The Los Angeles Lakers got great news on Tuesday night when they found out they would receive the second overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, especially considering they could have lost the pick to the Philadelphia 76ers had it fallen outside of the top-three selections.
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak was the team's on-stage representative at the lottery, and despite the good news, it didn't sound like he enjoyed his time in New York. "[The lottery was] drama that really, at this stage of my life, is unnecessary," Kupchak told Mike Bresnahan of the L.A. Times following the event.
Once he recovers from the stress of the event, the next item on Kupchak's to-do list will be figuring out who the Lakers will select as their reward for the worst season in franchise history. Judging by his comments to Mike Trudell of Lakers.com, it sounds like the Lakers are leaning towards adding to their frontcourt:
L.A. now has the chance to add an elite player to a young, talented roster that will feature the No. 2 overall selection for the 2nd straight season. Kupchak hinted that the Lakers feel pretty good about their backcourt situation, acknowledging that they could use some help elsewhere.
"Just looking at our white board, our depth chart, it's easy to make an argument we need a player in our frontcourt," he said. "Having said that, it's way too early or premature to say there is separation between two and three. We'll start to work players out and bring them in."
Kupchak wanting to add to the frontcourt makes more sense when considering that the two players widely held as head and shoulders above the rest of the draft class, Brandon Ingram and Ben Simmons, are both forwards. That is where the similarities between the two end however, and while the Lakers will likely take whichever one is left after Philadelphia selects the other with the first overall pick, which one of the two they prefer would reveal something about what traits the Lakers value in players.
Simmons is a mobile, 6'10 power forward who prefers to set up teammates rather than score himself. Ingram is listed just an inch shorter a 6'9, but weighs in at a wispy 196 pounds. Ingram can also play small forward by virtue of his prodigious shooting ability, as he shot 41 percent from behind the arc in his lone season at Duke.
Ingram actually seems to fit better with both the Sixers and the Lakers as the two team's rosters are currently constructed. The Lakers have invested two first round picks in the power forward position over the last two years, selecting Julius Randle in the lottery in 2014 and picking Larry Nance, Jr. 27th overall in 2015. Simmons will in all likelihood be better than both, so if the Sixers select Ingram the Lakers should still grab the Australian phenom and figure out the roster fit later.
Philadelphia picking the former Blue Devil is no sure thing, however, even with the presence of frontcourt lottery picks Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel, Joel Embiid, and Dario Saric on the roster next season. Bryan Colangelo and the front office could decide that the gap between Simmons and Ingram is large enough that they would take the best player available and trade one of their other young frontcourt players, and the Lakers won't know for sure which way the Sixers are leaning for sure until they make their pick.
It was reported before the lottery that the Lakers preferred Simmons to Ingram, and Simmons reportedly wants to end up in Los Angeles. Regardless of those preferences, whichever player the Lakers are left with will certainly fulfill Kupchak's goal of improving their frontcourt talent.
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