Los Angeles Lakers NBA Mock Draft 2020: Prospects to Target

Draft History

Los Angeles LakersThe Los Angeles Lakers drafted quality players this past decade. The problem is that none of these players are currently on the Lakers roster. Between the years 2010-2013, the Los Angeles Lakers had no first-round picks let alone a pick in the top 40. Because of this, the Lakers struggled to produce viable young talent with guys like Darius Morris and Robert Sacre being the “highlights” of this period.

Things changed in 2014 when the Lakers used their first first-round draft pick, since 2009, to draft Julius Randle. The next season, the Lakers built upon their success with Randle by drafting all-star point guard D’Angelo Russell and quality role-player Larry Nance Jr. The trend continued in 2016 with the Lakers drafting current NBA starters Lonzo Ball and Ivica Zubac in the first round. Lastly, the Lakers drafted developing prospects Moritz Wagner and Mykhailiuk Sviatoslav in 2018, both of which have shown potential.

Again, what’s discouraging for the future of this organization is that none of these picks are currently playing for the Lakers. D’Angelo Russell was traded to get rid of Timofey Mozgov’s contract, Lonzo Ball was packaged in a trade for Anthony Davis, Larry Nance Jr. was traded for Isaiah Thomas, Ivica Zubac was traded for Mike Muscala, and Julius Randle signed with the New York Knicks.

These trades may give the Lakers a championship but at the cost of future decades-long success. Without the young talent to surround Anthony Davis and an aging Lebron James, the Lakers are forced to build their team through free agency, a formula that has hurt them in the past. If the Lakers want to ensure long-term success, they have to hit on their late first-round picks. This has to start with the 2020 draft.

Team Breakdown

The Los Angeles Lakers currently have Lebron James playing the de-facto point guard, Avery Bradley and Danny Green playing the perimeter, and Anthony Davis and Javale McGee playing the in the frontcourt. Their bench unit consists of Rajon Rondo, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, Markieff Morris, and Dwight Howard. While this current roster configuration is championship-worthy, there aren’t a lot of long-term players. James, Green, McGee, Howard, Rondo, and Morris are over 30, and Bradley is set to join that group in November.

Second, Lebron James is the only player on this roster under contract past the 2020-2021 season (player option $41 mil). While Anthony Davis is surely in the team’s long-term plans, the team is expected to move past their veteran placeholders. But who do they have to lean on? They lack the draft capital or valuable trade assets which means they have to turn to free agency. The problem is that they don’t have the cap space to improve their team beyond veteran minimum contracts.

Given their scenario, I would love for the Lakers to go for a point guard. While Lebron James is the de-facto point guard, playing the position while expending his energy level is just not realistic given his age. Instead, the Lakers need to find that ball-handling point guard to occasionally carry the playmaking role. Some may argue that since Davis likes to play power forward, the Lakers should target a center. I disagree. The league has an abundance of quality centers to play a JaVale McGee-type role. Quality point guards are much harder to come across and often ask for more money in free agency. It’s best to address this need with a draft pick that provides long-term security on a rookie contract.

Draft Range

The Lakers are expected to have the 29th pick. I also don’t expect the Lakers to trade up given their lack of tradable assets. This late first-round pick takes them out of the running for elite point guard prospects like Killian Hayes or LaMelo Ball. However, the draft is full of talented point guards, that while not as polished, show the potential to be starting-caliber playmaking point guards. Also, the Lakers have no second-round pick. If I’m the Lakers, I’m looking for a guard with great vision, shooting ability, and basketball IQ. At their draft position, a few guys fit this role.

Prospects to Target

Given the Lakers dire need to inject quality youth into their organization, the Lakers have to hit on their only pick in 2020. For this reason, I’m limiting prospects to mainly point guards, what I see as their biggest need. Also, I won’t include projected lottery picks given the Lakers are projected to have the 29th pick. Instead, I’ll feature prospects within the range of 25-35.

Tyrell Terry

PG 6-3 175 Lbs – Stanford

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14.64.53.21.4.1.441.408.8912.6

Tyrell Terry is a jack-of-all-trades type of player that the Lakers should value. At Stanford, Terry was a versatile shooter consistently hitting off-dribble, off-movement, and spot-up jump shots. He hit an impressive 40 percent from three and 89 percent from the free-throw line. With such a high free-throw percentage, I am confident his shot will only improve.

Terry also excelled in transition showing great decision-making skills to go along with his speed. While he didn’t get to the basket often at Stanford he has a crisp touch at the rim. Moreover, Terry is a capable passer. While his assist rate was low (3.2 per game), he always made the right read and hit his man in stride. I’m confident he can make plays at the next level.

My only concern is his size. At 175 pounds, Terry needs to quickly add weight to boost his offensive potential. If he can get to 190 pounds like Steph Curry and Kyrie Irving, Terry will have an easier time attacking the basket. Also, he’s currently a liability on defense. If he gets stronger, bigger guards will have trouble posting him up. But for now, Terry can contribute as a bench spark which is what the Lakers need.

Again, the point guard position was a weakness for the Lakers throughout the 2019 season. Rajon Rondo, while a great playmaking, couldn’t consistently hit mid-range or three-point shots. In addition, Lebron James is not a great perimeter shooter. Also, guys like Danny Green and Avery Bradley are catch and shoot players instead of shot creators. Having a point guard who can create their own shot like Terry will bring another offensive dimension to this team.

Devon Dotson

PG 6-2 180 Lbs – Kansas

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18.14.14.02.1.1.468.309.8302.4

Devon Dotson could be the elite bench player the Lakers are looking for right now. Dotson’s biggest strength is his quickness and athleticism which showed in his ability to get to the rim. No other Lakers guard could do this consistently which boosts Dotsons value for this team. Moreover, he’s very strong despite his weight. At 180 pounds, you wouldn’t expect Dotson to thrive in contact. However, he reminds me of Trae Young in his ability to draw fouls due to his quick handle, hang time, and good body control.

Furthermore, Dotson is a reliable free throw shooter (83%) which leads me to believe that he will overcome his 31% three-point percentage at Kansas. On top of this, Dotson is a quality passer. Even though he averaged only 4.0 assist per game, he showed potential in pick and roll situations as well as quality transition passing. All things considered, he will make all the right plays for the Lakers.

Lastly, Dotson is a good defender. He puts a lot of pressure on the ball with an in your face approach to defense. He averaged 2.1 steals per game at Kansas and understands how to anticipate passing lanes. With his quickness, he can become a deadly transition threat. This part of his game will seamlessly translate into the NBA.

https://twitter.com/Frankie_Vision/status/1273347928623636480

Cassius Winston

PG 6-1 185 Lbs – Michigan St.

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18.62.55.91.20.0.448.432.8523.2

The Lakers are in win-now this season and in 2021. Cassius Winston, a senior from Michigan St., can definitely contribute to the Laker’s success in 2021. He’s a senior meaning that he brings a bit more experience and polished game to the table. He shot a spectacular .432 percent from three and averaged six assists. He has that playmaking instinct and ability, especially in the pick and roll, and is surprisingly strong for his weight.

I also love his intangibles. He was a vocal leader at Michigan lauded by Tom Izzo for his work ethic and general approach to the game. Winston’s mature approach should fit well with the Lakers veterans and star-players who will want a more refined rookie. Winston doesn’t have a high ceiling due to his defensive struggles and lacks of athleticism to get to the rim. However, you are getting a savvy, high-IQ player that will get mesh well with an intelligent roster. Winston may be a reach, most draft analysts project him as a mid-2nd round pick, but teams like the Laker’s have specific needs and could afford to be pickier.

Predictions

The Lakers are in a difficult spot due to the lack of young talent within their roster. However, the team is in win-now mode. Lebron loves to play with veterans that understand the game and won’t make rookie mistakes. I can see why the Lakers went in the direction they have gone. However, their championship window could start to close after next season, meaning they have to find viable young talent to ease the transition.

Further hurting their situation is that the Lakers only have 1 draft pick, the projected 29th pick. The Lakers essentially have to get this right and should, therefore, play conservative, getting a high floor, low ceiling prospect that can contribute to their championship runs and be a piece for the future. This is directly contrary to other playoff teams like the Celtics who have so much young talent, that they can risk a pick on a boom or bust prospect. Second, the Laker’s biggest positional need is at the point guard position. They lack the depth at point guard outside of Rondo, forcing Lebron to be the de-facto point guard. Getting a high-floor, prototypical point guard that can shoot and provide leadership can solve the Laker’s greatest deficiency.

I see Cassius Winston, Tyrell Terry, and Devon Dotson as potential answers. All have high basketball IQ, can shoot the ball, and make plays when needed. However, I think Dotson stands above the rest. He’s an elite athlete whose only knock is average shot. However, he’s a good free-throw shooter which makes me believe he will become an above-average shooter. James and other veterans will love his fervor, tenacity, and leadership while fans will appreciate the show he puts on in the Staples Center.

  
Miles Jasper is an incoming law student studying employment and labor law. Miles’ passions lie within the salary cap, collective bargaining, and labor relations between leagues and their players. He also likes to analyze college prospects and participate in fantasy sports. In his free time, Miles is an avid runner who also enjoys poker, cooking, and watching movies.

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