Latest Lakers Mock Draft Selection Shows ‘Shades of Myles Turner’

Kel'el Ware

Getty Kel'el Ware defends the paint for the Indiana Hoosiers.

With the No. 17 pick in the 2024 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers are hoping to select a player who can help them win now, taking advantage of the twilight of LeBron James‘ career. The latest mock draft from Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer points towards Indiana Sophomore center Kel’el Ware, who O’Connor says shows “shades of Myles Turner“.

The Lakers need a player who can compete for minutes right away, and if they’re going to succeed, that player will need to both defend in the paint and stretch the floor. Anthony Davis is a superstar at the center spot, making first-team All-Defense and second-team All-NBA, but they need a player who can both complement Davis on the court and provide solid minutes while he sits.

Who is Kel’el Ware?

Ware is a two-time high school state champion, playing for North Little Rock High School in Arkansas. As a senior he put up gaudy averages of 20.3 points, 12 rebounds and 5.7 blocks, earning him an offer to play at the University of Oregon.

After playing just 15.8 minutes per game for the Oregon Ducks as a freshman, Ware moved to become the starting center for a Hoosier team that went a respectable 19-14 under coach Mike Woodson.

College numbers don’t always translate to NBA success, but the 6-foot-11 Ware did a solid job for Indiana in 2023-24, averaging 15.9 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks while shooting a robust 42.5% from the 3-point line (albeit on just 1.3 attempts per game).

A promising finish to the season elevated Ware’s draft stock, as he raised his averages to 19 points, 11.8 rebounds and 2.8 blocks over his last nine games of the season.

The Turner comparison feels more like wishful thinking as opposed to a legitimate possibility, as Turner was a much better shot blocker in his one college season (2.6 blocks per game) and has led the NBA twice in blocks per game.

How Would Kel’el Ware Fit on the Lakers?

The only certainties in life are death, taxes and LeBron recruiting 3-point shooters to help spread the floor. On offense, Ware could provide depth at both the center and power forward spot, providing a Rui Hachimura-like 3-point threat that Christian Wood cannot. Defensively, Ware could fill the paint with Davis on the bench, or alongside Davis, Ware and Davis could create a two-headed anchor that could rival any opposition.

One would hope LeBron and Davis could help Ware shake some of the negatives from his scouting report. O’Connor notes that “Effort and focus have wavered going back to high school. He’ll disappear for an entire half. His desire to box out and play with physicality is a notable concern, and he’s been bullied by players of a comparable size to him.”

A key decision that will affect the drafting of Ware is whether D’Angelo Russell decides to stay with the Lakers. If Russell stays, that soaks up $18.6 million of cap space, making it less likely the Lakers could scour the center-deficient free agent market to bring in a difference maker. Bobby Marks of pointed out that if Russell leaves, the Lakers would have access to their $12.9 million midlevel exception.

There have been plenty of talks about the Lakers packaging the No. 17 pick to either move up in the draft or trade for a veteran. Similar to the Turner comparison, it feels improbable given the lack of assets the Lakers currently have.


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