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What if we redrafted the 2014, 2015 and 2016 NBA Drafts for the Lakers?

How many draft picks would the Lakers take a do-over on from 2014, 2015 and 2016? We tried to find out.

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NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Atlanta Hawks Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Editor’s Note: This week is “What If?” Week at SB Nation, so we’ll be taking a look at various hypothetical scenarios involving the Lakers. Today, we take a look at what might have happened if a bunch of NBA bloggers from 2020 with time machines went back to 2014, 2015 and 2016 and drafted for the teams they cover.

Draft season is one of the most fun times of the year for NBA fans. Every team’s fanbase is convinced their franchise will find a diamond in the rough, every lottery pick looks like a future star, and hope springs eternal.

The reality is, however, that the draft is often an overrated method of talent accrual. Every so often a team like the Kevin Durant/James Harden/Russell Westbrook version of the Oklahoma City Thunder comes along that is built almost entirely through the draft, but for the most part, modern winners are built through shrewd drafting and getting a star to join your team in free agency.

Still, it’s fun to draft teams, and with no basketball going on for at least another month or two while the league figures out how (or if) to come back from the current coronavirus stoppage, we SB Nation NBA team bloggers got together over the last couple days and re-drafted the 2014, 2015 and 2016 NBA Drafts. Yesterday we guessed at what would have happened if the Lakers had trusted the process, and today we’ll see what might have happened if they had used a different process.

Now, I know what you’re asking: Why would anyone entrust me, someone who is definitely not qualified to manage an NBA team, to run a draft? I have no idea, but here we are.

A couple of things to know beforehand:

  • We only redrafted the first rounds
  • No trades were allowed
  • The Suns were not allowed to sell their picks (okay fine no teams were, it’s just funnier if I specified the Suns)
  • If a person ran out of time, our league manager (aka my boss) picked someone for them. If you don’t like any of my picks, I will absolutely blame them on him — even though it’s not true — because I’m assuming anyone who is going to yell at me wasn’t patient enough to read this part anyway

With that out of the way, on to the draft!

2014: The bad one

My goodness did I forget how disappointing this draft was. Remember when we thought Andrew Wiggins might be good? What a time to be alive.

Even with the benefit of hindsight, the Lakers ending up with the seventh pick that year really did get the rebuild off to an un-ideal start. I considered going with Julius Randle again — I still believe! It’s not his fault the Knicks are a perpetual tirefire of dysfunction! — but since we’ve seen that movie play out and we know it doesn’t end well, I ended up going with Jusuf Nurkic at No. 7.

He may be injured this season, but the Bosnian Beast is, well, a beast, and if healthy would be a valuable player on this Lakers team (or at the very least could have fetched something in a trade if he’d made it to this point). I’ll be honest, though, this was a tough one, and I get it if you’d rather have Clint Capela, Gary Harris, or one of the other available guys. I didn’t feel super strongly and ultimately, as an executive, you just have to go with your gut.

Also of note from this draft: In a testament to the Lakers’ scouts’ talent evaluation abilities, Jordan Clarkson (a second-rounder they purchased on draft night) went in the first round. This is a theme in these drafts.

Here is the full order (You can go here to see which teams are picking, our table tool is not letting me add that for some reason):

2014 SB Nation Redraft

Original Pick NEW PICK
Original Pick NEW PICK
1 Andrew Wiggins Joel Embiid
2 Jabari Parker Nikola Jokic
3 Joel Embiid* Marcus Smart
4 Aaron Gordon Aaron Gordon
5 Dante Exum Spencer Dinwiddie
6 Marcus Smart Zach LaVine
7 Julius Randle Jusuf Nurkic
8 Nik Stauskas Clint Capela
9 Noah Vonleh Julius Randle
10 Elfrid Payton Andrew Wiggins
11 Doug McDermott Gary Harris
12 Dario Šarić Joe Harris
13 Zach LaVine Dario Saric
14 T. J. Warren Bogdan Bogdanovic
15 Adreian Payne TJ Warren
16 Jusuf Nurkić Rodney Hood
17 James Young Jerami Grant
18 Tyler Ennis Dwight Powell
19 Gary Harris Jabari Parker
20 Bruno Caboclo Elfrid Payton
21 Mitch McGary Jordan Clarkson
22 Jordan Adams Doug McDermott
23 Rodney Hood Kyle Anderson
24 Shabazz Napier Nik Stauskas
25 Clint Capela Langston Galloway
26 P. J. Hairston Dante Exum
27 Bogdan Bogdanović Maxi Kleber
28 C. J. Wilcox JaMychal Green
29 Josh Huestis Shabazz Napier
30 Kyle Anderson Glenn Robinson 3

2015: Booking a new path

The 2015 NBA Draft was not only much better than 2014, but the Lakers were also picking higher, so this one was a lot more exciting. And you may think you know who the pick is, given that this blog is full of D’Angelo Russell apologists, but before anyone gives us crap for that, just remember that the guy most others wanted was Jahlil Okafor, who nearly fell out of the first round in this re-draft (we will ignore that that’s who I wanted in 2015. Like I said: I’m not qualified).

I ended up passing on Russell, though, and went with Devin Booker. Russell is a nice player, but Booker made his first All-Star game this year and has been on a consistent upward trajectory that has taken his stock a bit higher than Russell’s over the course of their careers. Plus, can you imagine Booker on this team with LeBron and Anthony Davis? Just ignore that he probably would have been traded by now.

In addition to Russell, Kristaps Porzingis also got some love from my staff, but I just don’t fully trust his injury history.

(As an aside: Wouldn’t it be awesome if actual GMs had to explain their picks publicly and candidly like this?)

This was also the only draft we re-did where the Lakers had a second pick in the first round, and this was a tough call. Larry Nance Jr., the Lakers’ actual pick here — and another Lakers’ scouts’ pick who went before his original slot — was already gone. We considered finally bringing Okafor to L.A., but ultimately went with Quinn Cook, because not only is he a solid piece and better fit for this team who we could have watched develop, but it also would have been fun to watch the lifelong Lakers fan grow up in Los Angeles and play with Kobe Bryant in his final season.

Here is the full order (You can go here to see which teams are picking):

2015 SB Nation Redraft

Original Pick NEW PICK
Original Pick NEW PICK
Karl-Anthony Towns Karl-Anthony Towns
D'Angelo Russell Devin Booker
Jahlil Okafor Kristaps Porzingis
Kristaps Porziņģis Myles Turner
Mario Hezonja D'Angelo Russell
Willie Cauley-Stein Kelly Oubre
Emmanuel Mudiay Josh Richardson
Stanley Johnson Montrezl Harrell
Frank Kaminsky Terry Rozier
Justise Winslow Justise Winslow
Myles Turner Larry Nance
Trey Lyles Christian Wood
Devin Booker Norman Powell
Cameron Payne Frank Kaminsky
Kelly Oubre Jr. Bobby Portis
Terry Rozier Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
Rashad Vaughn Royce O'Neale
Sam Dekker Kevon Looney
Jerian Grant Tyus Jones
Delon Wright Willie Cauley-Stein
Justin Anderson Cedi Osman
Bobby Portis Delon Wright
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson Richaun Holmes
Tyus Jones Pat Connaughton
Jarell Martin Trey Lyles
Nikola Milutinov# Willy Hernangómez
Larry Nance Jr. Quinn Cook
R. J. Hunter Jahlil Okafor
Chris McCullough T.J.McConnell
Kevon Looney Malcolm Miller

2016: Sticking with fan favorites

If we were going to go chalk on one player in this exercise, it almost had to be Brandon Ingram. A superlative scorer who has long shown promising tools that have finally started to get recognized as he blossoms in New Orleans, Ingram was a more than worthy second overall pick. I took some flack from some of my scouts (i.e. my writers) for not going with Pascal Siakam here, but in the end, as a now experienced GM who has been through two drafts, I’ve learned you’ve gotta go with the guys you believe in. Siakam is great, but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to go with Ingram one more time.

As another feather in the Lakers’ scouts’ caps, both Alex Caruso (undrafted) and Ivica Zubac (second-rounder) both went in the first round in this re-draft. These guys are pretty good at their jobs!

Here is the full order (You can go here to see which teams are picking):

2016 SB Nation Redraft

Original Pick NEW PICK
Original Pick NEW PICK
Ben Simmons Ben Simmons
Brandon Ingram Brandon Ingram
Jaylen Brown Jaylen Brown
Dragan Bender Pascal Siakam
Kris Dunn Jamal Murray
Buddy Hield Domantas Sabonis
Jamal Murray Buddy Hield
Marquese Chriss Malcolm Brogdon
Jakob Pöltl Caris LaVert
Thon Maker Dejounte Murray
Domantas Sabonis Malik Beasley
Taurean Prince Fred VanVleet
Georgios Papagiannis Ivica Zubac
Denzel Valentine Dorian Finney-Smith
Juan Hernangómez Jakob Pöltl
Guerschon Yabusele Cheick Diallo
Wade Baldwin Furkan Korkmaz
Henry Ellenson Alex Caruso
Malik Beasley Taurean Prince
Caris LeVert Kris Dunn
DeAndre' Bembry Danuel House
Malachi Richardson Bryn Forbes
Ante Žižić Juan Hernangómez
Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot Yogi Ferrell
Brice Johnson Derrick Jones Jr.
Furkan Korkmaz Jake Layman
Pascal Siakam+ Skal Labissière
Skal Labissière Patrick McCaw
Dejounte Murray Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot
Damian Jones Marquese Chriss

Overall, the likelihood is that most of these guys would have been traded for Anthony Davis or to free up the cap space to sign LeBron anyway. Still, it was fun to take a look back at these drafts, and we hope you enjoyed this little exercise as much as we did.

Agree with our picks? Disagree? Let us know in the comments below. And for more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.

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