Thursday was arguably the biggest night of the Los Angeles Lakers' offseason, the 2016 NBA Draft. The team didn't shock anyone with their first round pick, selecting Duke forward Brandon Ingram, a choice that was apparently unanimous in the front office.
The front office also selected 7'1 Lakers fan center Ivica Zubac in the second round, a player the team believes has the talent of a first rounder and had general manager Mitch Kupchak privately comparing him to Marc Gasol.
The Lakers are obviously pretty high on their night, but do our writers match their enthusiasm? Let's grade the Lakers' big draft haul.
How do you grade the Lakers' selection of Brandon Ingram?
Chinmay Vaidya: Drafting Ingram was a no-brainer for the Lakers. Not only did they have a need for a wing player, but this was a top-heavy draft class with two prospects well ahead of the rest of the field. The Lakers were going to pick whoever the Sixers didn't , so Ingram gets the call. Solid scorer, can play multiple positions and has insane potential. Grade: A
Ben Rosales: This was the easiest pick in the entire draft. You may have liked Dragan Bender better as a prospect -- and lest we go too far down that road, there were fairly good arguments for that; I digress, however -- but Ingram was the perfect fit for LA's roster context. He slides seamlessly into the gaping void the team has at the three, offers a shooting presence to help space the floor for the rest of the young core, and might turn into a decent defender down the road with his length.
Ingram does need to improve his handle and as is most apparent, his strength, but he's so young that these concerns will most likely be rendered moot with the passage of time. LA now boasts an enviable selection of young talent and needless to say, the future is bright. Grade: A
Daman Rangoola: Often in the draft, and especially in the Lottery, GM's are faced with a choice: do I draft the best player available or do I draft for the best fit? In the case of Brandon Ingram for the Lakers, it was a rare scenario where Mitch Kupchak and company were able to check both of those boxes.
Everything we've seen and read about Brandon Ingram points to the fact that he will have a long career in the NBA with his work ethic, his versatility, and his shooting ability. He seems to be another great "kid" (I'm old) that will build upon the type of culture Luke Walton is looking to institute in the locker room. The Lakers have done well, here. Grade: A
Bryant Freese: Ingram fills the biggest need the Lakers have on the roster, a lengthy wing player that can shoot the three-ball and play defense. At 6-10 with a 7-3 wingspan he has the length and ability to be a special player in the NBA. Many are already comparing him to Kevin Durant based on his stature, which isn't fair to Ingram. We need to be realistic and give the 18-year-old his time to develop into what we hope is an All-Star caliber player. Grade: A
Drew Garrison: The Lakers drafting Brandon Ingram is an A++. There was no other player they should have even considered taking with the pick and they nailed it. He projects to be a perfect fit for the young core and there's an easy argument to make that he's an even better selection than Ben Simmons would have been. L.A. has been starved for a young franchise small forward for years and they got their guy. There's nothing to be said besides job well done here.
Craig DePriester: In selecting Brandon Ingram with the #2 pick, the Lakers took another big step forward in their rebuild. Ingram is a potential franchise cornerstone with All-Star potential, a tremendous ceiling, and a set of skills that make him a very low risk acquisition. In some ways, I personally felt that it was better that the Lakers ended up with the #2 pick given that Simmons never could have shared the court with Randle. More importantly, Ingram fits the teams and should have an immediate on-court contribution.
Ingram is already an accomplished defender and is poised to be an elite shooter at the NBA, which are arguably the two things the Lakers needed most heading into next season. He can play both swingman positions and should be a terror on the fast break. All this excitement though, must be tempered by the fact that he will still be a very young rookie and needs to put on weight to be effective at an NBA level. As fired up as we should be about Ingram, there's no panacea that turns this Lakers team into a championship contender this season. The purple and gold's future continues to shine brighter and Ingram projects to be a huge part of that down the road. Grade: A
Sabreena Merchant: Even though I believe Ben Simmons was the better prospect in this draft, the Lakers had only one choice at number two. They made the right one in taking Ingram (despite fellow Dukie Jay Williams foolishly touting Kris Dunn ahead of Ingram before the proceedings).
Ingram fills one of the two biggest holes on the Laker roster and has even greater value due to the positional scarcity of wings in the NBA. As the youngest American in this draft, his timeline fits splendidly with the rest of the Lakers core. Couldn't have really done better with this pick. Grade: A
How do you grade the Lakers' selection of Ivica Zubac?
Chinmay: I'm a little shaky on the Zubac pick simply because AJ Hammons and Stephen Zimmerman were still available. That being said, Zubac fills a need at center and looks solid on tape. The quality of competition might not be at the class of Hammons and Zimmerman, but he should fit in well with the Lakers. I'd give this pick a B- because I think Hammons is the better player.
Ben: It's a testament to the sheer depth in this area of the draft and the insanity that went on in the mid-teens that Zubac went almost completely unmentioned in our pre-draft analysis. That said, this is because the assumption made, at least on my part, was that Zubac was going to be taken long before the Lakers' second selection came up at #32.
A massive center with decent mobility for his size and soft hands, Zubac fills a hole at the five that is only slightly smaller than the one Ingram slides into at the three. As compared to the other center options LA had available, Zubac is significantly more adept offensively than say, Chinanu Onuaku or Stephen Zimmerman, and doesn't give up that much on the other end.
While he certainly won't be an ideal switch-onto-the-small-in-the-P&R type of center, he's also not a stiff defensively and is big and mobile enough to offer good rim protection down the road. Altogether, this pick is rock solid from a value and need perspective, and this is as good as it gets in the second round. Grade: A
Daman: I know nothing about him other than the fact that he owned Kobe, Pau, and Andrew Bynum jerseys and stayed up to watch Kobe's last game. In terms of basketball, I will let smart people like Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer take the lead:
I really like Zubac. He might be the most talented C in this year's draft.— Jonathan Tjarks (@JonathanTjarks) June 24, 2016
Sounds good to me. Not bad for a #32 pick, huh? Grade: A
Drew: I like the selection of Ivica Zubac, but I won't pretend to be an expert on what he's going to bring to the table. Based on what I've gathered he looks like the kind of prospect you should kick the tires on in the range he was selected. He fills a need for the Lakers, which to me is the most important piece here, and won't take time away from any of the Lakers' other young players if he finds himself with playing time this season. It doesn't hurt that he's an unabashed Lakers lover and was hoping teams would pass on him so he could fall into a purple and gold jersey. Or gold and purple, as he tweeted. He'll get there.
I'll toss the Lakers a B here; I'm hesitant to get too ahead of myself of a 19-year-old international center until we see real minutes against NBA talent.
Craig: With recent drafts of Larry Nance, Jr. and Jordan Clarkson, Mitch Kupchak has buttered his bread at the end of the first round and second round lately. He looks to continue his hot streak with Zubac, a first round talent who slid into the second round. Zubac is a 7 footer with a good handle on offense. He's not the most mobile center, which means he's a more traditional 5, but could be a good fit next to Randle on this Laker team. After drafting Ingram, the Lakers were thinnest at the center position (sorry, Sacre) and Kupchak took a smart gamble with Zubac. Grade: B+
Sabreena: Every international expert said the Lakers got excellent value with this pick, including Mike Schmitz and Fran Fraschilla, and the video of Zubac obliterating Harry Giles in international play was all the proof I need that this guy could be a worthwhile player. Again, he fills a positional need for the Lakers, and he's young! It's more evidence that the Lakers managed this draft looking towards the future, rather than some misguided timeline to get better quickly. Grade: A
Harrison: After making myself aware of who Zubac is, I give this pick an A, with the caveat being I'm by no means a draft expert but it appears the Lakers got above average value here.
What do you think of the Lakers' draft overall?
Chinmay: Overall, I'd say the Lakers get an A. They didn't go after Jimmy Butler or any other young All-Star in an effort to fulfill some nonsense deadline. The Lakers are growing together and they stuck with that philosophy in the draft.
Ben: The Lakers arguably went BPA at both spots and got players that filled immediate and long-term roster needs, so this draft is a home run insofar as those picks are concerned. I am slightly miffed that the Lakers weren't able to move back into the second round as there seemed to be quite a few picks for the taking -- Golden State filching Patrick McCaw for cash at #38 the most egregious of the bunch, but Cleveland also bought #54 and Gary Payton II was sitting there unclaimed -- and Mitch admitted that he did try to do so last night.
Still, this is a relatively minor concern and LA still has the opportunity to make headway on UDFA signings for summer league. Altogether, that LA had a pretty damn good night remains undeniable. Grade: A
Daman: Not a hard decision here. For all the outside criticism that the Lakers "dysfunctional" organization receives, it sure as hell does draft functionally. The Lakers have done what the same smart people who mock the front office recommend: build through the draft, and they have consistently out-performed their draft positions over the past few years. Their noble pursuit to buy another pick in the second round may have failed, but it continues to show that the front office is doing things the "right way". Grade: A
Bryant: They filled both of their top needs. This is an easy A.
Drew: Solid A. They drafted the player that should have been at the top of their draft board, didn't give in to any temptation to make a trade, and walked away with a 7'1 big man that could be an interesting player or asset for them given time. The Lakers played it safe and walked away unscathed on draft night. Just take a look at the Celtics if you want to see the opposite.
Craig: Overall, Lakers fans have to be thrilled about a huge draft for the team. Kupchak walked into the draft needing to nail the #2 pick and bolster the team's overall depth. He did just that. Grade: A
Sabreena:The Lakers made the obvious play in the first round and didn't sacrifice any assets to haphazardly accelerate the rebuild. Short of fleecing the Bulls for Jimmy Butler, couldn't have expected much more. Grade: A
Harrison: I have to give it an A, right? The Lakers had easy choices, but they still made what appear to be the right ones. It's hard not to be incredibly optimistic about the two talents the team added.