The Lakers’ season-long misfortunes continued on Tuesday when they landed the seventh pick of the NBA draft, but the team’s offseason project still offers some sliver of hope.
That’s because as much as a top pick could either secure an elite player or provide a valuable trade chip, the Lakers will still have a chance to select a talented player who can fill one of many of the team’s needs.
One of those candidates includes Kentucky freshman forward Julius Randle, a strong rim protector that also sounded eager last week at the NBA pre-draft combine in Chicago to team up with a certain Lakers’ star named Kobe Bryant.
“He was my favorite player. I loved Kobe’s persona and swagger and how he played,” Randle said. “He was someone I always looked up to at a young age.”
Hence, why Randle’s eyes lit up about the possibility playing with Bryant.
“It would be extremely fun,” Randle said. “I could learn a lot from him and talk to one of the greatest, if not the greatest player of all time. There’s a lot I could learn from and pick his brain in just how to get better and dealing with adversity.”
The Lakers went through plenty of adversity last season, finishing with a 27-55 record amid a never-ending flurry of injuries and poor defensive performances.
Randle, who grew up watching the Lakers, admitted keeping tabs on those games even amid a heavy college schedule. Those struggles prompted Randle to tout that he could “fit well” with the Lakers considering his nation-leading 24 double doubles with the Wildcats entailed strong rebounding and defense, two skills in which the Lakers lacked consistency last season. Randle also seemed mindful that 12 of the Lakers’ 15 players will become free agents in July, paving the way for a young prospect such as himself to have a large role.
“That will be interesting to see,” Randle said. “They have a great organization. With their organization, they’ll do whatever is right to get back to where the Lakers were used to being.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org