Los Angeles Lakers: 20 greatest draft steals in franchise history

Los Angeles Lakers. (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
Los Angeles Lakers. (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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NBA Draft
NBA Draft. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) – Los Angeles Lakers /

The Los Angeles Lakers have one of the richest histories in the NBA in all of sports. In 71 seasons of existence, they have made the playoffs 60 times, taking home 16 championships along the way. The purple and gold of the Lakers have become a worldwide brand.

There are a lot of things that go into having the success that this organization has had, but the most important part is having the players that can get the job done. Throughout their history, the Lakers have had some of the best players playing for them. A lot of that success has stemmed from doing well in the NBA Draft.

The Lakers have gotten lucky, landing the likes of Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Gail Goodrich, Magic Johnson and James Worthy with top picks. One of the rewards to a losing season is having the chance to select near the top of the draft where the best prospects, presumably, get selected.

However, to make the most of those top selections and sustain that kind of success, you have to do your work. Los Angeles is a popular destination for free agents, but they have also done well at finding diamonds in the rough via the NBA Draft.

In recent years, despite being in the longest playoff drought in franchise history, the Lakers have done very well identifying talent in the draft, whether it is a lottery pick, a late first-round pick or a second-round pick.

That is something they have done well throughout their team’s history, as they always seem to find players overlooked by other teams. These are the 15 best draft-day steals for the Lakers all-time.

*Editor’s note: Post-publication additions have been made to this article and are indicated at the bottom of each new page.*

(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) /

Los Angeles Lakers draft steals: 20. Luke Walton

Before he was a terrible coach for the Los Angeles Lakers, Luke Walton was an early second-round pick that turned into a decent role player for the Lakers. It always felt like there was that one extra step that Walton was going to take that he never did, though.

Part of that thinking is probably because of his father, Bill Walton. Bill was one of the most talented big men of all-time and if injuries did not slow him down he would have been much higher on the all-time list.

Luke never even came close to what his father did, but he did offer the team valuable minutes as a rotational player in a title-winning season. That might not seem like much, but even getting a rotational player with the 32nd overall pick should be considered a win.

Walton’s best season was 2006-07. That was the only year in which he started every game he played and he averaged 11.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. At just 26 years old, it appeared as if that was the inflection point of his career.

Walton’s role got smaller and smaller every season thereafter and he finished his career with 493 games played for the Lakers — averaging 4.9 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.

This slide was added by the editor post-publication.