The Los Angeles Lakers will have a selection in the 2023 NBA Draft and if the team does not trade the pick before the draft, it will be the first year since 2018 in which the purple and gold welcome a first-round prospect.
The New Orleans Pelicans have the right to swap picks with the Lakers but with the two teams having the same record at this point in time, it won’t be much of a difference. In fact, the Pelicans have such a tough remaining schedule that the Lakers’ pick will probably end up being worse anyway.
Regardless, the Lakers are projected to either pick in the middle of the first round. In the latest NBA mock draft by Sam Vecenie of The Athletic, the purple and gold pick a new potential target that has not been mocked to the Lakers very often.
Lakers select Duke center Dereck Lively II in latest NBA mock draft.
Many NBA mock drafts have the Lakers either getting a wing or a guard that can defend. Vecenie breaks that mold and has the Lakers take a seven-footer that can provide depth next to Anthony Davis.
Vecenie breaks down the Derek Lively II selection, including the fact that the Mo Bamba trade has not really panned out thus far for the Lake Show.
"“The Lakers have tried to fill a void in the middle next to Anthony Davis for a little while now. It’s why they took a shot on Mo Bamba at the trade deadline, a move that has so far backfired, as he wasn’t making all that big an impact prior to spraining his ankle. On top of that, the team’s other moves at the deadline to acquire players such as D’Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley have given the Lakers actual backcourt depth for the remaining years of LeBron James’ prime if they want to retain each this summer.”"
If the Lakers don’t have any future plans for Bamba (whose contract is non-guaranteed next season) then the team is undoubtedly going to have to add center help this offseason. Even if Bamba returns, selecting a young center that can eventually take his place is not a bad idea.
Those looking at Lively’s numbers from his freshman season with Duke are not going to be impressed. The seven-foot-one center averaged 5.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks pe game. While the numbers are not amazing, there is potential in Lively as an NBA player.
He is more than the hunkering seven-footer that cleans up the glass and defends the rim. Lively has legitimate athleticism that makes him an exciting rim-running center prospect. It might not develop right away, but his ability to move in fastbreaks and come off of pick and rolls could create a very intriguing lob target in this offense.
Lively is definitely raw but his ability to defend near the rim should earn him minutes right away. If he can continue to develop his game and work on his three-point shot, which he worked on developing at Duke, then he could turn into a more well-rounded center.
Long-term Lively could be a solid selection. However, the Lakers are probably looking for a young player that can contribute more than Lively likely would be able to in year one. Because of his inability to space the floor right now, he may not be the best logistical fit next to Anthony Davis.
It is a solid pick on paper but does not seem to be the direction that the Lakers will go.