During the NBA’s (National Basketball Association) draft pick lottery, the Los Angeles (L.A.) Lakers were left with a draft pick of number two, and after a previous season that went less than well, especially after Steve Nash retired and Kobe Bryant rumors claimed his plan to, they need to pick a player who can be an MVP (most valuable player) and bring the team to victory. With two top choices of players for the NBA draft, Anthony Towns from Kentucky and Jahlil Okafor from Duke, sports enthusiasts believe that the Lakers will take whoever is not picked by the first draft pick, the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Lakers believe that this is great fortune for them as they will have the opportunity to rebuild and utilize a more forward-thinking approach. Though Bryant has not retired yet, general manager Mitch Kupchak and coach Byron Scott are not going to let the court get cold, before figuring out how to build a team that can make it to the NBA Playoffs, to claim the championship that Nash and Bryant so desperately wanted last season.
A player, whether they won the top vote for MVP or not, who could be one of the best players of the regular season and who could work well with the already established team of the L.A. Lakers, would be in the best interest of all those who run the team, when picking their NBA draft pick. The choice between Towns and Okafor is not necessarily one that will be made by the Lakers, as the Timberwolves get first say, but the question is would either player fit the bill? With Okafor being the number two player choice in the NBA draft pick, according to sources, it is most likely that he will get the pick by the Lakers. The Bleacher Report says that his size, skill, and scoring ability make Okafor a potential great fit for the team. However, they list the cons as his defense and athleticism, among others.
With many previous MVP’s being selected from the L.A. Lakers team, including Bryant in 2007-2008 (Nash was an MVP for two years but only when on the Phoenix Suns team), the NBA draft pick by the L.A. Lakers for 2015 could lead to another MVP selection by the NBA; if not immediately, perhaps in the future. However, the most critical thing for the team at this point would be just being able to gain a valuable player who can work well with the team, work well as an individual player to help with scoring, and possibly avoid injury, as the L.A. Lakers team members often see large bouts of the season where they must sit out due to such.
In addition, the L.A. Lakers need to be wise about their NBA draft pick because of the two major members who they must now replace. Nash officially retired after last season put him out for injury, only to later be decided that his injuries needed to keep him out permanently. Sources say Nash was happy to retire, though he loved the game, as he has now moved on to another chapter in his life and is considering his other options that involve a career that still, in some way, instills basketball. GM Kupchak announced that the 2015-2016 could be the last one for Bryant. Though Bryant has not officially or publicly stated that he plans to retire, talk is that it is in the works. Kupchak claims that Bryant’s injuries, which cause him pain and problems, may be the factor that leads him to retire after this season. Using the hashtag #nadanew, Bryant keeps posting on social media that he has not made any new decisions about whether or not he will retire, despite the media pressuring him.
With Nash retired, Bryant possibly planning to retire, and previously harsh seasons under their belt, the L.A. Lakers need to pick an MVP who can help their team make it to victory in at least one of the upcoming years, and with a rise to number two after the NBA draft pick lottery, they will have the chance to do just that. After the draft pick lottery left the L.A. Lakers with the number two pick, Bryant was sure to mention in an interview that his only advice to Kupchak was not to screw up the NBA draft and “pick a player that sucks.” With the NBA draft pick being just a little over one month away, on June 25, the Lakers have some time to decide what they will do to form a winning team with the number two draft pick, and their others that follow.
By Crystal Boulware
USA Today: Next season could be Kobe Bryant’s last with Lakers
Slam Online: Kobe Bryant on Lakers’ Draft: ‘Don’t Pick a Player That Sucks’
Bleacher Report: Pros and Cons of Jahlil Okafor for Los Angeles Lakers for the 2015 NBA Draft
Bleacher Report: How Los Angeles Lakers’ Future Changes with the No. 2 Pick in 2015 NBA Draft