While the Los Angeles Lakers defied the odds and made a jump up to fourth in the NBA Draft, the team still has an incredible amount of holes that it needs to fill before the start of the season. While the Lakers are likely to be one of the most active teams in free agency, is it possible that they move up and take another player in the first round?
Should the Lakers Trade for Another First Round Draft Pick?
If the Lakers are trying to move into the top half of the NBA Draft, they need to be careful not to move TOO high up as coupled with their existing fourth pick, the two salaries could put the Lakers out of contention for a few max-contract players.
However, if the Lakers are looking to find another player in the back half of the draft, it shouldn’t impact their ability to sign another star player and might allow them to fill some of the holes in their roster with better longterm cost controlled pieces. While the Lakers need to address their shooting and will likely do so with the fourth pick, grabbing another late first round pick could help them fill a need down low without having to pay a premium for one of the many available big men on the market.
With the LeBron James era on the verge of coming to an end after the 2020-21 season, the Lakers can afford to unload some of their future draft picks as they need to gear up to win in the next two or three years. Especially if they’re planning to improve dramatically and contend, they won’t find many immediate impact players available in the late 20s and can afford to move those picks for an option that they can bring in and develop immediately.
Who should the Los Angeles Lakers Target With A Second First NBA Round Pick?
We’ve already established that the Lakers are likely to grab a scorer with their first pick, meaning they would likely want to get a young and promising big man. Bruno Fernando is one option, projected to go off the board midway through the first round. The Lakers could afford to pair Fernando with the fourth pick and still sign someone like Kawhi Leonard in free agency. One of the most NBA-ready rebounders and a force patrolling the paint, Fernando should be able to step in and contribute big minutes from the jump.
Another, likely cheaper, option is LSU freshman Naz Reid. Expected to go off the board at the end of the first round, Reid could fill a few needs as the springy big man is also capable of stepping back and knocking down the deep ball. Reid has a fairly NBA-ready frame but seems like the type of player who may take a bit to adjust to the speed and skill at the NBA level. He could emerge into a second-half impact player before breaking out in his second or third year.
Daniel Gafford is in a similar range as Reid and as a result, shouldn’t impact the Lakers’ cap flexibility much. Gafford is a big, strong, and athletic bruiser who patrols the paint with ferocity. Gafford is an immediate impact big man who likely slips down draft boards a bit due to the fact that he is a sophomore. Looking to fit the mold of the defensive-minded, athletic rim-runner that was so effective in the Lakers’ scheme last season, Gafford could be a perfect fit.