The Los Angeles Lakers will have to wait until the Minnesota Timberwolves make their selection at No. 1 to know what their final decision on draft night will come down to, but the front office has a good idea about what direction they're headed. The Lakers "want to go big" on draft night, meaning they'll most likely draft whoever is available between Jahlil Okafor and Karl-Anthony Towns, according to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times.
The Lakers have been searching for a franchise player at center since they moved on from the Andrew Bynum/Pau Gasol led frontcourt, and they'll have a chance at either of the top prospects available on draft night. Los Angeles interviewed Ohio State point guard D'Angelo Russell at the NBA Draft combine, but reports indicate he's playing from behind with the Lakers looking elsewhere.
This also lines up with the majority of mock drafts analysts have released since the draft order was finalized. Mitch Kupchak and the scouting department have a month to prepare for the draft, meaning there's no reason for the team to not explore every option -- including giving Russell an opportunity to prove he's "their" guy at No. 2. The chances of that, however, sounds unlikely, as Bresnahan elaborates on the current thought in LA:
The Lakers will look at dynamic Ohio State point guard D'Angelo Russell but preliminary indications are they want to go big, The Times has learned. In fact, General Manager Mitch Kupchak is fond of saying that a good big man is often more valuable than a good little man.
If it's as simple as not getting cute and drafting either of the top two big men in the NBA, the No. 2 pick will be the least of the Lakers' concerns. Finding the best way to utilize picks No. 27 and 34 might be the most difficult task at hand for Kupchak, though his track record of finding talent deep in the draft has been impressive.
It's not surprising the Lakers prefer addressing the gaping hole in their frontcourt, but any insight into what they're thinking leading up to this key moment in the rebuild is welcome.