The Los Angeles Lakers cleaned things up at the NBA Draft on Thursday, walking away drafting four young talents and signing one undrafted free agent rookie. It’s a huge haul for a front office looking to mix things up on a roster they didn’t construct to begin with, bringing in their own young players to develop.
Joining the Lakers will be Lonzo Ball (No. 2), Kyle Kuzma (No. 27), Josh Hart (No. 30), Thomas Bryant (No. 42) and P.J. Dozier (undrafted), a great group of incoming players for a front office that saw 99 incoming prospects over the month-long process leading into the big night. The Lakers flexed their scouting department, confidently splitting the No. 28 pick into two selections in the same range to add another prospect in Bryant into the mix.
The new front office wound up with five incoming rookies, adding to an abundant amount of youth on the roster even after the departure of D’Angelo Russell. Ball was the presumed pick from Day 1, but sacrificing Russell for salary cap space was the clearest indication that Lonzo was on his way to Los Angeles.
ESPN’s Chad Ford gave his annual NBA Draft grades and gave the Lakers a B+ overall for their efforts. SB Nation’s Ricky O’Donnell gave the Lakers an A, and Kevin Pelton of ESPN also loved what the Lakers did:
The Minnesota Timberwolves are the night's big winners but I think the L.A. Lakers have had my favorite draft.— Kevin Pelton (@kpelton) June 23, 2017
Ford called Ball the best passing point guard since Jason Kidd and believes he was the “right pick” for Los Angeles, praising the No. 2 pick (via ESPN):
The Lakers got the guy who has been groomed his whole life to play for them. Ball might be the best passer at the position since Jason Kidd, with a feel for the game that allows him to see plays almost before they begin. Whatever the flaws in his game, his ability to make his teammates better and to lead should make him a great long-term fit in L.A. He was the right pick.
As for the Lakers’ additional first-rounders Hart and Kuzma, Ford believes they can both pan out to be solid rotation players in time. He also believes Kuzma may have been a reach at No. 27. That issue is definitely compounded by the fact the Lakers already have Julius Randle, Larry Nance, Jr., Luol Deng and Brandon Ingram to work with in that spot (via ESPN):
Kuzma and Hart are much less sexy picks. Instead, both guys are fundamentally sound players who do everything well but nothing great. I can see them carving out nice careers as rotation players, especially Hart, who was underrated because of a poor performance at the 2016 NBA draft combine. Kuzma was more of a reach, as I thought there were better prospects on the board.
Ford also liked the addition of Bryant at No. 42, noting that while his mobility is a major question, there’s legitimate talent in the 6’11 big man to be developed (via ESPN):
Bryant was once a potential first-round pick. He is huge and very skilled and plays really hard. It's his lack of athleticism, especially his heavy feet, that hurt his stock. Teams are looking for more mobility out of their big men. But Bryant is a talent and was worth the risk at No. 42.
A pretty successful draft night for the Lakers seems to be checking off the national media boxes.