The genius coaching of Byron Scott has led another team to a high draft pick. The Los Angeles Lakers will be the second team picking in the 2015 NBA draft, which means taking one of the two big men the Minnesota Timberwolves don’t choose: Jahlil Okafor or Karl-Anthony Towns.
It’s that simple? Probably. It’s hard to find a mock draft that doesn’t put the two big men as the 1-2 combo we’re going to see. Towns is the favorite to land as the number one overall pick. Why? That’s just the buzz coming from the scouts and GM offices, who see him as a better overall prospect, especially on defense, and the guy with the better chances to be relevant and dominant for longer in the league.
But what about Okafor? Wasn’t he the “chosen one” of last year’s freshman class? Well, he started out that way, but deficiencies in his ability to defend (not something that cant be improved) and maybe a little tendency to bloat up, although his current slimmer physique is how NBA teams would like to see him enter the league. Offensively, at least right now, Okafor seems like the more NBA-ready player, or in the most plain term possible, he’ll be scoring more points next season than Towns.
Whoever it is, the Lakers have a nice young group of players to start thinking about as their future core, even though their enthusiasm over Jordan Clarkson, a player who is not a point guard in his essence and might have been putting up big numbers because of very favorable conditions is a bit out of place. It’s hard growing trees in the shade of the great Kobe Bryant, as the trio of Clarkson (who pretty much plays the same position as Bryant), Julius Randle and Okafor/Towns will find out.
Wouldn’t it be better for the Lakers to take a point guard like D’Angelo Russell out of Ohio State or Emmanuel Mudiay who played basketball in China instead of going to college? The NBA’s general manager book about draft picks tells them to always go for the big man who seems like the sure thing. Both Russell and Mudiay are risks at the moment. Okafor and Towns? Not as much. The prospect of landing flat on your face by making an unconventional pick is just too scary for a team that isn’t known for its patience and desire in a long, maybe healthier rebuilding process, which won’t be completed anyway until Kobe Bryant isn’t on the team anymore.