The clock is ticking for the Los Angeles Lakers with the 2018 NBA Draft just over a week away. So far, the Lakers have hosted close to 100 prospects for pre-draft workouts and they’ll continue to host players at the UCLA Health Training Center in El Segundo in hopes of finding the next late-draft gem.
While there have been rumors of the front office already offering a promise to Mitchell Robinson, a former McDonald’s All-American that opted to skip college, those rumors have been since disputed as “not fact based” by Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report.
However, that doesn’t mean the Lakers have not shown interest in the 20-year-old big man and the latest mock drafts reflect that.
Here’s who the experts have the Lakers taking on draft night:
The Ringer: Mitchell Robinson, Chalmette HS (25); Malik Newman, Kansas (47)
ESPN: De’Anthony Melton, USC (25); Landry Shamet, Wichita State (47)
Bleacher Report: De’Antony Melton, USC (25), Jarred Vanderbilt, Kentucky (47)
CBS Sports: Donte DiVincenzo, Villanova (25); Chimezie Metu, USC (47)
Tankathon: Kevin Huerter, Maryland (25); Justin Jackson, Maryland (47)
*SB Nation: Mitchell Robinson, Chalmette HS
*Sports Illustrated: De’Anthony Melton, USC
*Sports Illustrated and SB Nation’s most recent mock drafts only include the first round.
Most draft experts seems split on whether or not the Lakers will go big with a 6-foot-11 center like Mitchell Robinson or a small with 6-foot-3 guard like De’Antony Melton. In our previous mock draft roundups, we’ve taken a look at both Melton and Robinson and how they would fit in Luke Walton’s system.
It’s for that reason the focus of this mock draft roundup will focus on the Lakers’ less glamorous pick, the No. 47 pick, acquired in a trade with the Chicago Bulls in 2016.
In the past, the No. 47 pick has produced former All-Stars like Paul Millsap of the Denver Nuggets and Mo Williams, best known for his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers. With the luck the Lakers’ have had late in the draft over the past few years, it wouldn’t be surprising to see whoever they take blossom into an All-Star a few years down the road, however, that’s more possible than it is probable.
That doesn’t mean there won’t be a valuable contributor still on the board when the Lakers are on the clock, as there is expected to be a number of intriguing prospects like Maryland’s Justin Jackson, who Tankathon has Los Angeles taking with the No. 47 pick.
The Canadian-born forward tested the NBA Draft waters in 2017, but opted to return to Maryland for his sophomore season. That turned out to be a mistake, as Jackson missed all but 11 games for the Testudos after undergoing season-ending surgery to fix a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
Luckily for Jackson, the promise he showed in his rookie season might have been enough for teams to still consider taking the 21-year-old forward in the second round.
In his rookie season at Maryland, Jackson averaged 10.5 points per game and converted 43.8 percent of his 105 total 3-point attempts (3.2 per game). He’s also a strong rebounder at the small forward position, grabbing six rebounds per game with a team-high defensive rebound percentage (16.1).
At 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, Jackson has all the physical tools to make an impact on both ends of the floor, but he still has a few things to iron out before he can contribute meaningful minutes to an NBA team.
For starters, despite his physical gifts, Jackson is going to struggle defending wings at the next level if he doesn’t improve his lateral quickness. He also has a ceiling as a scorer because of his so-so ball handling. If it’s not an open jumper or a clear path to the rim, Jackson struggles to put the ball in the hoop.
The Lakers need help on the wing as soon as possible, but Jackson would likely spend a good chunk of the season with the South Bay Lakers in the G League unless he came out guns-blazing like Kyle Kuzma did at Las Vegas Summer League.
The 2018 NBA Draft will air June 21 at 4 p.m. PT on ESPN. Whether it be Jackson or someone else, after the last few years there’s little doubt the scouting department won’t get this pick right.
All stats were provided by sports-reference.com/cbb unless otherwise noted.