Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak: No. 2 pick won't lead to immediate NBA title

Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak: No. 2 pick won't lead to immediate NBA title
Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak answers questions during a news conference at the team's practicefacility in El Segundo on Sept. 26, 2014. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

The Lakers are ecstatic they won the second overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft in Tuesday's draft lottery, but the team's general manager, Mitch Kupchak, on Thursday tried to dampen expectations that a championship is imminent.

"I do think that there are four or five players that are very, very good," Kupchak said on "SiriusXM NBA Radio" with Rick Fox and Jared Greenberg. "But I don't think there's anybody that, next year, will lead a team to champagne in June.

Age is Kupchak's primary concern.

"Basically we're talking about the top five or six picks in the draft being very, very young. Mock drafts put the two big guys at the top, and they're 19 [years old]," he said.


Duke's Jahlil Okafor and Kentucky's Karl-Anthony Towns are considered the top two prospects in the draft. Ohio State's D'Angelo Russell and Emmanuel Mudiay, who played in China, are heralded guards. Duke's Justise Winslow may be the top small forward.

Regardless, Kupchak said he knows he will need to improve the roster beyond the high first-round pick.

"We're going to have to get lucky during the off-season with free agency," he continued. "Kobe [Bryant is] going to have to come back and be very healthy."

Bryant's 2014-2015 season ended early with a shoulder injury that required surgery. The Lakers also lost their 2014 seventh overall pick when Julius Randle suffered a broken leg on opening night.

Jordan Clarkson, the team's 46th pick last June, was one of the season's lone bright spots, earning a spot on the NBA's all-rookie first team.

"If we do end up using our pick in the draft, let's just assume we get a big player, which if you look at our roster, you might say, 'Well, that's what they need,'" Kupchak. "Then you can say, 'Hey, they have three young players going forward that might be fun to build around.'"

Kupchak acknowledged that the Lakers could look to trade their pick, saying "that's an option."

The Lakers also have the 27th pick (from the Houston Rockets via the Jeremy Lin trade) and their own second-rounder at 34th.

After the team's worst season (21-61) in franchise history, the Lakers were pleased they didn't lose their pick altogether. Had the Lakers fallen to sixth or seventh in the lottery, they'd be forced to send their pick to the Philadelphia 76ers, to complete the Steve Nash trade with the Phoenix Suns.

"It was fun to be rewarded for just a terrible season," Kupchak said. "It would have been just really difficult to not get a pick."

Instead, the Lakers will send their 2016 first-round selection to the 76ers, with top-three protection.

"I don't think that will be the end of the world," Kupchak said, "We're just happy and relieved to get this year's pick."

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