11. Nick Van Exel
The Lakers made a habit of giving up on second-round picks too soon, and it started with Van Exel in 1993. He was the 37th overall pick, but the 6’1 point guard immediately found his way into the rotation and was a key piece of LA’s rebuild coming out of the Showtime era led by Magic Johnson.
Van Exel was the starter for the Lakers for five seasons where he averaged 14.9 points, 7.3 assists, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.0 steal in 34.8 minutes per game. He was an All-Star in 1998 and earned the nickname “Nick the Quick” as he helped LA make four playoff appearances, including a run to the conference finals in his final season with the Lakers.
Van Exel was traded to the Nuggets in 1998 for a late first-round pick, which resulted in Tyronn Lue, and Tony Battie. Battie never played for the Lakers, and Lue struggled to find his way into the rotation during his three years in Los Angeles.
Nick Van Exel played eight more years, including four with the Nuggets where he averaged 17.7 points, 8.4 assists, and 3.4 rebounds in 37.5 minutes per game. He did not make another All-Star team, but the 6’1 guard remained productive. The Lakers likely have zero regrets as they won three championships during Van Exel’s time in Denver, but they still gave up on him just a bit too soon.