It’s been 2 weeks since the Los Angeles Lakers jumped up 7 places in the Draft Lottery, to land the number 4 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Since, there has been plenty of speculation on what the Lakers will do with the pick; will they use it to boost their offer for Anthony Davis? Will they look to trade it for Bradley Beal in a lesser offer? Will they use the pick to add another young asset to the roster?
“But now it shifts, what we can get at four. I will tell you there are some incredibly talented, impact players there that we’re going to study deeply. And then of course we’ll canvass the league and see what value that pick has. But either of those options is an extraordinary win for the franchise.”Rob Pelinka
Despite this year’s class being considered as a three-player draft, there are still some extremely talented, versatile players that the Lakers can select at number 4 come June 20. Below, we take a look at some of those options:
With the top-2 picks being a certain lock with Zion Williamson and Ja Morant, respectively, it is widely considered that the New York Knicks will select RJ Barrett, out of Duke, with the 3rd pick. This will probably be the most likely scenario, however this is the unpredictable Knicks that we are talking about.
The Lakers will surely be blessed if RJ Barrett is passed upon and is available for selection at number 4. Even though there is a surplus of forwards in Los Angeles, the Lakers have to take the best player available. Eyes have been locked on the forward, from Toronto, Ontario, for many years now. Barrett averaged 22.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 4.3 assists last season for the Blue Devils, on 45.4% shooting.
Despite not turning 19-years-old until the week of the draft, he does possess the size, length and frame for an NBA wing, standing at 6-foot-7 with a 6-10 wingspan, weighing 208 pounds. Used primarily on the wing, Barratt has evolved into a ball-handing guard also, where he can be a facilitator on the court. Through this he could be a solid option in the pick-and-roll and in isolation. Additionally, Barratt can use his strong frame to drive to the paint and finish, at times initiating contact to get to the free-throw line.
However, RJ Barratt did only shoot at 31% from 3-point land during his time at Duke, converting at just 67% from the free-throw line. Many question his unnatural shooting stroke which may be the cause of his shooting woes.
The 19-year-old out of Vanderbilt signed to Klutch Sports back in February, the same agency that represents LeBron James, of whom Garland hosts a strong relationship with already. That’s it, the Lakers are drafting Garland, end of story. Right?
All jokes and the LeBron-link aside, Garland does look like a legitimate option at number 4. The point guard from Indiana is a high-level pull-up shooter, who is a serious threat from range. This can be in a variety of situations too; in isolation, from pick-and-rolls, and off the catch. His shot has a clean, quick release that can be a beauty to watch.
At 6-foot-2, Garland is a speedy ball handler who can change direction in an instant, and while he is not a great finisher (yet) at the rim, he has shown that he is capable of finding an open man when the defense collapses. Defensively, there are concerns, especially with how he will deal with switches in the NBA.
Darius Garland only featured in 5 games for Vanderbilt, before a knee injury sidelined him for the majority of his freshman campaign back in November. In those 5 games, Garland averaged 16.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.6 assists, per game. Shooting 53.7% from the field, and at an impressive 47.8% from 3.
Jarrett Culver is a 6-foot-7 shooting guard, coming out of Texas Tech. Unlike many of the options presented to the Lakers at number 4, Culver has 2 years of collegiate experience under his belt. The 20-year-old, in his first season in Texas, averaged 11.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.1 steals, per game, on 45.5% shooting, 38.2% from 3. In his second season Culver flourished, averaging 18.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.4 steals, on 46.1% shooting. However, he struggled in the 3-point category, converting at just 30.4%.
He does possess a great frame, at 6-foot-7, and can get physical around the rim, which would make him an interesting prospect with NBA spacing. But really his strengths sit in the mid-post. Additionally, Culver is a shot creator who can get his own shot off and can generate opportunities for others. He could be an option to play through the point guard position too, ticking the versatility box. Jarrett Culver is an intriguing 2-way prospect also, who can defensively cover positions 1-3 and look for a rebound.
Although, as previously mentioned, Culver is an inconsistent shooter. He went into a major slump in Texas Tech’s final 3 games of the season, including in the NCAA Championship game, shooting just 5/22 in an overtime loss to Virginia.
Another option for the Lakers could be De’Andre Hunter, who was part of the Virginia side that won the 2019 NCAA Championship. Much like Jarrett Culver, Hunter hosts 2 years of collegiate experience. Averaging 15.2 points in his sophomore year, along with 5.1 rebounds, and 2 assists, on 52% shooting, 43.8% from beyond the arc.
The 21-year-old has huge upside on the defensive end, standing at 6-foot-8 with a 7-2 wingspan, weighing 227 pounds. Hunter is capable of guarding multiple positions, whether it be at the top of the key or in the paint. Through 38 games for Virginia last season, Hunter recorded 22 blocks and 22 steals.
Hunter is a solid 2-way player, where on the offensive end he can be a mid-range/3-point threat. He shot at an impressive rate (42%) for a forward throughout his college career from 3-point land. However may it be noted that he shot from beyond the arc at a low rate, making only 67 3s in 71 games. There are concerns about his shooting stroke also, where he appears to lose confidence at times. Again, consistency.
Returning to Duke, an outside option for the Lakers could be Cam Reddish. He certainty looks an intriguing one too. On first glance, Reddish holds a strong physical profile, at 6-foot-8 and 218 pounds. A profile that will continue to fill out. Through 36 games for the Blue Devils, the 19-year-old averaged 13.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.6 steals. But through those games, he did only shoot at a 35.6% rate.
Reddish is listed as a forward but can play all of the perimeter positions. He has shown the fundamentals to be a solid shooter, but it is fair to say that his opportunities were limited in a Duke side that featured the soon-to-be number 1 draft pick in Zion Williamson, and projected top-3 pick RJ Barrett.
Cam Reddish is admired in terms of pure talent. He can make jumpers off the dribble and hosts quality footwork and rotation. He possesses potential upside as a ball handler, passer and a defender too.
It is believed that Reddish lacks explosiveness athletically, and that he isn’t a physical player. His effort level and focus have also been questioned. Additionally, while his shooting stoke looks impressive mechanically, he was an inconsistent shooter in college.
Maybe some one just needs to take the risk with him and he’ll flourish?
By Matt Evans (@mattyyyevans)