The NBA Draft lottery is just over a week away, giving draft analysts a final chance to make projections before the order becomes official. The latest mock draft from Jeff Goodman of ESPN (Insider) has the Los Angeles Lakers selecting Emmanuel Mudiay with the fourth-overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.
Karl Anthony-Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves), Jahlil Okafor (New York Knicks) and D'Angelo Russell (Philadelphia 76ers) all cleared the board before the Lakers hit the clock, and this is certainly one of the likeliest outcomes based on the current draft order. Mudiay provided a small sample of what he can provide while in China, but an ankle injury sidelined him for most of what would have been his freshman season.
It's worth noting that Goodman's previous mock draft -- which was submitted days before the end of the regular season -- had Russell going to the Lakers at No. 4. The biggest difference was the 76ers being the No. 2 team and taking Okafor. If Philadelphia falls out of contention for the two big men, Goodman expects them to take Russell to replace the recently-traded Michael Carter-Williams.
Jordan Clarkson's breakout season makes this a tricky spot for the Lakers, but Mudiay has been in line to be one of the next big point guards to join the NBA for a long time. He's a top prospect, and Goodman believes taking the player with the highest ceiling will be the Lakers move even with Justise Winslow, Willie Cauley-Stein and other players in the mix still available.
Chad Ford of ESPN recently took over as general manager for every team and had a much different perspective on how each team should draft, leading to Okafor falling into the Lakers' lap at No. 4. That's a stretch, but ultimately these mocks will become moot once the lottery sets the table. It's still fun to think about the possibilities in the meantime.