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Simmons or Ingram? Who is the better fit for Lakers?

Simmons or Ingram? Who is the better fit for Lakers?
From left, NBA draft prospects Jaylen Brown, Skal Labissiere, Jamal Murray and Brandon Ingram talk before the start of the NBA draft lottery on Tuesday. (Julie Jacobson / AP)

The basketball gods have smiled down on the Lakers yet again, granting them an NBA lottery pick that just may help push them out of their recent doldrums.

And as the Lakers' fortunes would have it, they will pick second in the NBA draft for the second consecutive year.

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But because the Lakers have the No. 2 pick, they'll have to wait to decide who to select because the Philadelphia 76ers won the top overall pick at Tuesday night's NBA draft lottery in New York.

Considering that LSU's Ben Simmons and Duke's Brandon Ingram are viewed as the top players in the draft, it's not such a bad thing for the Lakers to be in this position, knowing they will get one of those talents.

Ben Simmons averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game for LSU last season.
Ben Simmons averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game for LSU last season. (Stacy Revere / Getty Images)

The Lakers are in dire need of help and talent after producing a 17-65 record last season, their low-water mark in the franchise's storied history. But that sorry record meant the Lakers had a 55.8% chance of keeping their top-three protected pick, an 18.8% chance of getting the second pick.

They could keep the rebuild going forward by drafting either Simmons or Ingram, or the Lakers could trade the pick for a star player.

Now who goes what number is open for debate.

Ingram, who played just one season at Duke, is a slender 6-9 who weighs just 195 pounds. He averaged 17.3 points and 6.8 rebounds. He made 44.4% of his shots, 41.0% of his three-pointers. His build and ability to score has left him compared to Kevin Durant.

Simmons, who played one season at LSU, is listed at 6-10 and 240 pounds. He averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game. He shot 56% from the field, but just 33.3% from three-point range. His all-around game has left him compared somewhere between LeBron James and Lamar Odom.

"Ingram has that all-around versatile offensive package where he can play two through four," said an Eastern Conference executive, who spoke on the condition of being anonymous. "The only question mark about him is his strength.

"But the question mark about Simmons is his shooting. Now that's the one thing you do all the time and you can get better at. But not only is he not a shooter, but he's a reluctant shooter. So if the Lakers pick him, I don't see Simmons and (Julius) Randle meshing that well. But if the Lakers get Ingram, they could throw him at small forward and keep that young nucleus together."

In the 2014 draft, the Lakers plucked forward Randle out of Kentucky with the seventh overall pick and they got point guard D'Angelo Russell with the second overall pick out of Ohio State in the 2015 draft. Both are starters for the Lakers.

The argument over who goes first or second in the draft even has raged at the college level.

An assistant coach whose team played one game against Simmons this past season explained why he'd select the former LSU star second.

"Unless a team is willing to play him at point guard, I think he'll be less effective anywhere on the floor unless he has the ball in his hands," the assistant, who also was an assistant coach on several NBA teams, said anonymously. "He doesn't shoot it very well. He dribbles a lot to score. He doesn't guard anybody. But Ingram, he has all the offensive game.  Plus, Ingram played for Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski) at Duke and that goes a long way for a player."

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Twitter: @BA_Turner

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