The Los Angeles Lakers, as per usual, remain tight-lipped with their thoughts about, well, really anything. In this case, the NBA Draft is less than a week away and we're finally getting our first glimpse into how they would handle draft night had they won the lottery outright.
Per Jonathan Givony of Yahoo Sports' "The Vertical", the Lakers have a preference between Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram, the consensus top two prospects of the incoming rookie class. It appears the Lakers aren't overthinking this with consideration of other players or complicated trades, which is great to see.
While Simmons is obviously incredibly talented and would bring plenty of excitement to Los Angeles with his abilities in the open court, there is some question as to fit alongside Julius Randle and Larry Nance, Jr. Now, we can debate the idea of "fit" on a 17-win team, but duplication of assets at this stage of the rebuild rarely works out as planned. Just look at the Sixers, who will almost certainly have to move one of their young centers (Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel or Joel Embiid) and the entire league knows this, which could lower Philadelphia's leverage in negotiations considerably.
In a draft many consider to have a significant dropoff after the second pick, the Lakers will be happy to "settle" for whomever the Sixers pass. Ingram is the player the Lakers would have targeted at No. 1 had they won the lottery, sources told The Vertical. He is a perfect fit for their roster and should generate a great deal of excitement about the future.
In the paragraph about Philadelphia's intentions, Givony reports that the Sixers are telling other teams they plan on drafting Simmons, which would pave the way for the Lakers to land their preferred target. That said, it sounds like the Lakers would happily select Simmons should Philadelphia alter course at the last moment.
Now, we could get into whether the Lakers (who almost never leak anything) are posturing by saying they prefer Ingram much like an elementary school kid would say "well I wanted this Pokemon card anyway", but once you open that box of speculation, your head will start spinning. It's better to just take this report at its worth and be happy knowing (as much as we can "know") we likely won't see any surprises on draft night.
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