Unsettling Lakers draft report proves just how badly Rob Pelinka fumbled the bag

Los Angeles Lakers v Oklahoma City Thunder
Los Angeles Lakers v Oklahoma City Thunder / Joshua Gateley/GettyImages

Heading into the 2023 NBA Draft it had been five years since the Los Angeles Lakers made a selection in the first round. Michigan's Moritz Wagner was the last first-round pick the Lakers truly made, making the 2023 NBA Draft all that more exciting for the Lake Show.

After a late-season surge resulted in the New Orleans Pelicans not swapping picks with the Lakers, Los Angeles held the 17th overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. It may not have been a lottery selection but the Lakers were still in a good spot to land a serviceable rotation player for the 2023-24 season.

The Lakers ended up selecting Indiana freshman Jalen Hood-Schifino with the 17th pick. While there was obvious potential in Hood-Schifino's game, he was rather raw and it was clear then that it would take time for him to develop into a rotation guy. With the Lakers' title window shrinking and there being other prominent prospects still on the board, selecting someone as raw as JHS went against the grain. The Lakers really had to be right about this pick.

Unfortunately, Hood-Schifino has been unable to be a consistent contributor on this year's team while prospects taken after him have turned into reliable rotation guys. To make matters even worse, it now appears that the Lakers' scouting department was circling in on another prominent prospect who has looked really good this season. However, Rob Pelinka ultimately overruled the decision as he liked JHS (via Anthony Irwin, Lakers Daily).

Lakers picked Jalen Hood-Schifino over Cam Whitmore thanks to Rob Pelinka

For those who do not remember, Cam Whitmore was projected to be a high lottery pick in the 2023 NBA Draft but ultimately fell down the draft board because of injury concerns. While the concerns were valid, the Lakers had very little to lose with the 17th overall pick.

Whitmore has missed time with a knee sprain and has only played 38 games this season but when he has played he has been far more impactful than Hood-Schifino. He is simply a more talented player with a higher ceiling, which should have been the selling point that got him to LA.

If the Lakers wanted to take a more reliable, older prospect who could actually play a role in the rotation over Whitmore that would be one thing. Heck, if that was the route the team wanted to take then it probably would have drafted Jamie Jacquez Jr.

Instead, the Lakers took a green 20-year-old who was never going to be able to have an impact on the team right away. Sure, there were risks involved with Whitmore but those risks don't even matter when the guy the team did pick isn't even playing.

Hood-Schifino has to really blossom into a special player in the next few years to justify Pelinka's decision but even then it still might not be worth it. The Lakers may no longer be a contending team and if they are, it will be because they traded JHS in some bigger deal.

Whitmore was the pick to make if the Lakers wanted a 19-year-old with a high ceiling. Jacquez was the pick to make if the Lakers wanted an older prospect who could play more right away. Instead, the Lakers went with neither.

Turned backs on. 17 people who turned their backs on the Lakers. dark. Next