The Lakers pick second in Thursday’s 2015 NBA draft.
Presuming the Minnesota Timberwolves don’t select Duke’s Jahlil Okafor first, the Lakers should snatch up the 19-year-old center.
Okafor, at 6-foot-11 in shoes, represents a piece the Lakers have always had while collecting each of their 16 titles -- a dominant big man.
Certainly guards Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson are among the all-time greats, but the Lakers have always relied on the size of players like George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.
Okafor may not be a true seven-footer, but he’ll enter the NBA as a highly skilled offensive player.
Through 38 games with the Blue Devils, winning the NCAA championship, Okafor averaged 17.3 points and 8.6 rebounds a game while shooting 66.4% from the field.
He needs to prove that he can defend at the next level -- and hit his free throws (just 51.0% at Duke).
Franchise big men are exceedingly difficult to acquire.
The Lakers may have the opportunity to trade their No. 2 pick to the Sacramento Kings before the draft for forward/center DeMarcus Cousins -- but Okafor has less of a temperamental personality and will earn $5.1 million as a rookie while Cousins is locked in a $15.9 million deal for the coming season.
As much as the league has shifted to guard-oriented small ball, the Lakers have a tradition based in size.
Okafor should be their guy on Thursday night.