NBA Draft night presented a quandary for the Lakers as they were set to make their selection with the No. 2 overall pick. It was a good problem to have obviously – two potential great players on your draft board. They elected to go with Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell, and as far as I’m concerned, it was the correct move.
Initially I had surmised that had the Lakers went in the direction of grabbing Jahlil Okafor, it would’ve been looked upon as the best and safest decision. When the lights shined the brightest during the prominent March Madness tournament, Okafor was an integral part of Duke capturing the national title.
Although he struggled in the final game against Wisconsin, he did come alive in the waning minutes of the final period to catapult his team to the victory. When analyzing how good he was, I often alluded to how his size, girth and incredible footwork would allow him to make a smooth transition to the NBA. And with the Lakers known for their Hall of Fame bigs, Okafor was poised to fit right in.
But gravitating toward this new way of thinking–pretty much predicated on how the game is played now–my stance has changed. I absolutely believe this was the perfect move, especially for a team devoid of any true floor general in a tough Western Conference that is loaded with talent at that position.
Jordan Clarkson proved to emerge as a great young talent for the Lakers in what was an abysmal season. His spot on the All-Rookie 1st team validates that he showed promise in his first season in purple and gold, but it would be premature to render such a verdict that calls him the Lakers point guard of the future. The jury is still out in that regard.
Russell brings the Lakers a different dynamic. He’s an individual who can consistently and relentless attack the basket while making sound decisions for himself and his teammates. His incredible passing ability, as illustrated by Sports Science, shows that he can have a legitimate impact on the NBA level.
The Lakers are hoping the promise emanating from Julius Randle, who was hurt all of last season, will come to fruition. And this combined with the continued emergence of Clarkson would be ideal. And if you really are a believer in the efficacy of the Lakers returning to relevancy, you can factor in Kobe Bryant returning to form.
This may be uncharted territory for Laker Nation. The fan base has customarily watched Bryant pair with a low post star to create a championship ready tandem. But Pau Gasol, Shaquille O’Neal and Andrew Bynum aren’t walking through that door.
In fact, D’Angelo Russell will be. And although he’s not a center, Russell gives Bryant something he’s never really had before in his illustrious career. And that’s the chance to play with an explosive point guard who has the potential to wreak havoc on opposing defenses.