The Los Angeles Lakers were "settling in on" drafting Jahlil Okafor just a few days ago, but D'Angelo Russell is still in play with the No. 2 pick. The Lakers believe that Russell is a "star" and is the "special one" over Okafor, according to Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report. Los Angeles has kept their draft night intentions close to the vest, but with just hours until their big decision must be finalized, this could be an ongoing discussion within the Lakers' front office.
Russell is one of the lottery talents that worked out for LA twice, and the Lakers also had a chance to sit down for an interview with D'Angelo during the draft combine in Chicago. The point guard out of Ohio State has made it known how openly he'd embrace the opportunity to be the next backcourt player to lead the Lakers, and that kind of character is appealing to the purple and gold.
D'Angelo may have done enough to captivate the Lakers with his follow-up workout, personality and talent, according to Ding:
Although the Lakers respect Jahlil Okafor's size and skill (his defensive potential, not so much), momentum and consensus have been growing in the front office that Russell, not Okafor, is the special one.
It's not really so much the shift of the modern game toward the perimeter. This massive decision was always going to be about specific individuals, not the positions they play, and the vibe from Russell has been that he fits the mold of a leader, a winner and a Laker.
It didn't help that, according to team sources, Okafor's second predraft workout with the Lakers was a distinct drop-off from the first—whereas Russell was channeling Stephen Curry's velvety stroke in his follow-up workout with the team.
This could also just be a smokescreen created by the Lakers to try and leverage additional assets from the Philadelphia 76ers. Philadelphia is rumored to be interested in moving up to No. 2 to select Russell, and if the Lakers put up the front that they're also locked-in on the talent point guard they could drive the price up for Sam Hinkie.
The Lakers could simply be interested in selecting D'Angelo Russell, too. His analytical projections are top-notch, he has all of the tools that a team wants in a dynamic guard, and Los Angeles could then turn their attention to finding a top-tier big man through free agency.
Either way Los Angeles is in position to walk away a winner on draft night with a great talent in hand and future to look forward to. Whether that's in the hands of D'Angelo Russell or Jahlil Okafor may not be clear until one of their names slips out of Adam Silver's mouth.