The Lakers have the No. 2 overall pick in the June 25 NBA Draft, which means that either Jahlil Okafor or Karl-Anthony Towns will be there for them, depending on which of the two big men Minnesota selects.
But could L.A. go in another direction?
The Lakers have needs almost everywhere, so taking the player they believe to be the best available, regardless of position, would seem to be the most sense. While conventional wisdom would favor them going with Towns or Okafor, a long-term solution at point guard might also be appealing — and one somewhat mysterious prospect just completed a second individual workout in Los Angeles.
The Lakers made progress on that front on Thursday by hosting point guard Emmanuel Mudiay for his second pre-draft workout at the team’s practice facility in El Segundo. The Lakers hope to do the same with Duke center Jahlil Okafor and Ohio State point guard D’Angelo Russell. Mudiay’s individual workout was not open to the media, and the Lakers will follow the same course presuming Okafor and Russell work out again. The Lakers will have open workouts, however, for prospects they will consider with their 27th and 34th picks on Friday.
The Lakers also hosted a private workout on Monday for Kristaps Porzingis and are hoping for a workout for Kentucky center Karl-Anthony Towns. But that might not happen since Minnesota is expected to select Towns with the No. 1 pick.
Mudiay has worked out plenty recently in Los Angeles in which he has offered both glimpses of his athleticism and speed and uncertainty regarding his shooting. Mudiay appeared streaky with his outside shooting both in an individual workout with the Lakers on June 6 and a private workout at an athletic club in Reseda on June 11. But in his private workout open to members of his agency, Rival Sports Group, and a handful of reporters, Mudiay showed more of his speed, dunking and athleticism that has intrigued NBA talent evaluators.
Mudiay or Russell may each turn out to be a fine choice, but with the No. 2 overall pick, the stakes are higher, and ending up with a star-level player is to be expected.
Now, the Lakers have proven to have the ability to evaluate talent at an above-average clip; remember, they bought a late second round pick last season and grabbed Jordan Clarkson, who ended up finishing as a first-team All-Rookie selection.
But there’s a difference between finding an overlooked gem like Clarkson, and sorting out who may be the best choice when having essentially the entire crop of draft-eligible players to choose from. Taking someone like Mudiay or Russell at two would seem to be a bit of a reach, especially with either Towns or Okafor still on the board.
But with multiple workouts in play, it would lead you to believe that the Lakers are at least considering that possibility.