By Flint Wheeler
The Los Angeles Lakers are hoping that the future of the franchise begins now after they drafted former Ohio State Buckeyes standout D’Angelo Russell as the second overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.
The selection was a surprise to many since the Lakers were expected to pick Duke center Jahlil Okafor which they say will be a safer decision for the struggling team.
Instead they took the risk and got themselves a guard which has a huge potential to be the face of the franchise in the coming years.
Russell only spent one season with Ohio State but had excellent averages of 19.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game.
“That franchise isn’t used to losing, and I’m a winning player,” Russell said of the Lakers in a report by the Associated Press.
The 19-year-old also spoke about working with five-time champion Lakers star Kobe Bryant.
“I’m really looking forward to him taking me under his wing, if possible, and really just feeding me the most knowledge he can,” Russell said according to the Associated Press.
Meanwhile, head coach Byron Scott already complimented Russell during his workouts with the Lakers ahead of the draft and believes he has the chance to be a superstar.
As guards slowly take over the league, Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said they did not select Russell because of the transition happening in the NBA.
But Russell believes otherwise and said about the Golden State Warriors, “I mean, who won the championship? They did. They put something together that was beautiful with just wings and guards. There was no size really on the floor, so I feel like it’s slowly been changing to a wing and guard league.”
The other two picks for Los Angeles are 27th overall pick forward Larry Nance Jr. from Wyoming and 34th overall pick Anthony Brown who is a California-native out of Stanford.
But who are the winners and the losers? Who are the teams who walked away with the best hauls? Who are the general managers who have some explaining to do? In the space below, I attempt to make sense of it all.
Minnesota selected Karl-Anthony Towns with the No. 1 pick. Towns is a franchise guy, and now the Timberwolves have two of those between Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Towns will benefit greatly from the tutelage of Kevin Garnett. And in a few years, Minnesota will be a team to reckon with.
Winner: Kevin Garnett
The Big Ticket made his NBA debut before Karl-Anthony Towns was born. Twenty years in the league. If that isn’t winning, I don’t know what is.
Boston tried exceptionally hard to get into the top 10, even reportedly offering four first-round picks to the Charlotte Hornets for the rights to No. 9 (Michael Jordan said no, and picked Frank Kaminsky). The Celtics took Terry Rozier with the No. 16 pick and created a logjam at point guard with Marcus Smart and Isaiah Thomas. Then they took R.J. Hunter with the No. 28 pick and created a logjam at shooting guard with Avery Bradley, James Young and Evan Turner. Puzzling draft for the Celtics.
Charlotte turned down multiple first-rounders from the Celtics to take Frank Kaminsky. We have all the laughter over here.
Love what New York did. Porzingis could be a superstar, and Jerian Grant is one of the most underrated players in the draft. Knicks fans did not like the selection of Porzingis. But his skill level and 7-foot-1 frame could make him an elite player. At No. 4, you take that.
No Grade: Clippers
After much speculation and anticipation regarding the Clippers buying into the 2015 NBA Draft in order to add some young talent, they were able to pull it off, trading cash considerations to the New Orleans Pelicans for the 56th overall pick. Dan Woike of the Orange County Register reports that the cost of the pick was about $600,000, which leaves them with about $2.4 million to use as cash considerations in trades before the amount resets on July 1st.
After acquiring the pick, the Clippers opted to have the Pelicans select Branden Dawson, giving them additional depth at the forward positions. Dawson, a 22, 6’7″ player from Michigan State, averaged 12 points and 9 rebounds in 30 minutes per game last season in what was his senior year. However, he’s not a great shooter, not making a single 3 in his collegiate career.