With the 2014 NBA draft officially in the books, the Los Angeles Lakers have officially come out as one of the big winners in this year’s draft. The Lakers had one of the biggest steals of the draft when Julius Randle (Kentucky) fell to them at the seventh pick, while he was projected as high as the third pick just a month ago. The icing on the cake came when the Lakers do what they do best and purchased the 46th pick from the Washington Wizards where they chose Jordan Clarkson, a guard with great size, athleticism, speed, and leaping ability. Clarkson, from the Missouri Tigers, may be one of the surprises of the 2014 draft when we look back in a few years.
The Lakers were dead last in the league in rebounding differential last season (giving up over 8 rebounds per game) and desperately needed to acquire a tenacious rebounder that can play with toughness, intensity and heart. They drafted this with Julius Randle who averaged over 10.0 rebounds per game at Kentucky.
Randle’s presence in the paint during the NCAA tourney helped lead the team to the Championship game. A workout warrior known for his tenacity on the offensive side of the ball, is the low post presence the team has been seeking. Randle will be the projected starter at the Power Forward and will provide the Lakers a much-needed offensive threat in the paint every time he touches the ball. I also love that he feels snubbed that NBA teams passed him over in the draft and arrives with a nasty chip on his shoulder.
Randle is probably the most NBA ready guy in the draft; he can come in day one and start for the Lakers with his strength and dominant physical play in the paint. Randle will, however, need to work on his defense and develop a strong mid range jump shot to excel at the top level in the NBA. Mitch Kupchak knows that the path to the playoffs run through teams that can control the boards and Randle was a steal of the draft at the seven pick.
The Lakers pulled off a surprise in the second round when they purchased the 46th pick from the Washington Wizards and selected Jordan Clarkson. Clarkson is a combo guard out of Missouri who has a 6-foot-8 wingspan and registered a 38.5-inch vertical leap at the NBA Draft Combine. He is offensive-minded and has the versatility to play either guard position, boasting impressive size and athleticism that had the potential to be a late first round pick.
Clarkson will need to improve his ball handling and decision making skills to earn significant minutes with the Lakers, but given his great work ethic, he could end up being the next Brandon Knight. This Missouri standout can thrive at the next level with his well-rounded play and ability to score anywhere on the court.
The Lakers got the starting power forward who can dominate the boards and added a lethal combo guard who can play the point or back up to Kobe at the 2 position. With the best draft in over a decade, the Lakers can now turn their attention to the free agent signing period and lining up a championship coach.