NBA Draft Team Preview: Los Angeles Lakers
THE 2023 NBA Draft is set to take place later this month, with the next crop of potential superstars set to join the world’s most prestigious basketball league.
There is plenty of hype around the talent in the 2023 draft class thanks to a French phenom locked in as the number-one pick, and lots of depth later down the order. Needless to say, June 23 (AEST) will change the future of the league in a big way.
Rookie Me Central continues its NBA Draft Team Preview series, taking a look at each participating side’s draft hand and some potential options at each selection. The next side on the agenda are the Los Angeles Lakers, with the New York Knicks trading away all of their selections.
The Lakers had a rollercoaster 2022/23 season, starting the season 2-10 before storming home late in the fixture to make the play-in, before embarking on a remarkable playoff run in which they almost made the finals.
Heading into the draft with a pair of picks, the Lakers will be eager to add some young talent to a list that will eventually need to look past its dominant but aging superstars.
Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Malik Beasley (team option), Mo Bamba, Rui Hachimura (qualifying offer), Jarred Vanderbilt, Max Christie, Cole Swider (two-way contract), Scottie Pippen Jr., Shaquille Harrison
The Lakers are one of the biggest teams in all of sports, and will need to take into account the pressure that comes with that when selecting their youngsters. However, there are plenty of big game players in the class so there are a lot of options to choose from.
With pick 17, the Lakers will be looking to add some more spacing to compliment the likes of James and Davis, who dominate the team’s offensive structures.
One option on this front could be Jett Howard, who offers size and spacing at the wing position. Despite an injury-plagued final season with Michigan, Howard is one of the premier three-point shooters in this class, showing a deadly shot mechanic that often delivers laser-precise shots from long range. At six-foot-eight, he can play both the two and the three, and that positional versatility would be an ideal fit for Los Angeles.
If the Lakers wish to add a readymade NBA player given they are still in their championship window, pick 17 could be used to select Brice Sensabaugh out of Ohio State as a shooting guard. Having proven himself as a three-level scorer during his college career, Sensabaugh would slot into the Lakers’ bench lineup easily, and at six-foot-six, could be a tough matchup at times if playing in the backcourt. Despite playing just 24 minutes per game, Sensabaugh finished top 10 in scoring, showcasing how talented of an offensive player he is.
With the 47th pick, Los Angeles will likely look to boost its frontcourt stocks for the future. Tristan Vukcevic could be a nice fit, having impressed with his ability to knock down a shot from behind the arc despite standing a whopping seven-foot. Another option could be Mouhamed Gueye, who can play both the four and the five, and has shown the ability to score in a number of ways such as post-ups, transition finishes and the occasional jumpshot.
Despite having a star-studded roster and coming off a deep playoff run, the Lakers are still in a strong position from a draft perspective, and have a strong enough hand to add some quality young talent.