On Tuesday, the Lakers jumped from fourth in the draft lottery to second. Had the team finished sixth or seventh, their selection would have gone to 76ers, via the Phoenix Suns, to complete the Steve Nash trade.
Now the Lakers have the chance to add an important young piece to their core, like Duke's Jahlil Okafor or Kentucky's Karl-Anthony Towns.
"You've got to have hall of fame players to have the chance to be a great team for multiple years and that's why these draft choices are so important," said Van Gundy. "Both of them, obviously different players but both have talent. Now, what you really want to delve into is do they have an absolute love of the game, do they have that fire to work through adversity, do they have perseverance, do they have a competitive spirit that makes them unique. What all the all-time greats have, that undying need to win and will to win."
Outside of two big men, the Lakers will also look at guards like Ohio State's D'Angelo Russell and Emmanuel Mudiay, who played in China, among others. The Minnesota Timberwolves won the top overall selection in the 2015 NBA draft, to be held June 25 in Brooklyn at the Nets' Barclays Center.
ESPN Analyst Mark Jackson also warned that a top pick may not be the immediate answer for a struggling organization.
"There are teams obviously in this lottery this year that need immediate help," said Jackson. "It's important to understand that you're not going to turn a franchise around with a lottery pick, whether it be a No. 1 or a No. 7.
"It takes work, it's a process, and you've got to be willing to stay true to the process."
Van Gundy echoed Jackson's concern.
Still, the Lakers are in a much better position for the future than they were before Tuesday's lottery.
"It's a great thing for the Lakers," said Van Gundy. "We're used to seeing them never have down years, and when they have had a down year in the past, they've immediately been able to solve their problem and get a Hall of Fame talent. This gives them the opportunity picking No. 2 to do that."