The Los Angeles Lakers did something that made most of the NBA world cringe at the 2019 Draft Lottery last Tuesday. Jumping seven spots, the Lakers organization landed the No. 4 pick for the impending June 20 NBA Draft.
The Lakers entered Tuesday’s draft lottery with a 2 percent chance of getting the No. 1 overall pick and a 9.4 percent chance of getting inside the top four picks. The Lakers had one thing on their side that the other 29 NBA franchises didn’t have — Kyle Kuzma. The New Orleans Pelicans wound up getting the No. 1 overall pick, who will most likely be none-other-than Duke freshman Zion Williamson, while the Lakers made a surprising jump and secured the No. 4 overall pick.
“We had scouting meetings with (Director of Scouting and Assistant GM) Jesse Buss and our scouts, and of course our focus was more around 11, because that’s where the huge probability was resting,” said Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka in an interview with Lakers Reporter Mike Trudell. “But now it shifts, what we can get at four. I will tell you there are some incredibly talented, impact players there that we’re going to study deeply. And then of course we’ll canvas the league and see what value that pick has. But either of those options is an extraordinary win for the franchise… I already talked to Jeanie Buss and she is just thrilled. I think it should really be exciting for our fans. It’s an unexpected event for the Lakers and we’re certainly really blessed.”
The projected top three picks will be a variation of Williamson, Ja Morant (Murray State) and R.J. Barrett (Duke). With that being said, the Lakers should have their eyes on Texas Tech sophomore shooting guard Jarrett Culver who has the ability to score at will and has elite defensive abilities that should translate into a great defensive stopper.
National Champion, sophomore forward De’Andre Hunter of Virginia is another option at the No. 4 spot. The 6-foot-7 forward adds immediate versatility to whatever organization drafts him with his 7-foot-2 wingspan that makes him a gaudy defender and a low post presence that can pop out around the perimeter and knock down long-range shots. Vanderbilt freshman guard Darius Garland seems to be flying on the storied franchise’s radar after tearing his meniscus five games into his NCAA college career. The 6-foot-3 heady guard is an excellent shooter, with the ability to command and control the offense with ease either off the fast break or in half-court situations.
It should be exciting to see who the Lakers draft or if they use the draft pick as trade bait to acquire another superstar to play along LeBron James. The NBA Draft will be held on Thursday, June 20, and until then, we will have to see where this whirlwind takes the Lakers.