As the seconds ticked away, the Lakers’ choices did not just rest on going big (Jahlil Okafor), small (D’Angelo Russell) or risky (Kristaps Porzingis).
The Lakers eventually chose Russell with their No. 2 pick, believing his playmaking, leadership and confidence at the point guard position trumpeted any nostalgia for selecting Okafor as their next dominant big man to lead the franchise back to another championship era.
Once the Lakers were on the clock again, they had to decide who they would select with their 27th pick, a scenario that opened up much different possibilities. The candidates were not as clear cut because of the draft order and the talent level. The Lakers’ list of many needs on defense, outside shooting and secondary scoring still remained unaddressed.
So when the Lakers settled on Wyoming senior power forward Larry Nance. Jr, the choice seemed surprising for many reasons. Most NBA mock drafts pegged Nance. Jr as a second-round pick. The Lakers also already have a glut of power forwards in Julius Randle, Ryan Kelly, Jordan Hill, Ed Davis and Tarik Black.
“If I got picked in the first round, second round, lottery, never picked, it would’ve never mattered to me,” Nance Jr. said. “I just never really paid attention to mock drafts. As long as I go my chance to play in the NBA, I’m going to cherish it and relish it.”