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2024 NBA Draft: Lakers Place in First Round Revealed

Mar 22, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; On the left Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka talks with head coach Darvin Ham (right) prior to the game against the Philadelphia 76ers at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

The Lakers’ heartbreaking game 2 loss last night has many fans believing their season could be over sooner than later. Amid the wild times of the 2024 playoffs, the NBA released the tiebreakers for this year’s draft on Monday, with the 47-35 Lakers being in a four-way tiebreaker with the 76ers, Magic and Pacers.

2024 NBA Draft: Lakers Place in First Round Revealed

Lakers’ First-Round Pick

This year, the Lakers will be picking 17th in the 2024 NBA Draft, finishing second in that tiebreaker behind Philadelphia.

There are plenty of discussions around the Lakers’ offseason plans, including whether they’d keep or trade the first-round pick. A deal could still be on the table, depending on the interest of another “third star hunt.” However, judging by this season, the Lakers could also spend that first-round pick on a talented rookie who could help them right away.

Positions of Need

The biggest need for the Lakers is at center. It’s been proven in this series and throughout the year that Anthony Davis needs a reliable backup if he gets hurt or into foul trouble, just as he did last night. His current backups, Jaxson Hayes and Christian Wood, have been polarizing, to say the least. Hayes has been too inconsistent in meaningful minutes, while Wood is ramping up towards a return from knee surgery.

Other options would be the shooting guard or small forward positions, as the Lakers’ injuries left them decimated at these spots at various points throughout the year. The team could use a younger guard or forward who can roam the perimeter while making effective shots. This year’s draft class has plenty of guards and wings who fit that profile.

Potential Options

One target the Lakers should consider is Indiana big man Kel’el Ware. The 7-footer is a double-double machine who can space the floor as a respectable three-point shooter. Ware averaged 16 points and ten rebounds per game in 30 appearances as a sophomore. He shot 58% shooting from the field, 42% from deep and 63% from the line. Ware was also named to the All-Big Ten second team and an All-Defensive selection, averaging nearly two blocks per game. Several draft boards have him mocked to the late-teens. With the Lakers desperately in need of frontcourt help, Ware’s talents should put him on their radar.

Another option is Ja’Kobe Walter, a 6’5” guard/wing out of Baylor. In 35 games for the Bears, the Big 12 Freshman of the Year averaged 14.5 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.1 steals on .376/.341/.792 splits. Bleacher Report’s latest mock draft had him going 19th overall and added:

“After struggling during the Big 12 tournament, Ja’Kobe Walter scored 19 and 20 points against Colgate and Clemson, respectively, in the NCAAs. He showed exactly what the scouting report read all season: catch-and-shoot shotmaking, physical line-driving and limited creativity off the dribble.”

Walter’s three-level scoring and defensive potential are key areas the Lakers should notice as the NBA Draft gets closer. His offense could be an ideal fit to boost a struggling bench, while his issues guarding the ball can get fixed with time. With several Lakers rotation players expected to hit free agency, taking a chance on Walter and his versatility wouldn’t hurt at all.


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