Who the Los Angeles Lakers Should Target in the 2015 NBA Draft

The Los Angeles Lakers don’t know yet where they’ll be picking in the 2015 NBA Draft. But with multiple selections in the offing, the front office is sure to be setting its sights on some prime preliminary targets.

The team is locked into fourth position for the annual tumbling of the Ping Pong balls on May 19. But that doesn’t guarantee an actual lottery pick.

The Lakers still need a little luck.

Because the pick is top-five protected, L.A. will forfeit it to the Philadelphia 76ers if it falls below that level.

But even if the Lakers do get bounced from the lottery, they’ll still have a couple of nice consolation prizes—a late first-round pick courtesy of the Jeremy Lin trade (via Houston) and an early second-round selection.

At the top of the order, elite prospects include Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns and Willie Cauley-Stein, Duke’s Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow, and Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell.

Also in this top grouping is point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, who elected to play in China, rather than college, but suffered an ankle injury that limited him to 12 games overseas.  

The exact order is fluid at the moment, with the NBA Draft Combine set to take place in mid-May. For now, however, Towns and Okafor are running one and two on most mock draft boards, including Jonathan Wasserman’s for Bleacher Report.

Cauley-Stein, meanwhile, is a bit of a wild card, ranked at No. 4 by Zach Harper of CBS Sports and No. 7 by Wasserman.

Of course, the Lakers would love to get a crack at the very top, as unlikely as that possibility may seem. Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times very recently wrote: “At fourth, the Lakers have 11.9% odds of winning the top overall pick, 12.6% for second, 13.3% for third, 9.9% for fourth and 35.1% for fifth.”

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