Last night the Lakers drafted two players, Julius Randle from Kentucky and Jordan Clarkson from Missouri, who the team believes can help turn around the sinking ship that the Lakers have become. Randle was selected 7th overall, an obvious choice given how the draft unfolded. Dante Exum was passed on by Orlando, who took Aaron Gordon, but the Jazz didn’t let him fall to LA. Marcus Smart was taken by the rival Celtics. Randle has been consistently praised asthe most ready to contribute at the NBA level immediately. His scoring touch, physicality, rebounding ability, and competitive drive are what make him such a great pick.
The Lakers purchased the number 46 pick from Washington for Clarkson. As a 6’5″ combo-guard, his size and versatility give the Lakers an athletic option in the back court. Clarkson was given a late first/early 2nd round pick, so for the Lakers to grab him at 46 could be a steal. Athletically, he tested very well at the combine, but in college he didn’t display great ability shooting the ball. He was able to get to the line efficiently and converted his opportunities at an 83% mark.
By selecting two players in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Lakers have given themselves a little more meat on the bones of the team. Prior to the draft, only Robert Sacre, Kobe Bryant, and Steve Nash were under contract. The team also has the right to bring back Kendall Marshall and Ryan Kelly as well, which appear likely due to their minimal costs. Randle will make the team and Clarkson will receive a very real opportunity to as well, putting the team at 7 players. By filling out the roster with 3 second round picks and a cast off in Marshall, the Lakers have found great value for a very low cost.
Kent Bazemore will also likely be offered a $1.1 million qualifying offer which makes him a restricted free agent. With the Lakers able to match any offer for Bazemore and the team apparently high on his potential, I’d expect to see him back in the Purple and Gold. The Lakers are going to take shots at signing pie in the sky free agents like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and potentially Chris Bosh, but if they whiff on any or all of those, they’ll likely turn to 1 or two years deal at slightly higher costs for mid-tier free agents to fill out the roster while retaining future flexibility.
Despite the proclamations of doom and gloom for the Lakers, they sit in a very desirable spot heading into free agency. A lot of teams in the league would have asked for the 7th overall pick in the draft, over $20 million in cap space, and the flexibility to sign max contract players the next two off-seasons. While things could be better, they could easily be much worse.