Los Angeles Lakers
- No. 2: D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State, 6’5”, PG/SG, Freshman
- No. 27: Larry Nance Jr., Wyoming, 6’8”, PF, Senior
- No. 34: Anthony Brown, Stanford, 6’6”, SF, Senior
The Lakers surprised everyone on Thursday by selecting D’Angelo Russell with the second pick in the Draft. At 6’5” with a 6’8.5” wingspan, Russell can pass and shoot over opposing guards, play both guard positions, is an effective rebounder for his position, and is an adequate defender at both guard positions. Russell also has the potential to be an elite passer, as his court vision and creativity allow him to see plays a set up ahead of everyone else on the floor. Russell’s lack of athleticism does cause some concern, but his other strengths make up for that fact and have lead many to believe that Russell could be one of the best guards in the league down the road. With their 2nd and 3rd picks, the Lakers selected Larry Nance Jr. and Anthony Brown respectively. Nance Jr. is an excellent athlete and talented modern big man who can knock-down mid range jumpers and can play around the hoop, however he was a surprise pick with prospects like R.J. Hunter still on the board. Brown is three-point specialist and a capable defender, but lacks the athleticism to create his own shot.
In Russell, the Lakers have found their guard of the future. His versatility and potential make him an ideal draft pick, as he will be effective both now and in the future. This is also a good reason for taking Russell over the Lakers’ expected selection Jahlil Okafor, as while Okafor is extremely polished now, his potential for improvement in the future is limited. Selecting Russell also gives the Lakers the opportunity to chase the talented big men in this years free agent class, including Kevin Love and Lamarcus Aldridge. Russell will combine with guard Jordan Clarkson, who had a breakout season last year and the two guards will form a formidable backcourt for the Lakers moving forward. Both Nance Jr. and Brown are nice selections, though there were better players to choose from at those picks. However, with most of the Lakers’ frontcourt, including Jordan Hill and Ed Davis, expected to move on from the team during free agency, these two picks make sense as they provide decent talent and can fill the Lakers’ holes up front. The Lakers were also an extremely young team last year, and as both these players were seniors, it makes sense that Coach Byron Scott told the front office, “to get me guys I don’t have to deal with everyday”. Overall, Russell looks to be the cornerstone of a new-look Lakers, and the team’s future seems bright.