The Lakers have only the last pick (60) of the NBA draft, leaving General… (Credit: Alex Gallardo /…)
On most NBA draft nights, the Lakers could look at other teams unworried that they had an insignificant stake in the selections.
The Lakers usually came off championship seasons. The previous labor deal allowed them to spend nearly infinite amounts of money to acquire players more equipped to help them win now, not later. Opponents' efforts in restocking their roster worried the purple and gold very little.
The circumstances are different entering Thursday's NBA draft. The Lakers need to acquire younger talent. Because of the more punitive luxury taxes stemming from the new collective bargaining agreement, they can no longer simply outspend teams. They'll see plenty of other teams restock, making the Lakers' quest to rebuild even more difficult.
And, by the way, the Lakers only have the last pick in the NBA draft (60th overall). Unless the Lakers make a trade for a higher draft pick, it will be a quiet night for sure. But based on numerous online NBA mock drafts, there appears to be a few candidates worthy of consideration.
1. Mike Scott (power forward, Virginia)
He has told reporters that he "belongs in the first round," but some teams could pass on him. Scott suffered a left ankle injury that required surgery in December 2010 and a follow-up procedure a month later. Had Scott stayed healthy, he would've entered last year's draft. Instead, Scott earned a medical redshirt and elevated his game in his fifth season, averaging 18 points and 8.3 rebounds, despite the aforementioned anxieties about his injuries.
The versatile forward has showcased marked improvement in scoring from his sophomore (10.3 points), junior (12) and in 10 games before his injury in his fourth season (15.9). With the Lakers needing more consistent secondary scoring in the frontcourt, Scott would provide a valuable boost for the Lakers. His injury history, age (23) and average athleticism may result in teams passing him by.
2. Kevin Jones (power forward, West Virginia)
Jones' agent told the Charleston Daily Mail that he received assurances from an NBA team with a first-round pick that it would select his client. But Bill Neff, Jones' agent, also acknowledged that the Mountaineers power forward "isn't a sexy pick." Jones doesn't have great athleticism. Questions persist on whether Jones would actually develop in the NBA. His defense remains pretty sub-par.
Still, Jones proved to be a solid front court player. Published accounts describe him as a hard worker. Jones averaged double digits his senior season in points (19.9) and rebounds (10.9). He remained pretty consistent with both his mid-range game and on catch-and-shoot opportunities. Considering Mitch Kupchak's revelation that the team's most immediate needs involves adding frontcourt players, Jones could be a good fit.
3. Tu Holloway (point guard, Xavier)
At least one NBA scout believes Holloway will be selected late in the second round, giving the Lakers someone to fill what could soon become a depleted backcourt. That's because Ramon Sessions opted out of his $4.55-million player option in hopes of getting a long-term deal. Darius Morris will become a free agent on July 1, and suggested in his exit interview that he could be swayed to move elsewhere by the promise of increased playing time.
Holloway would bring a mix of intriguing potential and raw ability. He shot only 43% from the field and 35% from three-point range, but published accounts rave about how he performs on catch-and-shoot opportunities. Xavier's coaching staff loves Holloway's work ethic and aggressive motor, which compensate for his lack of height and speed. Some NBA teams may remain hesitant to pick Holloway because of his involvement in the Xavier-Cincinnati brawl, but he has no other stains on his character resume.
4. Josep Franch (point guard, Spain)
There's a very good chance he won't be picked until late in the second round, if at all. Most European prospects get little attention. In Franch's case, concerns persist about his speed and sub-par shooting. Still, Franch possesses incredible passing skills and sharp basketball instincts. Nonetheless, the Lakers would have to be patient with his development.
5. Marcus Denmon (shooting guard, Missouri)
The Lakers' early playoff exit partly reflects their inability to consistently hit outside shots. Denmon would help in that department after leading the Tigers in scoring last season while shooting an efficient 40.7% from three-point range. Like rookie Andrew Goudelock showed last season, Denmon could be limited in other areas, including his size (too small to play shooting guard in the NBA), his ball-handling and his strength in defending bigger guards. Still, for a team that lacked consistent outside shooting, it never hurts to add another shooter on the team.
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