It's been a few days since the Los Angeles Lakers dropped to the seventh-overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft and the mock drafts have poured in. The first batch of mocks immediately following the results leaned heavy toward point guard Marcus Smart out of Oklahoma State and power forward Noah Vonleh out of Indiana. How 's that holding up with the first full round of mock drafts now engraved into the forever that is the Internet?
Julius Randle out of Kentucky is emerging as a favorite early on. He's projected to drop to the Lakers in ESPN Chad Ford (Insider), CBS Sports' Matt Moore and Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix's mock drafts. Randle is considered one of the most NBA-ready prospects in the top-10, perhaps behind only Duke's Jabari Parker, and would fill out the team's immediate need at power forward. Randle would be a good draftee who could contribute out of the box, but his availability at seven is a big question. Will the Utah Jazz and Boston Celtics pass on the opportunity to draft him?
DraftExpress has a scouting video on Randle, though it's worth noting they released this last Dec. Still, worth a look if you haven't seen much on Randle:
Marcus Smart remains another favorite to drop to the Lakers at seven. SB Nation's Ricky O'Donnell, Yahoo Sports, NBA Draft Net and CBS Sports' Gary Parrish all have the Lakers drafting Smart as Kobe Bryant's next backcourt mate. It addresses a roster need for the Lakers, so it's not farfetched to see the team rolling the dice on the hyper-competitive guard, but it's also worth noting the Lakers have needs everywhere.
Noah Vonleh was projected to the Lakers immediately, but his value is "soaring" following his great combine. ESPN's Chad Ford had this to say about Vonleh (Insider):
Where does he go? There are scouts who prefer Julius Randle because he's a more polished low-post scorer or Aaron Gordon because he's a better defender and an even better athlete, but I think Vonleh has the edge right now. He'll never be as explosive as Gordon, but his skill level and size are both much higher. And I doubt he'll ever be the warrior in the paint that Randle can be, but he's got the potential to be very good there and his length and versatility give him more options offensively.
I think his range starts with the Magic at No. 4, the Jazz and Celtics will give him a hard look at No. 5 and No. 6 and I don't think he gets past the Lakers at No. 7.
The majority of mocks have Vonleh drafted by either Utah or Boston before the Lakers ever have the opportunity, but CBS Sports' Zach Harper and DraftExpress put Vonleh in a Lakers uniform come June 26.
There's still a great deal of time before any of these picks are locks, especially with group workouts barely starting up. The Lakers will have to sift through the information they gather, then hope one of their guys is still available after six teams pick the next piece for their franchise.