The Los Angeles Lakers maintained their No. 2 slot in the lottery and will be able to use that pick to either trade for an established player or draft another intriguing young prospect.
There isn’t much of a debate at the top of the 2016 NBA Draft, but the Lakers also have to think about the 32nd overall selection they have in this draft. The second round has produced quality talent in the last few years, including a Missouri guard who joined the purple and gold in 2014.
The Lakers cannot take this selection lightly. Since the 2012 draft, the second round has produced the following notable players; Draymond Green, Jae Crowder, Khris Middleton, Will Barton, Mike Scott, Allen Crabbe, Nikola Jokic and Josh Richardson, to name a few.
Obviously Los Angeles shouldn’t be expected to take a player of Green’s or Middleton’s caliber. However, the above list shows that second round picks can no longer be considered ‘throwaways’. The Lakers can add another piece to the rebuild if they do their homework with this pick. Here are five players I think the Lakers should target with the 32nd overall pick and possibly even trade back into the late first round for.
A.J. Hammons – Center, 7-0, 261 lbs, Purdue
People get so caught up in Golden State’s small-ball revolution they forget about the 7-footer in the middle of that stifling defense. Everybody still needs a rim protector at the center position.
Hammons is a ready-made rim protector and rebounder, something the Lakers desperately need. The big man is more mobile than most centers and has the ability to finish in the post on the offensive end. Hammons also hits 71 percent of his shots from the free-throw line, meaning he won’t be subject to the "Hack-A-Shaq" games.
He averaged 15.0 points and 8.2 rebounds per game in his final season at Purdue, and Hammons was always a good shot blocker (averaging at least 2.0 blocks per game in each of his college seasons). While there isn’t much upside, Hammons can certainly be a defensive force.
Malcolm Brogdon – SG/SF, 6-5, 215, Virginia
Brogdon became a two-way force in his final season in Charlottesville, averaging 18.2 points per game while guarding the opposing team’s best player. Brogdon canned 39 percent of his threes in his senior season and that shooting ability will allow him to be a valuable wing player in the league.
Much like his former Virginia teammate Justin Anderson, Brogdon will work his way on the floor because of his defensive ability. He might have to add some muscle to defend some of the bigger small forwards in the league, but Brogdon has great potential for a guy projected to go in the middle of the second round.
Jaron Blossomgame – SF, 6-7, 220 lbs, Clemson
(Update: Blossomgame has withdrawn from the draft)
Need a wing scorer? Blossomgame played 34 minutes per game in his junior season at Clemson and the small forward balled out, scoring 18.7 points per game on 51 percent shooting from the field and 45 percent shooting from deep.
Blossomgame led the Tigers to key ACC victories, but couldn’t get past some rough losses early in the season. Blossomgame has the size to play small forward in the NBA and his elite scoring ability in college should translate to the pros, even if his efficiency slightly regresses. Defense is the biggest concern with Blossomgame.
Ben Bentil – PF, 6-9, 235 lbs, Providence
Bentil averaged 21.1 points per game last year at Providence, but his ability to "stretch the floor" might be overstated. Bentil his 32 percent of his shots from behind the arc and while that might be alright for a big guy, that number will have to go way up if Bentil wants to stay in the league. He has the size to play the power forward position and his shooting ability is certainly valuable, even it isn’t fully developed yet. Bentil might be a stretch four and scorer on the second unit if his overall game progresses quickly.
Michael Gbinije- SG/SF, 6-7, 200 lbs, Syracuse
Gbinije played almost 38 minutes per game last year at Cuse, but his offensive output was solid. The guard/forward scored 17.5 points per game, shooting 46 percent from the field and 39 percent from three. Gbinije also dished out 4.3 assists per game and was the go-to player when the Orange needed to create offense.
His free throw shooting is concerning and he might not be able to hang with the small forwards of the NBA defensively, but Gbinije could be a valuable second-unit scorer. He will need to build his lanky frame in order to tangle with some of the bigger wing players in the NBA.
The Lakers can't go wrong with any selection, but Hammons and Brogdon are most likely to make an immediate impact. Blossomgame might be the most versatile of the group with his shooting ability and size. Bentil would be useful in small-ball lineups if his outside shooting improves. Gbinije could give the Lakers a second-unit ball handler and scorer to complement Lou Williams.
The franchise cornerstone Los Angeles takes with the second overall pick will generate most of the attention, but it's second-round draft choice won't be a throwaway.