L.A.

Lakers must draft the next franchise cornerstone player

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Reed Saxon

The 2015 NBA draft is less than two weeks away, and there is still much mystery surrounding what the Los Angeles Lakers will do with their second overall pick.

Early indications point to the Lakers either taking Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns or Duke’s Jahlil Okafor. Other possibilities at that selection are Ohio State guard D’Angelo Russell or Emmanuel Mudiay, who played professionally last season in China. Another name that is quickly rising up draft boards is Kristaps Porzingis, who is a power forward that played Baloncesto Sevilla at the Liga ACB last season.

Although the list of prospects for that pick is small there is no certainty at this point in time which player they will take. However, what is certain is that Los Angeles is not looking to take a player that fits best with Kobe Bryant, but rather that team can build around following Bryant’s eventual retirement.

Via LA Daily News’ Mark Medina:

“We’re not going to pick a player because he can play with Kobe, likes Kobe or dislikes Kobe,” Kupchak told Los Angeles News Group. “We’re going to pick the player that can have the longest and best career.”

With Bryant entering his 20th season in the league, and the last year of his two-year, $48.5 million contract it is no better time than now for the Lakers to find someone who can carry the torch once the 17-time All-Star retires.

This has been the case for the last handful of seasons beginning with the trade for Dwight Howard two years ago and pursuit of Carmelo Anthony in free agency last offseason, but each of those scenarios has ended in much disappointment for the franchise.

That said, Los Angeles has a prime opportunity in front of them to snag a player in the upcoming draft that they can build around for the foreseeable future. What is even more promising than that is whoever they pick along with their current young core of Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle could be appeasing enough to convince a couple of top quality free agents to sign with the team this summer.

What lies ahead of the Lakers this offseason has the chance to be what can ultimately turn this franchise around after the two worst regular seasons in franchise history. This all must start with making the right decision in the draft by taking the player that they truly believe can be the team’s long-term answer.

Their current situation is a scenario that comes along so often with the Lakers possessing both a top-two draft pick and a significant amount of salary space that can help change the direction of the franchise in a hurry. This clearly puts more importance on how the organization goes about the draft because another unfruitful offseason could lead to another disastrous season.

All in all, the Lakers have a prime opportunity to take a huge step in the right direction in their goal of returning the franchise to prominence in the NBA, and it will all begin on draft night on June 25.

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Bob Garcia IV

Bob Garcia IV is a sports journalist from Southern California. He's currently the Los Angeles Lakers beat writer for Sports Out West. He was previously the beat writer for LA Rams Report for Scout.com, which is a website dedicated to covering the Rams. Lastly, he was a reporter for the award-winning newspaper, The Daily Sundial, at California State University, Northridge. You can follow him on Twitter, @BGarcia90.
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