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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Jayson Tatum, 2017

Perhaps the most painful of all is the fact that Jayson Tatum, a diehard Kobe Bryant fan, was technically within reach. Most agree that the Boston Celtics wouldn't have traded down if not for how determined the Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Lakers were to select Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball.

Regardless, the Lakers selected Ball just one spot ahead of Tatum, who has since gone on to become one of the best players in the NBA.

Tatum, 26, is already a five-time All-Star and four-time All-NBA honoree. He's been the arguable best player on two Celtics teams that reached the NBA Finals, as well as five that made it to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Just now entering his prime, Tatum has already built a résumé that a vast majority of players in NBA history only wish they could've compiled.

A top-tier scorer who can fill it up from all over the court, Tatum is becoming the standard for the modern forward. He defends with consistent effort, has averaged upwards of 26.4 points per game in each of the past four seasons, rebounds at a high level, and has even become a more willing passer.

An unselfish franchise player who would rather see the team win than worry about personal accolades, Tatum is a Bryant understudy who should've been a Laker.