The Los Angeles Lakers made a flurry of trades at the NBA trade deadline that improved the overall outlook of the team. That being said, there is still one glaring hole for Los Angeles: the team does not have any true small forward wings on the roster.
The Lakers will likely address that in the buyout market this season but that is not going to fix the problem in the long term; it is merely a short-term solution. One great thing about the moves at the trade deadline is that it gave the Lakers some roster continuity as most of the new players will be back next season. Thus, the same hole will exist.
Since we have a better idea of what next year’s roster will look like after the trade deadline we can get a better idea of what the team will target in the 2023 NBA Draft. Los Angeles still has a first-round pick (via New Orleans) as well as their own second-round pick.
That New Orleans pick has fallen in the draft order since our last mock draft, changing the complexion of the mock for the Lakers. Let’s dive into this new-look mock with the deadline behind us.
With the 17th pick in this NBA mock draft, the Lakers select Kris Murray, Iowa
The goal for the Lakers in the first round of the 2023 NBA Draft should be to draft someone who can have an instant impact next season. While a 19-year-old prospect may have a higher ceiling, a 22-year-old prospect with more college experience is more of a finished product and can contribute right away.
Kris Murray is the perfect example of the Lakers going with someone that is older to get an instant impact. In fact, what makes Murray enticing is that he has a bit of Kyle Kuzma in his game, so the Lakers might be able to find lightning in a bottle twice late in the first round.
Murray is averaging 21 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game. The six-eight forward has been more of a stretch-four for Iowa this season but could play either the three or the four at the NBA level. He has not been elite in shooting threes but he has a smooth stroke and his 36.3% three-point rate is promising.
Murray is not the most athletic wing in the draft this year but he has the fundamentals on both sides of the court to contribute in year one for the Lakers.
With the 37th pick in this NBA mock draft, the Lakers select Julian Strawther, Gonzaga
Another pick, another wing selected by the Los Angeles Lakers. Julian Strawther is more of a two-guard than a small-forward but he certainly could still fill in the need for a wing with his six-seven frame and ability to play on both ends of the floor.
Second-round picks are not the most exciting in the world but this is a good example of the kind of prospect that a team like the Lakers should target. Strawther is never going to be someone who has a high ceiling and can be a home-run selection but he is someone who can develop nicely as an NBA role player.
There is potential (as early as year one) for Strawther to be a rotational off-ball shooter off the bench that also provides above-average defense. Strawther has showcased a high motor on the defensive end that can be maximized with proper NBA coaching.
Strawther is shooting 41.5% from beyond the arc this season and like Murray, could provide an instant jolt because of his age. Strawther has three years of college experience under his belt and will be 21 by the time he is drafted.