and going from there. Are the Lakers going to be drafting for now or the future?
Most agree that Smart, Vonleh, or Randle can all come in and help contribute to your team Day 1. But there are other prospects, like Aaron Gordon or Zach LaVine, who have all the alluring athleticism a team could ask for, but don’t have the skill set to contribute in the NBA immediately.
If you ask Kobe Bryant, he will adamantly tell you he needs soldiers that can fight the good fight yesterday not tomorrow. A LaVine or Gordon who will need seasoning aren’t what the Black Mamba is looking for when he goes to war this year. But as Mitch has also stated, the franchise doesn’t bend to the will of Kobe Bryant. Kobe signed a very lucrative 2-year $48 million deal which will pay him more than anyone else in the NBA, when on the open market, he wouldn’t have gotten even 75% of that.
The front office has also been fastidious about not throwing all their hard earned cap space away to try and make an unlikely run to another NBA Finals this season. Patience is being preached. While Lakers fans may not have patience to go through another year like this one, everyone seems to have accepted, unless LeBron James walks through that doorway, the Lakers won’t be competing for a title next season.
So should the team draft for now or take players who may have a higher ceiling, but less talent right now?
For example, lets say the Lakers trade the 7th overall pick to the Phoenix Suns for their 14th and 18th overall picks. Say goodbye to the likes of Smart, Vonleh, Randle or Gordon. Players such as Tyler Ennis, Zach LaVine, Gary Harris, Nik Stauskas, Rodney Hood, or Kyle Anderson will likely be available at this point. Would the future of the Lakers look brighter with Marcus Smart for the next four years or Tyler Ennis and Zach LaVine? ‘
This is the major decision the Lakers face heading into this month’s draft. Right now the future of the franchise is blurry. With two very different approaches that can be taken, would you rather see one of those top 7 guys on the Lakers or multiple mid-1st round picks?