A changing of the guard, so to speak, is taking place in the NBA.
Older teams such as the Spurs, Celtics and Lakers are struggling decidedly to compete with youth & athleticism. Teams with considerably younger talent are having their way and their athleticism is shining through in this years playoffs.
The outcome of this season quickly went from bleak, to on life support, to over for the two-time defending champions. Their historical pursuit of an unprecedented fourth trip to the NBA Finals went unsuccessful.
Former Lakers great Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson made the argument recently that the team has played together too long and needed to be blown up.
This current Lakers core is worn-down. Kobe Bryant is in need of a younger more consistent supporting cast, but a complete overhaul is unnecessary.
The core players Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Derek Fisher are in their 30’s. The changes the Lakers need to make start with adding more youth, athleticism and versatility.
In short the Lakers need more athletes.
L.A. needs to acquire a ball handling point guard capable of running the show and defending the league’s smaller quicker guards, a scorer/defender capable of getting his own shot, a shooter capable of consistently knocking down open jump shots and a back up center who specializes in rebounding and defending.
Most fans talk about trade possibilities, and free agent acquistions. But, the Lakers will need to also use the draft to improve the team.
The Lakers do not have a selection in the first round. However, they do posses a total of four second-round picks. Second round picks may not be as glamorous as a first rounder, but essential pieces to building a team.
The two best second round draft picks in history of the franchise have to be forward Rudy Larusso and guard Nick Van Exel.
Rudy Larusso drafted in 1959, the 6’7 220 lb. forward from Dartmouth averaged 12.8 points, 8.5 rebounds and two assists in an eight-year Laker career that included 8,231 points and three all-star appearances.
Nick Van Exel drafted in 1993, the 6’1 170 lb. guard from Cincinnati averaged 14.9 points, seven assists in a five-year Laker career making one all-star appearance and scoring a total of 5,633 points.
Here are the most intriguing second round prospects of the 2011 draft that could add youth, athleticism, depth and production to the Lakers bench and put points on the board while the starters rest.
- (41) PG Demetri McCamey 6’3 200 lbs. Illinois – A four-year starter for the Illini, McCamey is a big, physical lead guard who has deep range on his jump shot. McCamey took on the challenge of running the show during his senior season. He is a proven playmaker displaying the ability to get the basket. He posted a 3-1 assist to turnover ratio, shot 50% from behind the arc and averaged 17.2 points per game. The three best traits that he possesses are his shooting, penetrating and court vision.
- (46) SF Jimmy Butler 6’7 215 lbs. Marquette – A three-year starter for the Golden Eagles, Butler is a smooth scorer who can score inside and outside, a solid rebounder, a lockdown defender that can guard multiple positions. Butler has good hops, quick feet and a relentless motor. Butler averaged 15.7 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Butler shot 49 % from the field, 35 % from behind the arc and 78 % from the free throw line. Butler’s best trait is on defense as a lock down defender.
- (56) SG David Lighty 6’6 220 lbs. Ohio State – Lighty was a key role player on the Buckeyes 2007 Final Four team. Lighty is a shooting guard who has the athletic ability and basketball intelligence to defend his position. Lighty is an unselfish player, a solid shooter with range. Lighty will remind you a lot of Raja Bell a good shooter ready for the next level. Lighty’s best traits are his shooting, ability to defend and basketball intelligence.
- (58) SG Jon Diebler 6’ 6 205 lbs. Ohio State – Diebler is a lights out shooter with range. Diebler isn’t the best athlete, but his ability to shoot the basketball is what gets him noticed. Diebler is a terrific shooter with range, capable of consistently knocking down open jump shots from behind the arc.
A few other prospects to consider in the second round are SF Robin Benzing – Germany, SG Shelvin Mack – Butler, PF Nikola Vucevic – USC, SG Scotty Hopson – Tennessesse, PG Malcolm Lee – UCLA, C Reggie Johnson – Miami and SG E’Twaun Moore – Purdue.