Ranking the Top 10 Draft Picks in Lakers History

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The Los Angeles Lakers have made some epic draft picks over the years. Here are the 10 best.

Jun 25, 2015; Brooklyn, NY, USA; D’Angelo Russell (Ohio State) shakes hands with NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected as the number two overall pick to the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the 2015 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers are unquestionably focused on the 2016 NBA Draft coming out of the 2015-16 season. After picking up lottery picks in the past two drafts in Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell, the Lakers are unquestionably looking to add another high-caliber young player to their core as the rebuilding project wears on (assuming and praying that they keep the top-three protected first-round pick).

Hitting big on a draft prospect can change the fortunes of a franchise. In the modern NBA, we see instances of that with the likes of Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis turning Oklahoma City Thunder and the New Orleans Pelicans, respectively, into either teams on the rise or perennial title contenders after their teams used a top lottery pick to select them.

The Lakers are no exception to this, either, as draft picks over the history of the franchise have changed the direction of the team for years to come. However, the Lakers are interesting in the fact that the most important player to the organization over the past 20 years in Kobe Bryant wasn’t actually selected by the Lakers. 

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In the 1996 NBA Draft, the Charlotte Hornets selected Bryant with the No. 13 overall pick. However, Bryant was promptly traded to the Lakers in exchange for center Vlade Divac. While there are players on this list who were selected via draft-day trades, the trade for Bryant with the Hornets wasn’t completed until days after the draft. All of that is to say, he wasn’t technically selected by the Lakers in the ’96 Draft.

There’s really no debate about the soon-to-be-retired Kobe’s impact on the Lakers organization, but this is an organization with success that goes unmatched by most other franchises over the course of the NBA. That doesn’t happen without the draft.

Even without Kobe in the fold, the Lakers have had a multitude of draft picks positively change the franchise over their decorated history. These are the 10 most important draft picks in Lakers history.

Next: No. 10 Jordan Clarkson