Lakers in position to draft either Jahlil Okafor or Karl-Anthony Towns

Lakers in position to draft either Jahlil Okafor or Karl-Anthony Towns
Kentucky's Karl-Anthony Towns, right, drives on Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky during the NCAA semifinals on April 4, 2015. The Lakers are in a good spot to draft Towns. (Streeter Lecka / Getty Images)

Good news for the Lakers would have been the fourth or fifth pick in the 2015 NBA.

Instead, they'll draft second, behind the Minnesota Timberwolves after jumping in the draft lottery on Tuesday.


"We played like crap all season so it's only right we get the #2 pick HA #lakerluck #goodday," tweeted Kobe Bryant.

The top prospects in the draft are probably Duke's Jahlil Okafor and Kentucky's Karl-Anthony Towns.  The Lakers are absolved from choosing between the two, assuming the Wolves don't go in a different direction, perhaps Ohio State guard D'Angelo Russell.

Okafor has the potential to be a true low-post scoring option.  He'll need to play with a point guard who can make an entry pass -- not a given in today's modern pick-and-roll NBA.

He'll also need to be surrounded by shooters to space the floor.  Okafor's biggest weakness would be on the defensive side of the game, an area where Towns shines.

Towns is the more versatile player.  He is quicker on his feet, and a superior shot-blocker -- but not as polished a scorer.

Of course that's based on their play in college, Okafor winning the NCAA championship and Towns a part of a nearly undefeated Kentucky squad.

Both may eventually develop into All-Stars. The Lakers will presumably land the one overlooked by Minnesota.

The Lakers also need to do their due diligence. Russell is an intriguing prospect with sharp passing and shooting skills.  Emmanuel Mudiay, who played in China, isn't as good a shooter but is more athletic than Russell.

Whatever the decision, Tuesday was a huge win for the Lakers, who would have lost their first-round pick to the Philadelphia 76ers as part of the Steve Nash trade, had they finished sixth or seventh.  Instead, the Lakers owe their 2016 first-rounder (top-three protected) to the 76ers.

The team will work out players in anticipation of the June 25 NBA draft.  The franchise also has the 27th (via the Houston Rockets) and 34th picks.

Julius Randle, the Lakers' 2014 seventh-overall pick, will be back on the floor next season after breaking his leg on opening night in October.  The Lakers also stand to have roughly $23.5 million in cap room this summer, if they choose not to pick up Jordan Hill's $9-million option.

With Okafor or Towns, Hill would probably be superfluous at that price.

Bryant will also return from a shoulder injury in what is expected to be his final season, one that is suddenly looking a bit more promising with the Lakers' lottery luck.



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