3. The Los Angeles Lakers have the best track record of selecting and developing the right late draft picks
The Los Angeles Lakers do not have that breakout all-star second-round pick that some other teams have. Nikola Jokic, Draymond Green and Khris Middleton are great examples of that. When it comes to the overall body of work, though, the Los Angeles Lakers have the best track record in the league.
The Lakers have so many recent late-first round and second-round picks that turned into legitimate rotation players in the NBA. None are all-stars (at least not yet), but they are all legitimate rotation guys.
Let’s run through the recent list.
Jordan Clarkson, 46th pick in 2014: Clarkson put together some solid years in Los Angeles and has become that role player that every contending team tries to add off the bench. He just signed a hefty four-year, $51.5 million contract with the Utah Jazz.
Larry Nance, 27th pick in 2015: Larry Nance is a dynamic, athletic forward who gets forgotten about because he is in Cleveland but he is still a legitimate rotation piece. He got a four-year, $44.8 million contract and had a better Player Impact Plus-Minus (PIPM) last season than Trae Young, CJ McCollum and Fred VanVleet.
Ivica Zubac, 32nd pick in 2016: Trading Ivica Zubac for Mike Muscala was awful as Zubac is a solid, above-average NBA center. Zubac got a three-year, $21 million contract with the Los Angeles Clippers and ranked 11th among all centers in PIPM last season.
Kyle Kuzma, 27th pick in 2017: As frustrating as he can be to watch, the fact that the Los Angeles Lakers got a forward like Kuzma with the 27th pick is still a testament to the team’s drafting ability. If LA does not pay him after this season then some team will.
Josh Hart, 30th pick in 2017: I really like Josh Hart and kind of wish that the Lakers would have kept him over Kuzma in the Anthony Davis trade, but I digress. Hart has averaged 25.3 minutes per game throughout his three-year career and is a versatile guard.
Thomas Bryant, 42nd pick in 2017: Thomas Bryant really thrived in the G League and he was someone who I was sad to see go when the Lakers traded him. Bryant is a solid, young big-man with a decently high ceiling. That is why the Wizards signed him to a three-year, $25 million contract.
Moritz Wagner, 25th pick in 2018: Moritz Wagner instantly became a rotation player in Detroit, averaging 18.6 minutes per game in his second career season.
Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, 47th pick in 2018: Svi is a sharpshooter who got 22.6 minutes per game in Detroit last season and shot 40.4% from beyond the arc.
That is eight legitimate rotation players since 2014, five of which have come since Rob Pelinka took over. The Los Angeles Lakers traded into the second round in 2019 to draft THT when they did not even have a pick.
If they like him, which they do, then that probably means something. It means that he is absolutely legit.