2014 NBA Draft
The Importance of The Draft
The draft is nought but a gamble. A risk taken by selecting players to come help your team win. In the world of sports there are no gurantees. Especially when is comes to drafting players out of college. When looking at any player scouted or drafted there are or were questions about them. Some thought Kevin Durant was too skinny and would not be able to score in the NBA because he would get bullied by larger players. He has lead the league in total points scored the last four straight years. On the other hand many thought that Hasheem Thabeet would develop an offensive game and be a lockdown defender. He has not averaged more than five points in his NBA career and serves as a backup to the team's backups. It's all about selecting the right players. None can ever know for sure. The Lakers boast a depleted roster in need of some young talent to usher them into the new era sans Kobe Bryant. After dealing away multiple picks for Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, the Lakers won't be able to do some team building for some time through the draft. Lucky for them they kept their pick in a stacked 2014 draft. Nailing this pick means getting a potential All-Star player that can help carry the scoring load for Bryant and extend his title window a little longer. It also means having a very talented player for a little over a million dollars vesus paying millions of dollars for an aging veteran that may or may not contribute. Almost everyone gets overpaid in free agency. However, a drafted player with talented gets severly underpaid, meaning more money to assemble other talented players. These drafted talents are also under contract for two years plus a two year option, meaning the team can keep its cheap All-Star for up to four years before paying them more money. Also, if a team extends a qualifiying offer at the end of the fourth year they can keep that player as a resricted free agent, allowing the team to match the offer a player has gotten from another team. This means they can keep their potential All-Star for as many as eight years! That's half their career!
A Look At Some of the All-Time Laker Greats
What do Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Elgin Baylor, Eddie Jones, Jerry West, James Worthy, and Derek Fisher all have in common? Nope, it's not that they are all All-Stars. It's not that they are some of the best ever at their positions (which they are), it's that they were all drafted by the Lakers. Ok, Kobe was orignially going to Charlotte but the Lakers made a draft-day trade so we'll give him to them since he has only ever worn the purple and gold. These players were all drafted by the Lakers. The rings combined with these guys is more than most teams can boast. Now, they've had some great complimentary pieces like Pau Gasol, Kareem Abdul-Jabar, and Shaq but the mainstays that have lead the teams to victory were all drafted by the Lakers themselves. By looking at the past the Lakers need to realize that they cannot win in the future without planning for the future by drafting their players rather than acquiring them in free agency. Why get a 30-year-old Carmelo Anthony when the team can get someone with perhaps the same skill set for cheaper and keep them for eight-plus years. Instead they could pay 20-plus million dollars and keep Carmelo for three or four. History has shown that time and time again the Lakers greatest players were all draftedby the team. That cannot change now either. The Lakers have not drafted a player since 2007 and while they won two championships since then it was with a core of two players they drafted. Now, the team has a hobbled star in Kobe Bryant and no supporting cast. If they wish to win in the future they must draft young stars.
What To Do With the Seventh Pick?
There are many options when it comes to the Lakers seventh pick in the draft. However, there is only one true option if the team wishes to win in the future. Keep the pick and draft a player. There have been talks of the Lakers trading the pick for Klay Thompson, There have been talks of the Lakers trading the pick for another complimentary piece. One that might entice Carmelo Anthony to sign with the team. These are all wrong moves except for drafting a young star. Take for instance Julius Randle, whom many have pegged the Lakers taken at number seven overall. The guy is an animal and averaged a double-double in college with 15 points and 10 rebounds on a croweded Kentucky roster. He reminds me a lot of Zach Randolph and I can easily see him averaging those same college numbers in the NBA. I'm sure the Lakers would gladly take this, considering those numbers are what Pau Gasol has averaged the past few seasons. The only difference is that Randle would cost the Lakers a little over a million dollars while Gasol just completed the last year of his deal which paid him $19 million. A pretty big difference in salary, wouldn't you say? Who's to say Randle doesn't improve his offense game even further by averaging 20 points, or maybe developing a defensive presence.
What should the Lakers do with the 7th pick?
Free agency may build winners, but they are built on the backbone of draftees. Should the Lakers wish to win they need to be more conscious of the draft. Now, and in the future. While forgoing one or two years for that missing piece on the team is ok, they should by no means go six years without making a draft selection! Especially after this season when they will be without draft picks yet again. Should another major injury bug hit the Lakers they won't have their first-round pick to potentially bail them out. Imagine if they got the number one overall selection and had to give it away to Phoenix as part of the Steven Nash trade. What a slap in the face. Great teams can be created in free agency, but dynasties are made through the draft. The Lakers should remember that tonight when they are on the clock and in the future before dealing away multiple draft picks for aging players.