The Lakers' run in the playoffs has revealed that they are a team with a lot of depth and flexibility. While a number of players that comprise that depth are set for free agency, the Lakers have the ability to retain them all and keep that depth.
That depth will allow the Lakers some flexibility in the upcoming NBA Draft. Tuesday’s lottery cemented the entire order for the upcoming draft, though it didn’t change the Lakers picking No. 17 and No. 47.
The newest slate of mock drafts represents the flexibility the Lakers will have going into the draft. While the archetype of players was largely the same in that almost all have them taking a 3-and-D wing, the age, readiness to contribute in the NBA and position all varied.
Here’s a look at some of the notable mock drafts around the Web and who they have the Lakers selecting.
ESPN/DraftExpress - Jett Howard, Wing, Michigan
A common name that will be mocked to the Lakers a lot in the coming month. The son of Juwan Howard, Michigan head coach and friend of LeBron James, Jett is a scorer with a lot of upside as a 3-point shooter.
Here’s a portion of Jonathan Givony’s thoughts on the Lakers taking Howard:
Howard is one of the most prolific 3-point shooters in this class and also flashed impressive scoring versatility before injuries derailed his season. At 6-8, he can play either wing position and has upside to grow into multiple roles at just 19 years old.
The Ringer - Jordan Hawkins, Wing, UConn
Last time around, Hawkins was the common pick for the Lakers. It’s one that makes sense as he’s another 3-and-D wing prospect. He was one of the breakout players of UConn’s title run.
Here’s Kevin O’Connor’s thoughts on the Lakers making this pick:
Hawkins shined during Connecticut’s run to a championship with his exceptional movement shooting ability. Although his skinny frame limits his ability to drive to the basket, he’d thrive in an offense where that skill isn’t needed. The Lakers are a good example; they saw Danny Green thrive as a spot-up shooter during their 2020 title run and now have players, such as Austin Reaves and Lonnie Walker IV, who step up from game to game. Hawkins would give them another instant rotation player.
The Athletic - Hawkins
In this roundup of mock drafts, Hawkins is the only name to appear twice. He’s a sharpshooter and surrounding LeBron and Anthony Davis with shooting has been a successful strategy.
Here’s Sam Vecenie’s take on Hawkins to the Lakers:
What are the skills that work best with LeBron James? Shooting and defense. Hawkins and his tremendous ability to space the floor would be about as perfect a fit for the Lakers as you can imagine. The Lakers are contenders again after the moves they made at the deadline this year. Continuing to add players who work well with James is a sharp strategy.
Bleacher Report - Brice Sensabaugh, Wing, Ohio State
A different 3-and-D wing this time, one that’s more of a wing than Hawkins. At 6’6” and 235 pounds, Sensabaugh has a lot more to him and can step in and be a scorer immediately.
Here’s Jonathan Wasserman’s thoughts on the Lakers selecting Sensabaugh:
A 6’6”, 235-pound efficient, three-level shot-maker, Sensabaugh could be viewed as an NBA-ready scoring wing for a team’s second unit. He won’t offer much else, so landing with a team that strictly values his one-on-one game and shooting would be ideal.
SB Nation - Kris Murray, Wing, Missouri
Yet another wing, and this one even bigger than the last. Brother of Kings rookie Keegan Murray, Kris has a similar game as a big wing that can shoot threes. It shouldn’t take much more convincing than that as to why Kris makes sense for the Lakers.
Here’s Ricky O’Donnell on Murray to the Lakers:
Murray is the twin brother of Kings rookie Keegan Murray, and he enjoyed a similar breakout season at Iowa as his bro became a key starter on a playoff team in Sacramento. A 6’8, 220-pound forward, Murray can shoot threes with volume and defend slower wings. He seems a tad less athletic than his brother, and his shooting numbers dipped as the season went on, but he should be a safe bet to stick around the league for a while when every team needs big wings who can hit shots.
USA Today/For The Win - Nick Smith Jr., Wing, Arkansas
The last mock draft sees the Lakers take more of a project with their first round pick. Given their roster and the talent already available, they can afford to potentially draft a player that is more than a year away.
It’s risky, but if anyone has earned the benefit of the doubt, it’s the Lakers scouting department.
Here’s Bryan Kalbrosky’s take on the Lakers taking Smith:
Although he struggled to stay healthy and wasn’t particularly efficient during his one-and-done season at Arkansas, the upside for Smith is still very high.
With a clean slate free from injuries, it’s worth betting on his development that Smith could make a return to the player he was as a McDonald’s All-American and the No. 1 overall recruit coming out of high school.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.