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What the Lakers Need on Draft Day

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By Joey Kaufman/Special to LAist

Today’s NBA draft might be the last chance to satisfy your pro basketball fix as the likelihood of a work stoppage threatens to cut next season’s slate of games short to some degree at least.

The Los Angeles Lakers do not have a first round pick after trading guard Sasha Vujacic to New Jersey for forward/center Joe Smith in mid-December. However they do have a plethora of second round picks: No. 41 from Golden State, No. 46 from New York, No. 56 from Miami and No. 58 from Miami. It’s not exactly the place to uncover prospects able to elevate the Lakers past the second round of the playoffs after getting swept by the eventual NBA champion Dallas Mavericks, but it’s the hand that’s been dealt so to speak.

Surprisingly Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak has had moderate success in recent years in finding serviceable players in the second round of the draft. Players such as Marc Gasol, Ronny Turiaf, Luke Walton and Von Wafer were all second round selections by L.A. All still remain on NBA rosters today. And a season ago, Kupchak selected both Derrick Character (No. 58 overall) and Devin Ebanks (No. 43 overall) in round two - both ended up making the team in October which isn’t always the case as second round selections do not receive guaranteed contracts.

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With four picks it’s likely that just one or two will end up making the Lakers roster. As a result anticipate the Lakers, who have an aging Derek Fisher as well as an underachieving Steve Blake, to address their point guard problem in the draft by giving Butler’s Shelvin Mack and College of Charleston’s Andrew Goudelock serious looks. Last season, Mack averaged 16 points in leading the Bulldogs to the NCAA title game against Connecticut. Goudelock finished with averages of 23.7 points and 4.2 assists per contest.

Or instead of selecting a more established college player, they could select an undeveloped European prospect, retain his draft rights and stash him away overseas until he is NBA-ready or the team has the roster space needed. It’s what happened when they drafted Marc Gasol.

But perhaps the most intriguing scenario, at least the most talked about scenario, is the Lakers looking to trade up in the draft, possibly swapping Pau Gasol or Lamar Odom for Minnesota’s second overall pick, taking Derrick Williams as a result. Although the rumors have largely been unsubstantiated thus far, it’s been speculated that L.A. is not simply content with picking in the second round and might also wish to depart with some of its older players, particularly Gasol who struggled mightily in the playoffs in 2011.

Additionally, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times reported late Wednesday night that the Lakers offered Lamar Odom for the Timberwolves’ second overall pick, but their proposal was rejected. L.A. would gave likely used the pick on 6-foot-8 Arizona standout Derrick Williams, who is regarded as the draft’s top player behind Duke point guard Kyrie Irving.

It’s possible that Odom, whose salary after next season is only partially guaranteed and has a buyout clause worth $2 million for the 2012-2013 season, could be continued to be shopped on draft night.