It seems the consensus of sending Jahlil Okafor to the Los Angeles Lakers with the second overall pick is broken, and there are those suggesting that it’s going to be D’Angelo Russell instead.
Sheridan Hoops are reporting that the majority of the Lakers front office prefers taking the Ohio State point guard to the Duke big man, despite Okafor and Karl-Anthony Towns appearing as the 1-2 picks in this draft for quite a while on the various mocks.
But why does it make sense? It does when you consider the Lakers need a point guard (Clarkson isn’t a point guard, and he might be moved in a trade for DeMarcus Cousins) and they’re also going after a big an in free agency: Kevin Love or LaMarcus Aldridge. Pairing that potential signing up with Julius Randle makes sense. Add Okafor on top of that? Perhaps adding a guard is better.
While earlier in the draft process there seemed to be some question on who is the top point guard in this draft, Russell or Mudiay, things have changed in favor of Russell, who seemed like a guaranteed top 4 pick, with Porzingis crashing into the top of the draft in the last two weeks, if the sources and rumors are to be believed.
Obviously, it would have been easier for the Lakers had the draft been a bit later. If they complete a move for Cousins, it depends on whether they use Randle as part of the trade or not. Okafor and Cousins doesn’t make a lot of sense as both players hover around the same areas.
Russell simply answers more needs for the Lakers, who are entering the final year of the Kobe Bryant era (or so they believe) and have a chance of putting together a backcourt that could do very well together for a very long time.