Coming into the draft with just their one first round selection, the Lakers made the most with what they had, drafting Julius Randle with the 7th pick, then trading with the Washington Wizards for cash considerations to nab Jordan Clarkson with the 46th pick.
With the two picks, the Lakers gained notoriety and respect from experts around the internet, having nabbed two players who slid past where they were expected. But what exactly are the experts saying about the Lakers draft?
ESPN.com’s Chad Ford – A-
I really liked this draft for the Lakers. They grabbed one of the three most NBA-ready players in the draft. Randle plays with the type of toughness and motor that Kobe Bryant will respect, and will immediately be a rebound machine. I’m not sure he doesn’t have more upside than we saw in Kentucky. He was on a team with a lot of alpha dogs. If his foot ends up being OK (there is an issue, but the Lakers aren’t too worried) he’s a very good value here.
And I like Clarkson as an athletic combo guard who, if he shoots it as well as he did in the first half of the season, still has upside.
Randle, alone, can’t turn around the Lakers, but he’s one of only three rookies who can hold their own from Day 1 on a team that will be in the hunt for a playoff berth in the West.
Julius Randle – A
All eyes always are on the Lakers. Randle should be used to that after playing at Kentucky. He’ll get a chance to play with Kobe Bryant, and he might be ready for that because he’s no project. That’s what’s so smart about this pick: Randle has great upside but also should be able to contribute right away. Randle is strong and proved himself. He’s been criticized for lacking ideal size and not dropping jaws with his athleticism, but he’s a physical beast with surprising skills on the perimeter and in the post. He easily could have been off the board by this point, and he’s a nice fit for the Lakers, who didn’t want to wait around on Noah Vonleh to develop.
Jordan Clarkson – A
The Lakers bought this pick from the Washington Wizards, according to Yahoo Sports. Clarkson had first-round potential and could be an ideal backup guard because he has enough size and defensive aptitude to play either guard position. To get him for cash considerations is a steal.
Julius Randle – A
Ask any of Kentucky’s opponents what they feared most about the Wildcats this past season, and their answer will be the same: They did not want to let Randle destroy them on the offensive glass. He ranked fourth in the nation in offensive rebounds and second in defensive rebounds, while also displaying an ability to score through double teams on the block and sink an occasional mid-range jumper. One concern about Randle is that his broken right foot hasn’t healed properly and may require surgery this summer. The other is whether he can continue to rely on overpowering defenders in the NBA the way he did in college. Randle has a strong upper body and uses his frame well to create space around the rim, but diversifying his arsenal of post moves would help, as would improving his ability to use his right hand rather than exclusively relying on his left.
CBS Sports – A+
I couldn’t be happier with the Los Angeles Lakers in this draft. Having Julius Randle fall to them at No. 7 after they were reportedly trying to move the pick this week was a big gift. Randle is immediately a starting caliber power forward with the potential to be a very good player in this league. He’ll be tough and active, appeasing Kobe Bryant on this roster and giving him someone he can mold. The Jordan Clarkson pickup in the second round was well worth the money. Clarkson has first round talent and can be a nice combo guard. He’ll probably play a lot of point guard in the NBA, but he’s great with the ball in his hands.