With the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery now officially in the books, the Los Angeles Lakers have a better idea of what their future may hold. While the top projected picks are expected to be Duke forward Zion Williamson and Murray State guard Ja Morant, there’s quite a bit of talent spread across the first round.
Even going beyond round one, multiple young players stand out as options in the second round as targets with legitimate upside. Unfortunately, the Lakers hold just one pick in the upcoming draft, but it’s a big one, as they’ll select near the top of the first round. On Tuesday night, it was revealed the team will select No. 4 overall after jumping up in the lottery.
We’re going to take a look at the latest mock draft for the Lakers which evaluates who the team could take with their selection.
Lakers First-Round Mock Draft Pick: RJ Barrett, SG/SF, Duke
The surprising jump up the NBA draft lottery leads to the Lakers now holding a chance to grab one of the top prospects on the board. It’s a huge win for the franchise and allows them to add an instant-impact player who’ll be able to help contribute during the 2019-20 season more than likely.
RJ Barrett is a home run pick in this spot, although there’s no guarantee he’ll be there. Assuming he is, I’d jump at the chance to add a player who’s ready to start at the NBA level immediately. Barrett could certainly be the No. 3 pick in the draft, but if not, the Lakers run to turn in their draft card with the former Duke star’s name on it.
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Barrett averaged 22.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists while shooting 45.4 percent from the field in his lone collegiate season. He also stepped up in impressive fashion when Zion Williamson went down with a knee injury at the end of the regular season.
Other names to watch if Lakers hold No. 4 pick: Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver, UNC’s Coby White
Lakers First-Round Mock Pick Alternate (Trade): PJ Washington, PF, Kentucky
To be clear, this would be a trade-back spot. The Lakers could stockpile a pick or two in order to make a push towards trading for Anthony Davis. In turn, they’d have a chance to select Kentucky Wildcats forward Washington a bit later in the first round, likely in the early teens.
There’s a realistic chance Barrett is off the board before the Lakers select, and if that proves to be the case, then Washington would be a nice addition here. During his second season at Kentucky, he increased his production across the board. He averaged 15.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.2 blocks per game.
Arguably the most impressive aspect was the fact that Washington is a great finisher around the rim and shot 52.2 percent from the field. He also knocked down 42.3 percent of his shots from beyond the arc, although he only attempted 2.2 per game.
While both LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma are capable of playing power forward, having a player like Washington who has the upside to grow into a force down low will go a long way. It not only helps the immediate outlook for the Lakers but also their longterm plans, as he could play alongside Davis (if Los Angeles were to strike a deal).