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Drew Garrison | June 26, 2014

Lakers discussion

The fate of the No. 7 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft

The 2014 NBA Draft has finally arrived and the Los Angeles Lakers are on track to select a top prospect with the seventh-overall pick. It's time to get in our final projections on what Los Angeles does with the coveted pick.

The 2014 NBA Draft has finally arrived and the Los Angeles Lakers are on track to select a top prospect with the seventh-overall pick. It's time to get in our final projections on what Los Angeles does with the coveted pick.

The Discussion

    We're just hours away from the Lakers revealing their hand for the first time in months. Speculation about what the team will do with the No. 7 pick has been rampant, with trade rumors and mock drafts serving as smoke screens while Mitch Kupchak and the front office prepare for a huge decision.

    The team may be out of range for the elite prospects like Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker, but the group of players they'll be selecting from are still considered top-tier prospects. Los Angeles will have an opportunity to select a player who could be a future All-Star, but the draft is still a crap shoot. Still, the team has been aggressive in setting up competitive workouts as they weigh their options and scout the incoming rookie class.

    The name of the game today is simple: Who will the Lakers draft with the seventh pick in the NBA draft?

  • The Great Mambino
    1

    With the 7th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers select...

    The way I see the draft unfolding right now, Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins and Dante Exum are mortal locks to be taken within the top four picks. The rise in Exum's stock has really only been rivaled by Noah Vonleh's who may be the first big man off the board even before Joel Embiid and Julius Randle, both because of health concerns. From that vantage point, I can't see the Orlando Magic, Utah Jazz and Boston Celtics passing on those three bigs, even with all the very real foot and back issues.

    From there, the choice before Jimmy Buss and Mitch Kupchak comes down to one of two options: OK State guard Marcus Smart or Arizona forward Aaron Gordon.

    Both players seemed to rate well with the organization, so much so that they were brought back to El Segundo for multiple workouts in front of Lakers brass. Smart and Gordon confirmed what we already knew: unpolished young players, with a toolbox full of untapped potential and raw, explosive athleticism.

    However, when it comes down to selecting a player, I believe that the Lakers are going to pick Marcus Smart. Jimmy and Mitch know that this is now a point guard driven league, which goes double for a 1-guard that can get to the free throw line as well as defend. Though I suspect that it will be very difficult to pass up a forward with Blake Griffin-like potential, Smart may be at the right place at the right time for this Lakers team.

  • The CDP

    Although the Lakers would certainly love to have the option value of a top three pick in the draft, they are going to leave the draft feeling like winners anyway with the seventh pick of the draft. Even with all of the health issues and workout wonders shifting things a bit, the top 4 of Embiid, Wiggins, Parker, and Exum are pretty much locked in. The Lakers will be able to choose from some combination of Vonleh, Gordon, Smart, and Randle. I believe that Vonleh's stock has risen enough that he'll be off the board before the Lakers draft. Given that the Celtics have Rondo and Olynyk, I'm presuming that they will take Gordon, leaving Randle for the taking.

    In my draft profile of Randle a few weeks ago I ran through a list of reasons why his well-rounded game and NBA readiness from Day 1 would be a great fit in Lakerland. The fact that he's lost weight (reportedly 20 pounds), demonstrated surprising athleticism, and showcased a silky smooth jumper that will allow him to stretch the floor is icing on the cake. While there have been some concerns about his foot, it appears that he has addressed them and Embiid's injuries have helped NBA draftniks put those issues in perspective. At the end of the day, I believe that Randle will be the Lakers selection come Thursday.

    Randle will be an easy piece to build around and is a no-brainer if he is on the board with the number 7 pick. He'll be able to contribute immediately without sacrificing the potential to be a franchise player for the purple and gold.

  • Ben Rosales

    The correct answer to this question is still a fairly determined "we don't know" because of how fluid the situation is before the Lakers' pick. We honestly don't know how many of the reports that have popped up from various sources are real sentiments or just smokescreen attempts to obfuscate things for potential trade partners and so forth. From what we can garner, however, we can safely say that Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, and Dante Exum will be long gone by the time the Lakers are on the clock. Same applies to Joel Embiid, as despite his injury situation, the overwhelming lure of his talent will draw a suitor before seven.

    That leaves the Lakers looking at the same group of four that have been slated as the next tier for the past few months are so: Julius Randle, Noah Vonleh, Marcus Smart, and Aaron Gordon. And honestly, prognosticating even the pair whom the Lakers will be able to pick from at seven is just guesswork. Most mocks have Vonleh going somewhere in the 4-6 range, although that too could just be smokescreen attempts at this juncture, and it appears that Boston is picking either Smart or Gordon the majority of the time.

    That would leave Randle and one of the latter two as the choices at seven and of those two, it's an easy pick in Randle. Practically every report of Randle at the private workout the Lakers held for him was uniformly positive, glowing even, and while to be fair there has been good things said about all four of these players in connection to the Lakers, Randle is seemingly the frontrunner based on the limited information we have available.

    Does that mean that he's the guy available at seven? Perhaps. It does mean something when Chad Ford and Draft Express both think he's the most likely outcome, but draft predictions are never an exact science unless there's a slam dunk number one prospect available with the top pick and that's certainly not the case here. Plainly put, your guess is as good as ours. If you put a gun to my head, I would say Randle is who is walking across the stage tomorrow, but I would definitely be crossing my fingers behind my back.

  • Harrison Faigen

    Well, the answer to who the Lakers will select on draft night certainly had a lot more variance introduced into it with Joel Embiid's injury, in addition to the rampant leaks surrounding potential trades of the seventh pick. Despite the possibility of a trade, I think the front office will hold steady and select Julius Randle. It goes without saying that Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, and Dante Exum will be gone by the time that pick number 7 comes around. I also, despite his injury, do not see Joel Embiid falling all the way to 7, although I would absolutely select him if he was there. Those four being off the board leaves the Lakers with the choice between the remaining two of the Marcus Smart, Noah Vonleh, Aaron Gordon, and Randle.

    Out of those four, I expect Vonleh and Gordon to be gone. Vonleh by all accounts has been this years king of the pre-draft workout, dominating countless cones and splashing many an unguarded jumper (to be fair, he has reportedly done well in competitive group workouts as well). Gordon's athletic measurables are the type of indicators of future star potential that gets GM's salivating, so I believe he will be gone as well.

    This would leave the Lakers with the choice of Marcus Smart or Julius Randle. There were already concerns about Randle's translation to the NBA game BEFORE all the pre-draft noise about his damaged feet, so that is why I expect him to last longer than Vonleh and Gordon of the frequently grouped together big man triptych. However, I think that in terms of playing with Kobe Bryant in his waning years, the bruiser from Kentucky is a slightly better fit than Smart, which is why I believe Julius Randle is who the Lakers will select with the seventh pick in the draft.

melo(Photo credit USA TODAY Sports)

  • Drew Garrison

    Projecting the destiny of the seventh-overall pick takes plenty of hypotheticals, but that's half the fun. In my ideal world the Lakers will be able to choose between Julius Randle and Noah Vonleh at No.7, though I imagine the front office would be perfectly happy if Marcus Smart is an available player along with Randle instead.

    I don't believe Joel Embiid will be available at No. 7, dropping to No. 6 at the latest. I don't believe Dante Exum, who has intoxicating potential and great measurables, makes it beyond the handful of teams who would love to sign a player who could be the next great international NBA talent.

    That leaves the Lakers with Aaron Gordon, Randle, Vonleh and Smart. More than anything, the Lakers fate depends on where Gordon ends up. His raw offensive game could be enough to scare teams away, or his freakish athleticism, high motor and defensive chops could squeak him into the top-6 of the draft. Los Angeles could use a jolt of excellence on defense after being horrendous on that end of the floor, but I think it'd be a reach for the team if they want as close to an NBA-ready prospect as they can get.

    Vonleh falls into a similar category with more upside than already-realized potential, but he's got a bit more going for him. He has great size for an NBA power forward and has the framework to become an all-around stretch-four on offense and defense. His talent and length, to me, screams top-six. I don't expect him to be available past No. 6.

    Randle and Smart certainly feel like the two guys the Lakers have honed in on, and if they do come down to choosing between them, it'd probably be considered a win-win for the front office. The problem, however, is that Smart is the second-ranked point guard. While some teams, like Utah or Boston, would be willing to draft Exum if he's on the board even if they have a point guard locked up, Smart doesn't make a great deal of sense for them. Randle, however, could be a fit on a few different teams, and is more likely to be off the board by the time the Lakers are on the clock.

    For that reason, I suspect the Lakers will end up drafting Smart out of Oklahoma State. I'll have my fingers crossed that somehow Exum manipulates his way to Los Angeles or Randle is still available when it's showtime.

  • Tom Fehr

    I think I'll trust Chad Ford's hints on this one and say that the most likely thing the Lakers do on draft day is selecting Julius Randle. All indications are that he killed it in LA's private workout. Additionally, it sounds like the Lakers aren't as concerned about his foot as other teams. I think the next most likely scenarios are drafting Marcus Smart and then Aaron Gordon, in that order.

About the Author

Gasolina

Contributor at SB Nation NBA, lead editor for SB Nation's Lakers blog Silver Screen and Roll, author of Stat Stuffing. Spend way too much time watching NBA plays over, and over and over. Doodling arrows on plays and creating diagrams is a hobby of mine.

I don't drink Sprite despite Grant Hill doing so.

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