Lakers' No. 2 pick: the case for Ohio State guard D'Angelo Russell

Lakers' No. 2 pick: the case for Ohio State guard D'Angelo Russell
Ohio State point guard D'Angelo Russell drives to the basket duringa loss to Arizona in the NCAA tournament on March 21, 2015. Russell is considered one of the top point guards available in this year's NBA draft. (Greg Wahl-Stephens / Associated Press)

The Lakers pick second in Thursday's 2015 NBA draft.

While historically the Lakers have relied on the size of centers like Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O'Neal, the franchise has also partnered their big men with star guards like Jerry West, Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant.

In Ohio State guard D'Angelo Russell, the Lakers may have the next face of the franchise.

The Lakers need to find a replacement for Bryant, who is heading into the final year of his contract and his 20th season in the league.

Russell has a strong personality to go with an excellent shooting stroke and high-level playmaking ability.

Through 35 appearances with the Buckeyes, the 6-foot-5 freshman guard averaged 19.3 points, 5.0 assists and 1.6 steals a game while shooting 44.9% from the field and 41.1% from three-point range.

Russell likens his game to that of Golden State guard Stephen Curry, the NBA's reigning most valuable player.

The Lakers must adapt to the times. Guards rule the league, which has evolved to a faster-paced, open court game.

Certainly the Lakers would need to pair Russell with the right forwards and centers, but approximately $22 million in salary cap room this summer could help solve that problem with players like LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love, DeAndre Jordan and Marc Gasol, among others, hitting the free agent market.

Duke center Jahlil Okafor and Kentucky forward/center Karl-Anthony Towns may become forces in the league, but the Lakers should zero in on Russell with the No. 2 pick on Thursday night.

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