The Los Angeles Lakers are currently looking to advance in the NBA Playoffs and potentially win championship no. 18. While the players and coaching staff focus on that journey, the front office should keep an eye on the future.
The first step in the upcoming offseason is the 2023 NBA Draft, where the Lakers have the 17th overall pick in the first round. Los Angeles actually got its first-round pick back from the New Orleans Pelicans as they had a worse pick in the first round (14th) and only had a pick swap. Thus, LA gave New Orleans absolutely nothing for the Anthony Davis trade this year.
With the 2023 draft order set outside of the lottery, the NBA mock draft are starting to trickle in and fans are getting a better idea of who LA might target with this pick. In the latest NBA mock draft from CBS Sports’ Kyle Boone, the Lake Show selected Duke’s Dariq Whitehead with the 17th overall pick.
Lakers land Lance Stephenson comp in Dariq Whitehead in latest NBA mock draft
The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor wrote that Whitehead has shades of “steady” Lance Stephenson in his 2023 NBA Draft guide. While that might not seem like the most exciting player to be compared to, there is potential there if the Lakers can develop Whitehead properly.
Whitehead has all the tools and intangibles to be a really solid rotation player in the NBA. The six-nine wing has dynamic length that will play well on both offense and defense and he has showcased the ability to drain threes at a high rate. He shot 42.4% from three for Duke last season.
The Duke freshman has all the makings of being a three-and-D wing that can instantly get minutes in an NBA rotation, even if he is just playing defense and offering spot-up shooting. He needs to work on his dribbling but his shotmaking should play well, especially if the team can get him moving off-ball.
If Whitehead produced more in college then he would easily be a top-seven prospect because of the intangibles that he possesses. However, injuries have derailed his production and as a result, we could see a lottery talent fall out of the lottery.
That could benefit the Lakers, who should absolutely be looking for someone with Whitehead’s athletic profile with the 17th overall pick. If he actually falls to LA at 17 then it would be hard to see the team pass on him unless there is a different home run prospect that also falls.