5 Active stars the Los Angeles Lakers missed drafting by a single pick

The Los Angeles Lakers have drafted icons, All-Stars, and high-level role players. What about the active players they missed? How close was L.A. to another dynasty?
2024 NBA Finals - Game Two
2024 NBA Finals - Game Two / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages
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The Los Angeles Lakers have utilized the NBA Draft to acquire a remarkable list of iconic players. Kobe Bryant was a draft-night acquisition, while Elgin Baylor, Magic Johnson, Jerry West, and James Worthy were all drafted directly by the Lakers.

Unfortunately, for every legend drafted, there will always be a star-caliber player who got away—and the current iteration of the Lakers are as aware of this as anyone.

In recent years, Los Angeles has come painfully close to landing some of the best players in the NBA via the annual selection process. It's a brutal reality to come to terms with, as the franchise's greatest rival has often been the beneficiary of such events.

At the 2023 NBA Draft, it was former Lakers head coach Pat Riley who appeared to get the last laugh with a critically acclaimed selection at No. 18 overall—just one pick after Los Angeles. It was a painful twist of fate that epitomizes how close the Lakers have been to building one of the best rosters in the NBA.

The question is: Who are the best active players that the Lakers missed out on drafting by just one pick?

Honorable Mention: Jaime Jaquez Jr., 2023

The obvious reason this is an honorable mention is that it's only been one season. Jaime Jaquez Jr. isn't a star yet, and it's far too soon for Jalen Hood-Schifino to be written off as an inferior player simply because of a rookie season.

It should still be acknowledged, however, that the Lakers were just one pick away from adding Jaquez, who played four seasons at UCLA, in 2023.

Jacquez appeared in 75 games for the Miami Heat as a rookie, starting 20 and providing well-rounded value. He averaged 11.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.1 offensive boards, 2.6 assists, 1.0 steal, and 0.9 three-point field goals made in 28.2 minutes per game.

Jaquez also started four playoff games for the Heat during the series against the Boston Celtics, thus putting a bow on a strong rookie season.

For his efforts, Jacquez was named to the 2024 All-Rookie First Team. It was a deserved honor for a player who defended with effort and intensity, and offered a bit of everything to a Heat team that made the most of the No. 18 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.

Hood-Schifino has ample time to develop into a high-level player, but the most recent potential miss still deserved to be mentioned out of respect to Jaquez.