Any number of things could happen to the seventh overall pick they hold in Thursday's
They could take one of three point guards:
They could take one of three power forwards:
Or they could back into injury-prone Kansas center
Less likely, the pick could turn into a trade for
Whatever happens, the Lakers better make good use of it when their turn comes up somewhere between 5 and 5:15 p.m. Pacific time.
They don't have a second-rounder because of the
And they have only three players with guaranteed contracts on their roster — the quickly aging Bryant, the already aged Steve Nash and backup center Robert Sacre.
This first-round stuff is practically new business for the Lakers, who have sold or traded their pick every year since 2007, when they took the highly mortal Javaris Crittenton.
They haven't had a lottery pick since
There used to be three "sure things" in this year's draft, but it tumbled to two after Embiid's injury — Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins — and left a glut of players projected four through 14, if not lower, for the Lakers to poke and prod in a second tier of sorts.
They each have pluses and minuses, as expected in a draft without a
Exum could solve the Lakers' point guard problem despite his lack of exposure to high-quality basketball in Australia making him the biggest risk-reward candidate among the top picks. Still, he's not expected to be around at No. 7.
Vonleh moved up after being measured with a 7-foot-4 wingspan and 10-inch hands, tops among players in the draft. He didn't always assert himself offensively at Indiana, failing to hit double-digit scoring more than a third of the time, but also probably won't be on the table for the Lakers.
Of the two other point guards the Lakers are mulling, Smart can score but isn't quite as athletic as they envisioned. Payton was fast and dazzling at workouts but played against only four ranked teams in three years at Louisiana Lafayette.
Of the two other power forwards, Gordon showed great energy underneath the basket; if only his outside shot and free-throw shooting were better at Arizona. Randle reportedly had a foot injury that will require surgery but was solid at workouts and had no fear of playing with Bryant when asked about it.
"I heard Kobe was a little tough on rookies, but I don't care," Randle said. "The city of Los Angeles expects nothing but championships. What more can I ask for?"
There's really only one certainty involving the Lakers' pick, and even that carries an "if."