The reports surrounding the Lakers and Thursday’s NBA draft have largely centered on Oregon’s Chris Duarte and their desire to move up for him. However, that may not be the only player the team has eyes for in the first round.
The Lakers’ search for a center last season never netted truly positive results, including a disappointing half-season from Andre Drummond. A search in the draft, though, could net different results. According to Brad Turner of LA Times, the Lakers are high on center prospect Isaiah Jackson out of Kentucky:
Several NBA scouts said the Lakers really like Isaiah Jackson, a 6-foot-10 forward-center out of Kentucky. But the scouts said Jackson is projected to go before the Lakers pick, perhaps as high as No. 14 to the Golden State Warriors.
Last season at Kentucky, Jackson averaged 8.4 points per game on 54.0% field goal shooting, in addition 6.6 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game. His athleticism was one of his biggest strengths, showcased by his eight blocks against Kansas and his seven blocks against Alabama during the season.
Jackson is a raw player that would require development, but he also could produce in a specific role for the Lakers. Like the team's success with Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee, Jackson could be an above-the-rim player offensively and a rim protector defensively. Even Damian Jones, a player who received multiple 10-day contracts, excelled in that role.
However, as Haynes notes, the Lakers would need to trade to move up to get Jackson, who is expected to be selected in the middle of the draft, ahead of L.A.’s No. 22 pick. Finding a trade partner might not happen until draft night as the picks unfold.
But if the Lakers do land Jackson on Thursday, he is the type of player they could have success with and would have under team control for many years to come.