Lakers mock draft: 1 dream, 1 realistic target for each round of 2024 NBA Draft

In our final 2024 NBA Mock Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers find the perfect fit for JJ Redick and his modernized system.
NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament   - National Championship
NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament - National Championship / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages
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The 2024 NBA Draft is rapidly approaching and the Los Angeles Lakers must decide how they plan to proceed with their attempts at a return to prominence. Los Angeles has two selections this year, No. 17 and No. 55, as well as the ambition to potentially pull off a meaningful trade.

Each preference would have its merits, as well as the inherent risk of losing out on an opportunity to improve.

Prioritizing the draft would mean landing an unproven commodity on a team-friendly contract. It's a convoluted process that could net a high-level player on a rookie-scale deal, but it could also bring on financial dead weight and a consumed roster spot.

Trading the pick would result in acquiring an established player, but it would also result in Los Angeles taking on a bigger salary that limits its other options this offseason.

The right answer is subjective, of course, with pros and cons sitting on both sides. As the Lakers enter the most important offseason of the LeBron James and Anthony Davis era, however, the pressure to get it right is palpable.

In the event that the Lakers choose to retain their draft picks, a simple question remains: What would the ideal outcome look like on realistic and ambitious levels?

Round 1, Realistic Pick: Kel'el Ware, Indiana Hoosiers

The Los Angeles Lakers are looking for players who can defend at the point of attack and provide versatility on offense. The Lakers are also looking to honor the well-documented request of Anthony Davis to play less minutes at center.

The Lakers potentially address both of those concerns with this selection, as Indiana Hoosiers center Kel'el Ware is the epitome of an upside big man.

From a physical perspective, Ware is a compelling prospect. He stands at 7'0" with a near 7'5" wingspan and athleticism that rivals some of the wings in this class—including a 36.0" max vertical leap and the same time posted in the shuttle run as Stephon Castle and Ron Holland II.

A rim runner who can finish with authority, Ware has intriguing pick-and-roll potential, as well as the defensive tools to become an interior anchor alongside Davis.

Ware is still relatively raw, but his growth from his freshman season to his sophomore breakout was significant. He developed an outside shot, converting 42.5 percent of his 40 three-point field goal attempts, and looked far more comfortable with the ball in his hands down low.

There's work to be done in terms of his development on both ends of the floor, but the Lakers would be justified in taking a chance on him at No. 17 overall.