Yesterday was a pretty historic day for Lakers fans. We got to draft our number 2 pick, and Mitch Kupchak managed to shock everyone by selecting D’Angelo Russell. I am hearing a lot of complaints from my fans, but I am very happy with this decision.
If you take a look at my draft day prediction blog, you will actually see that I wanted the Lakers to consider Russell:
“Before we all jump on the Okafor bandwagon, I would like the Lakers to take a good look at D’Angelo Russell: a combo guard from Ohio State. Personally, I would love for the Lakers to acquire a young guard for Kobe to mentor and take over the team. I think it would be a great transition for Kobe to use his last months with the Lakers prepping his predecessor. Theoretically, Kobe could do this with Okafor, but Okafor is a big with a completely different game. Plus, Kobe tends to clash with our centers. ***Cough Cough*** “Shaq” ***Cough Cough*** “Howard.” Sensing a theme yet?
I think Russell could be a great addition, and the Lakers are in dire need of a quality point guard. Despite his faults, I believe the Lakers will end up with Okafor, but Russell is my dark horse pick.”
Therefore, my LakHer fans should not be too surprised by this decision. I did say that I thought we would pick Okafor, but to keep an eye out for Russell. I actually believe that Russell will be a better fit for the Lakers in the long run. Many analysts are actually predicting that Russell will be the best player in the draft. ESPN’s Statistical Plus/Minus (SPM) numbers
Additionally, a lot of people are complaining that we passed on a great center, and this franchise is known for great centers. I would like to counter that argument. There are 3 Lakers players statues outside of Staples Center: Kareem, Magic, and Jerry. Only one of those players is a center, and the other two are guards. The Lakers are known for having great players. Period. Magic defined Showtime, not Kareem. Between Kobe and Shaq, only one of them stuck around. The Lakers picking a point guard and not a center just shows that they are paying attention to what is happening in the league. Golden State just won the championship behind dynamic guards. Every great team in this era needs a great guard.
Also, Mitch made the point that he wasn’t convinced that Okafor would be a franchise player. I mentioned his deficiencies in my previous draft blog, so I can agree with his point. I am not convinced that Okafor will be great. Drafts are always gambles, so we can definitely revisit this topic at a later date.
Picking a point guard should also give Lakers fans great hope for the future. It has been reported that the Lakers wanted a point guard because Mitch is confident that we will score one of the free agent big men this summer (Marc Gasol, Aldridge, Love). There have been a lot of rumors flying that these players are looking at the Lakers with renewed interest, so stay tuned. I think we have put ourselves in a great position to lure one of them in with the starting line up of Russell and Randle.
Lastly, I know that there was a lot of speculation that the Lakers will trade Russell, but I am not buying it. I think Russell is here to stay, but that our 27th pick is a goner. We used that pick to draft Larry Nance Jr. but I do not think Kobe wants this guy around. Three years ago Larry stupidly tweeted this: “Gee I sure hope Kobe can keep his hands to himself in Denver this time. #rapist”
Everyone has his or her own opinions about that case, and I will certainly not be diving into it. That case happened over a decade ago. Needless to say though, I do not think Kobe and his ego are going to want this guy on the team. He did delete this tweet minutes after he was drafted, but I really do not think it matters. It will be a distraction, and will cause a feud before these two even meet.
Mitch has said from the beginning that he would trade at least one of these rookies, so I think Larry shouldn’t be making any plans to move it L.A. yet.
One final note about Russel, here is what he said after he was drafted, “I want [Kobe] to take me under his wing and gain every piece of knowledge I can possibly gain. That franchise isn’t used to losing, and I’m a winning player.” Thank you Russell for proving my point and proving that you are here to win and learn. I can tell I like you already.
I am not going to cover the other teams picks, since I find them to be irrelevant to the Lakers, but my Uncle Rick and cousin Aidan are Knicks fans and were very distraught yesterday by the selection, so I will discuss that one for them.
I am not sure about this pick. Kristaps Porzingis is a huge gamble. He is not NBA ready, but he has a lot of potential. Unfortunately for Phil Jackson this pick will either be praised for being the diamond in the rough, or he will be slaughtered for squelching the Knicks opportunity to rebuild in the draft.
The biggest problem for Phil, is that he selected this player because he fits the mold for the triangle offense. While the Lakers are evolving their game plan to stay relevant in this league, Phil is sticking with the triangle offense, no matter how many games the Knicks lose.
Analysts are pretty split on whether this was a good decision or not. Personally, I do not know how this will play out, but if I were Phil, I would not be gambling right now. He has lost favor with the Knicks fans, as it was obvious when the fans booed this decision, and now Carmelo Anthony is complaining about it. I know that Dolan gave him a huge contract, but he has been known in the past to fire employees. Phil should be careful. Knicks fans had high expectations for Phil to come in and turn this franchise around, but Phil only has bad deals and records to show for his time in New York.