The 2014 NBA Draft is finally here. The Los Angeles Lakers are slated to take the seventh-overall selection in one of the most hyped drafts in recent memory. Live coverage of this huge event begins at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN and carries into midnight.
The Lakers' 27-55 record had them in line to take the sixth-overall pick, but the Cleveland Cavaliers jumped into the No. 1 slot of the draft and pushed Los Angeles down to No. 7. The team should still be in position to draft a top-end prospect though, just on the edge of the first projected big drop-off in talent.
There are more questions and hypothetical situations lately in Laker Land, but answers begin pouring in tomorrow. If you're looking for everything we DO KNOW going into the big night, check out The Great Mambino's cheat sheet.
We profiled the most-likely prospects the Lakers will be taking with the seventh pick, preparing for the team's first significant rookie selection since Andrew Bynum. Check out the deep work our crew here at Silver Screen & Roll did as we explored the incoming rookie class.
Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart would be a huge upgrade at a positional need at point guard and should be able to contribute immediately. He has great size for his position and is dangerous when attacking the rim, but lacks a consistent perimeter game and had a tendency to force tough shots. Still, his strength in traffic and ability to draw fouls should make him a tough cover and he could take some of the ball-handling duties off the hands of Kobe Bryant.
Indiana Hoosier Noah Vonleh had such a strong start to his season that Ben Rosales pointed to the big man being on the Lakers' radar in January. His upside is ceiling-player comparison is often Chris Bosh, though Vonleh is working on his three-point shot earlier in his career. He's 6'9 but has a gigantic 7'4 wingspan, making him an ideal size to become a versatile four on both ends of the floor. The downside is he'd be more of a project player than Randle.
Julius Randle, the ready-to-go power forward out of Kentucky, could be the next face of the Lakers' frontcourt. Randle used his NBA size and frame to bully college frontcourts in the paint, pulling down 10.4 rebounds while averaging 15 points per game. His 6'9 height and seven-foot wingspan measures out equal to David Lee, dashing some critiques of his length severely limiting him at the NBA level.
He's been the heavy favorite projected to Los Angeles in mock drafts, especially after he impressed the Lakers in a private workout. There are minor health concerns as he could need corrective foot surgery, but it's considered a minor procedure.
Aaron Gordon could be the backbone for a Lakers' defense that has been horrendous over recent seasons. His offensive game is raw, and his free-throw shooting percentage -- just 42 percent through his rookie season -- is troubling, but he should still be able to contribute around the rim and could be a monster in transition. His ability to cover multiple positions and switch around the perimeter on defense make him one of the most intriguing players in the draft.
That's without mentioning he's an athletic freak.
It's hard to measure how the Lakers feel about developing him on offense, but they brought Gordon in for multiple workouts.
Last, but not least, is former near-consensus No. 1 draft pick Joel Embiid. A serious foot fracture in the same bone that deteriorated the careers of Yao Ming and Bill Walton could send him tumbling down the draft board to No. 7, though most mocks project his furthest landing spot as the Boston Celtics at No. 6.
The Lakers might be too spooked off by the need to find a quality player who can produce immediately with their coveted pick, but if he's still on the board, he'll be the best prospect available. A little lady luck and health provided.
The Lakers could stand pat and select a highly-regarded prospect at No. 7, but the team has been linked to a few trade rumors that would send the seventh-overall pick elsewhere.
Los Angeles was tied to a rumor centered around a trade landing Kevin Love in Golden State, the seventh-overall pick in Minnesota and Klay Thompson in Los Angeles. Trade discussions between Minnesota and Golden State have reportedly cooled off, and little else has come up indicating the Lakers are actively pursuing Thompson.
Lakers' Salary Cap
Lakers' Salary Cap
The Philadelphia 76ers have also been mentioned as an intriguing trade partner. The Lakers could trade down to the tenth-overall pick or possibly acquire additional assets in Michael Carter-Williams or Thaddeus Young in some sort of package deal, or use the Sixers as a place to dump Steve Nash's expiring $9.7 million contract. Philadelphia owns picks No's. 3 and 10 in the first round.
There hasn't been a strong indication the Lakers are trading out of their spot, but they've done their diligence in working out numerous players who could be available from the ninth-overall pick into the mid-twenty's. The front office looks well prepared for the draft and has information on a wide-range of prospects, as written here.
The Lakers salary situation
Ben Rosales, our local detail master, took a deep dive into how the Lakers salary situation looks like going into the summer, and how dropping to the seventh-pick created a bit more cap room for Los Angeles.
The Lakers' salary is going to be a huge point of discussion going into a free agency period with coveted players, and this is a great way to get up to speed on where the front office stands going into any potential draft-day deals and free agency.
The Lakers reach their first true deadline and will be forced to show a portion of their hand heading into a sensitive off-season. The team has an opportunity to add a high-potential impact rookie with the seventh-overall pick, but there's no telling what other options the front office may be weighing.
A burnt out season with Dwight Howard followed by a franchise-low point has brought the Lakers with a top-10 pick in hand to Barclays Center. The first step into the great unknown is at the draft when new NBA commissioner Adam Silver shakes the hand of whoever the Lakers select.
Enjoy the festivities, it looks like a wild night in the NBA. The appetizer before July 1.