Culver City Observer -

Lakers Get No. 2 Lottery Pick


Jahlil Okafor

By Mitch Chortkoff

Sports Editor

When the Lakers moved up from their original No. 4 slot in the NBA draft lottery Tuesday to No. 2 Kobe Bryant made an observation.

'We played like crap this season so it's fitting that we moved up," he said.

There's no assurance the Lakers' good fortune will trigger a major rise in the standings but it's the best news they've heard in awhile.

Unless they decide otherwise the Lakers will get either Jahlil Okafor of Duke or Karl-Anthony Towns of Kentucky, the consensus top players eligible to be chosen.

Okafor, a 6-11 freshman forward is expected to be the No. 1 pick. The Minnesota Timberwolves have that spot.

The 6-11 Towns from Kentucky would give the Lakers a true center. Last season, after Pau Gasol left for Chicago as a free agent the Lakers moved Jordan Hill into that position.

Hill is a forward, not a center and the Lakers lacked an inside defensive presence as they went 21-61, the worst record in franchise history

If Minnesota doesn't trade the pick it could become the first team in NBA history to have two straight No. 1 picks on their roster. This season they had Andrew Wiggins, the Rookie of the Year.

Wiggins was drafted by Cleveland a year ago but was traded to Minnesota for Kevin Love.

The Lakers will be active in the free agent market this summer. Longtime broadcaster Stu Lantz thinks that represents their best chance to be more competitive next season.

"I'm for adding experienced NBA players," Lantz told me. "That's what the Lakers need. Few rookies can have the impact for a dramatic improvement that is required."

Lantz even said it might even be to the Lakers' benefit to trade the pick to get an experienced player or two.

Laker coach Byron Scott, who was the team's representative at the lottery drawing, was cautiously optimistic about the high draft pick.

'It's a beginning," he said.

The Philadelphia 76ers have the No. 3 spot and the New York Knicks are No. 4, a disappointment since they had the second worst record last season. Orlando is No. 5 and Sacramento is No. 6.

The NBA draft will be held on Thursday, June 25. It's in Brooklyn this season.


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