The last pick in the Usenet draft belongs to the L.A. Lakers. The Lakers traded their first round pick to New Jersey. While the Lakers are picking #32 in the Usenet draft, in the real draft they will be selecting at #52 and #53. Their GM is:
Dennis R. Pascual

who selects:
Charles O'Bannon


Los Angeles Lakers Team and Draft Analysis

I. Team Needs/History

Point Guard - Pending resolution of Van Exel issue. As of now, he is staying. Nick will probably see less and less playing time next year, depending on the maturity level of Kobe Bryant. Bryant is an unbelievable talent, and the trade with Charlotte will go down as one of the most lopsided ever. Only problem is, Bryant is a true shooting guard, and would be starting there on a team without Eddie Jones. The other backup is Derek Fisher, who showed as a rookie that he belongs on the team. Excellent backup, no overwhelming aspect of his game, but no glaring weaknesses either. Fisher appeared as a mature professional throughout the year, showing little signs of being a "green" rookie. The Lakers, on paper, are very strong at this position. Only problem is the two primary point guards are converted shooting guards, and both are known to make mistakes a true point wouldn't. Shooting Guard - Will Byron Scott return? With Scott in the lineup, the Lakers know that they have a proven veteran, someone wearing championship rings, and also someone to provide leadership and guidance for the young club. Eddie Jones is a talent, and his all-star selection this year has shown that he is ready to be considered among the elite players in the league. Only knock on Eddie was his disappearance in the playoffs, a mistake hopefully remedied next year. The aforementioned Bryant also plays the 2. Kobe has the quick first step, is probably the Lakers best shooter, either off the dribble or the open three, and next to the big guy, will be the Lakers biggest scorer. All he needs to do is learn how to play defense! Again, another strength for the Lakers. Small Forward - Well, the defense and role playing has to come from somewhere! Robert Horry is an excellent team player, and although his statistics usually don't show it, is extremely valuable to the team. Horry plays great defense, has a deadly three point shot, and is a decent rebounder, ball handler, and passer. His height (6'10") helps gives the Laker starting lineup one of the tallest teams. Only problem with Horry was that he was a late addition to the team, and never seemed to find that perfect niche with the Lakers. A star one night, the next night disappearing. Horry just needs to find his flow a little better with the Lakers, and just let his smooth shot go when he has the chance. Jerome Kersey quickly became a fan favorite in LA. Most thought Kersey long past his prime, but Jerome showed that he still belongs. Jerome is a good defender, has a consistent shot, but his best attribute by far is his hustle. In addition to these two, Jones and Scott both played the pseudo small forward position when the Lakers went with a three guard, bomb it from the 3-point line lineup. Not overwhelming at this position, but not atrocious either. Unlike the small forward role of other teams, the 3 is not required to put up a lot of points for the Lakers. Power Forward - A lot of players, and they need it. Elden Campbell is the starter here. Some nights he is as overwhelming as Karl Malone, some nights he brings back memories of Tito Horford. It appears simply that Elden cannot play with Shaquille next to him. Elden has a variety of post-up moves, has a consistent 10-foot jumper, but definitely should be a better rebounder. Everyone in LA hopes that someday a fire will light up under Elden and he'll bring his A-game every day. Travis Knight was an absolute steal for the Lakers. A great rebounder, a smooth jump shot, and that motor always going. Knight is another crowd favorite in Los Angeles. Like I said though, the Lakers need the depth here. Both Knight and Elden are extremely foul-prone. Sean Rooks and Corie Blount come off of the bench to help here. Rooks was a joke at first in Los Angeles, seemingly looking lost when on the floor. He improved greatly when Shaq went down, and his minutes improved. Blount is the last man off the bench for the Lakers, providing adequate defense and rebounding. Power forward is sometimes a weakness for the Lakers, sometimes a hindrance. You either love them or hate them at this position. Center - Understandably, the strongest position for the Lakers. Shaq is Shaq. An unstoppable force, he has worked on his free throws to help minimize his only weakness. The only problem is that the Lakers tend to rely on him sometimes too much, making it hard for the other players of the Lakers to get into the flow of the game. Campbell is the backup, and a great one at that. Campbell would be the starting center on another team, and would excel there also. However, again, Shaq is Shaq, and that will be his position. Sean Rooks is another back-up to the big man.

II. Your Selection (and explanation)

Although they disappeared a little early from this year's playoffs, the Lakers are loaded and will be among the prime candidates for next year's championships. The Lakers need two things: maturity and chemistry. If Scott and Kersey return for another year, the Lakers will go far in the playoffs, as the team desperately needs their postseason experience. The Lakers, due to their late draft choice, will be drafting for depth and development. The only positions I can see them drafting for would be small forward or center. A small forward who can come into the game and shoot the little jumper, provide some defense, and help out on the boards, would be the more logical choice. I could also see the Lakers drafting a center with some upside, notating him a long-term project. Their draftee will need to be mature, realizing that there will be very little playing time available unless he is the second coming of Magic Johnson. The Lakers always seem to draft and have players from the local area, such as Scott and Campbell. The Lakers have had a pipeline to UCLA, including Jabbar, Wilkes, and Goodrich. For this reason, I would select Charles O'Bannon from UCLA. There is a chance, however slight, that Charles may fall from the first round. This is looking more and more doubtful with his excellent showing in the pre-draft camps. Charles could come into the Laker system, known for its up and down tempo, and provide some spark off the bench. He would be another instant crowd favortie. Heck, Jack Nicholson was cheering him on in the 1995 NCAA championship. Charles has developed an excellent short range jumper in the past two years, and can bomb it from three point land as well. Charles plays solid defense and can rebound at the three thanks to his great athleticism. Although only 6'5", which is probably going to hurt him in the draft, the Lakers already have sufficient height at the other positions, and his smaller stature won't be as detrimental to the Lakers as it would other teams.

III. Others considered (and why considered)

As stated previously, a project center would be a wise selection as well, seeing that the Lakers have, on paper, only one center on the team. Serge Zwikker would be an excellent selection, but I do not see him slipping into the second round. I believe that either Jason Lawson or Scot Pollard would be more realistic selections for the Lakers. I would select the Jayhawk over the Wildcat, again stressing the maturity issue. Pollard, while maybe not as athletically gifted as Lawson, can be counted on to give his all every night, and his hustle and hard play would be well admired by Laker fans. As a project though, Lawson may eventually display his enormous potential, having the chance to practice against Kazaam all the time.

IV. Who the team will probably take

I strongly believe that the Lakers will take O'Bannon if he is there. Then again, you can count on West for picking the gem of the draft (not counting Frankie King), whether that person is a college All-American or from a small Div II school. If O'Bannon is not there, the Lakers will take the best available big man.

V. Other moves that the team should make

There are two big concerns the Lakers must address for the coming year: 1) The volatile relationship between Harris and Van Exel IMO, one or both must go. Harris has done a good job for the Lakers, but can we really count on him to take the Lakers to the promised land? Same concern for Van Exel. Dallas offered Jason Kidd straight up for Van Exel before trading Kidd to Phoenix. Shaq reneged, stating that he felt more comfortable with Van Exel. Of course, this happened when the Lakers were at peak form, clearly the best team in the west near mid-season. Jerry West has had a closed door meeting with the two, and apparently all issues were remediated. Of course, this was after their season had come to an abrupt halt. Let's see what happens next season. Better to rid the Lakers of one of the two now, then to go about the problem until mid-season. 2) Getting the Lakers away from being a one-dimensional team Seemed the same play from the sidelines every game. Throw it to Shaq..... throw it back......throw it to Shaq again who promptly shoots or gets fouled. The Lakers just became way too predictable. Before Shaq's injury in mid-season, it looked as if the Lakers were at the point where team chemistry was asserting itself. When Shaq went down, the Lakers turned to Campbell, and learned to pass the ball. It was when Shaq came back that they turned one-dimensional, which was badly exploited in the playoffs. As stated previously, the Lakers are loaded, and should challenge for the championship not only next year, but for the next several years. The Lakers can go big, can go small, are athletic, can play up-tempo, can play half court, play decent defense, excel in shot blocking, can hit the three, can take you off the dribble, etc........and most importantly...........are extremely young. They have the franchise player. They have the crucial role players. They have another all-star player in Eddie Jones. They have a deep bench. They just need to play to their ability, not only against the Bulls and Sonics, but against every team. Los Angeles should be the team to beat. Hopefully, it will be Showtime '98 next year, a year later than expected (by LA fans of course!). GO LAKERS! GO BRUINS!

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