Los Angeles Lakers With the last pick in the first round, the new NBA Champions - Los Angeles Lakers.  Their Net GM is Ian McLean who selects:

Corey Hightower, SG, 6'6", Indian Hills (IA) CC

I. Introduction

Well, the Lakers did it and returned a Championship to LA. For a NBA Champion though the Lakers are in bad shape. The 'Excise Tax' is looming and the Lakers' owners Jerry Buss is determined to get the team's salaries below the expected limit of $53-55 million by the 2001-2002 season. Many of the Lakers Players (Ron Harper, A.C. Green, Brian Shaw and John Salley) should be retiring before then, but still the Lakers situation looks bleak. Here is my projected Salaries for the 2001-2002 season:

  1. Shaquille O'Neal $20.6 mil.
  2. Kobe Bryant $11.3 mil
  3. Glen Rice $9.0 mil
  4. Robert Horry $5.2 mil
  5. Derek Fisher $3.8 mil
  6. Rick Fox $3.8 mil
  7. Travis Knight $3.4 mil
  8. Devean George $1.0 mil
  9. John Celestand $1.0 mil
  10. "#29 - '00" . . . . $0.75 mil
  11. "#29 - '01" . . . . $0.75 mil
  12. "Veteran Exception" $2.4 mil

It all adds up to $63 million, that means the Lakers will have to release Rice and his $9 million salary without getting anything in return. There may not even be salary room enough to have anything but minimum salary players on the Injured reserve List. This all goes to show how important this years draft will be to the Lakers future. The Lakers are looking to have to replace their back-up center, starting power forward, starting small forward, starting 2nd guard and regular rotation 3rd guard all by the 2001-2002 season, while spending significantly less to do it. The problem breaks down to the fact that Kobe's $9 million a year salary will increase at 12.5% per year and Shaq's $17.1 million will increase at 10% per year. If the NBA revenue, which is not growing much at all, does not keep up with these increases, the Lakers 'problem' with the 'Excise Tax' will get worse and worse.

II. Draft History

  • 1990 - Elden Campbell (27th), Tony Smith (51st)
  • 1991 - Anthony Jones (52nd)
  • 1992 - Anthony Peeler (15th), Duane Cooper (36th)
  • 1993 - George Lynch (12th), Nick Van Exel (37th)
  • 1994 - Eddie Jones (10th)
  • 1995 - Frankie King (37th)
  • 1996 - Derek Fisher (24th), Kobe Bryant (13th), Travis (29th)
  • 1997 - DeJuan (52nd), Paul Rogers (54th)
  • 1998 - Sam Jacobson (26th), Ruben Patterson (31st), Tyronn Lue (23rd)
  • 1999 - Devean George (23rd), John Celestand (30th)

III. Team Analysis


The Lakers are now running 'Tex' Winter's triangle offense, and in it Phil Jackson has no place for point guards, both guards are supposed to be equal and share backcourt responsibility. Jackson likes to run a three guard rotation, but has altered that to make Fisher the designated small fast point guard stopper of the bench. In theory this spot should be filled with Kobe playing close to a full 48 minutes and two other 'Big Guards' spelling Kobe and splitting the other position.


21 years old and a 1st team All-Defense and 2nd team All-NBA selection. Kobe has become the undisputed best two-guard in the NBA. As Jackson "Initiator" he still has a lot to learn, but then Michael Jordan took 2 years to learn the job too. All the past problems associated with Kobe have disappeared this season and he looks to be the 2nd cornerstone to the Lakers hopes to restore a 'dynasty' to Los Angles. The only problem with him is he makes $9 million a year and it is increasing at 12.5% per year for the next six years. If the NBA revenue does not grow with Kobe's salary the 'Excise Tax' problem for the Lakers will continue to get worse and worse.


Ron is co-captain of the team with Shaq. He was supposed to retire before being dragooned by Jackson to return to 'coach' Kobe in the triangle offense. he did an excellent job and is expected to return next season to finish the job, before finally getting to retire. He does not bring much during the regular season when Jackson tries to rest him as much as possible, but his experience was priceless during the play-offs. He will retire before the 2001-2002 season.


Brought in as an after thought when Kobe broke his hand in the pre-season, Brian became the biggest 'steal' the Lakers have ever had as a free-agent. He comes off the bench to spell both Kobe and Harper, and lead the Lakers in assists per 48 minutes. He should have earned himself a return next season most likely getting the Lakers $1.2 million 'exception. He may still be around past 2001-2002, but at most for one more season.


A player on the bubble. He is a classic point guard on a team that does not have one. He struggled during the season with the changes in his role and injury, but came on to have an outstanding play-off run. Jackson like to match him up against reserve point guards, especially small fast one. At this Fisher has really shinned, shutting down first Greg Anthony and then Travis Best. Though it now appears that Jackson would like to keep him, with his outstanding play in the Finals his trade value is so high he may be let go to bring a power forward to the Lakers.


Fan favorite or not I fear Lue's days in purple and gold are numbered. Though an outstanding shooter, I just do not see Jackson excepting the defensive liability to his system a light-weight six foot point guard creates. He was a non-factor this season as he had knee surgery and could not even practice until late in April, thus he never learned the triangle along with the rest of the team. Rumors have the Lakers shopping Lue for an early 2nd round pick.


Last years 30th pick he spent most of the season on the injured reserve list, but without an injury. He impressed the Lakers coaching staff and when he was given a chance to play in the last four games of the season he did very well. He is said to be very impressive in practice simulating small fast point guards, and is responsible in part for Kobe's 1st Team All-Defensive selection. He most likely will not break into the regular rotation next year, but he may replace Fisher if Fisher is traded. Regardless he will be back and be on the 12 man rotation for next season, and may eventually become the starting or 3rd guard in the Lakers rotation. By all early appearances he was another of West's 2nd round gems.


This is where one of the Lakers draft needs resides. Both Harper and Shaw are due to retire in the next couple of years, leaving the starting and rotation 3rd guard spots open. Celestand might eventually fill one of these spots, but drafting another 'Big Guard' in this years draft seems the most likely way to fill the other slot.

Small Forward

Though much maligned Glen Rice and Rick Fox have combined to make this one of the Lakers strongest position throughout the season.


Considered the worst trade the lakers had ever made he at least can now thumb his nose at his detractors, no matter how you want to slur him the Lakers are Champions and that is the big prize. Rice keeps getting knocked as a defensive liability, but I sure have not seen it in games. He has become a very good team defender and in the Finals was actually the most successful Laker when matched-up with Jalen Rose and Austin Croshere. Rice struggled though as a 'shooter'. He had trouble hitting in the new Staple's Center until late in the year and has been very slow in adapting to the triangle. It all does not really matter though, even if Rice comes on strong next season he will not stay in a Lakers uniform beyond 2001, the Lakers just cannot afford him. Rumor is the Lakers will offer rice a one year $8-8.5 million contract, this is the most the Lakers can pay him without his becoming a 'Base Year Compensation Player', which would make him untradable.


Rick had a baby right in the middle of the play-offs, it was very bad timing. Rick had problems concentrating and did not play particularly well throughout the play-offs. In the regular season though Fox was one of the quickest to pick up the triangle and lead the Lakers in three-pointer per 48 minutes. Fox gave up bigger contracts to stay with the Lakers and trading him is out of the question on moral considerations alone, so he will be back next year. If Rice is traded he may even get a chance to start again, though it appears the starting small forward slot will eventually go to Devean George.


The surprise Lakers 23rd pick last year the whole Lakers organization is in love with him. He saw very little playing time in other than 'garbage time' but on a few occasions he came in and gave a very good account of himself. Like Celestand, George is a superb practice player and looks to get regular minutes next year. Jackson has played Devean at guard and both forward positions, but I think he is planned to be the Lakers starting small forward for the 2001-2002 season.


The small forward spot seems well filled for the present. Rice should be back for one more season, and then can be replaced by Devean George. Fox has become a valuable bench player and can fill the starting small forward spot if Rice is traded or George take longer to develop.

Power Forward

No jokes about, "Do the Lakers have one?", because the truth hurts. This has been the Lakers weakest position all season. The Lakers rely on small forward sized A.C. Green and Robert Horry to fill the slot. Horry getting the majority of minutes off the bench.


Robert does not have the strength to defend most of the bigger power forwards in the post, but has done a good job. He is also the key to the Lakers 'help' defense. He came back to top form in the play-offs and though his statistics are not outstanding he is the third most important player on the team behind Shaq and Kobe. He like to come off the bench instead of starting, this allows Green to wear-down the other sides power forward before Horry comes in. He seems to have this spot sewed up for the foreseeable future, as the Lakers are looking for a veteran power forward to start and back-up at center through either a trade or free-agency. This will leave Horry playing power forward off the bench and taking the majority of the power forward minutes.


Fits right in with Ron Harper. One of the main reasons the Lakers are Champions. Oh, he did not shut-down Wallace, in fact he was eaten alive by him, but he did his job to the best of his ability and better than any starting power forward has done for the Lakers since he left in free-agency, and he added the veteran experience that the Lakers needed to get over the hump. He has two seasons left on his contract, but could retire at any time. Jackson and the rest of the Lakers organization are very happy with him, though they want a bigger presence at power forward in the future. The choice of whether to retire seems to be entirely up to him, even if the Lakers find a larger power forward in free-agency or a trade.


So close and so far. Travis was brought in last season to be the Lakers power forward, but he has never regained the form he had in his rookie season where he made the All- NBA Rookie 2nd Team along with Kobe. He has seemed so close at times but it all falls apart with a flurry of senseless fouls. He also has trouble defending in the post. He needs to learn better mechanics and gain a little more strength. His biggest problem though seems to be a lack of confidence. Jackson is a wizard at given guys like Travis confidence but so far this has come to nothing. He has a long term contract that if he does not work out will be a big burden on the Lakers when the 'Excise tax; kicks in. I am sure the Lakers would love to include him in a trade to clear him off the books, but barring this he may be back next season. He has great potential as the Lakers future starting power forward and back-up center, if he can just the confidence to play within himself.


The Lakers will try to intice a veteran power forward to Los Angles with the $2.2 million 'Veteran Exception'. This has a good chance of working as with a half way decent power forward the Lakers will be over-whelming favorites to repeat next year. Also on the possibility list is a trade of Rice and/or Fisher to bring a power forward to the Lakers, though this seems less likely as few teams will want to complete the missing peice that may insure a long term Laker dynasty.


The strongest and weakest of the Line-up. Shaq plays 40 plus minutes per game, and it is a good thing because there is very little to back him up.


What can I say, he has entered the realm of true legends of the game, it is no longer sacrilege to mention him in the same breath as Russell, Wilt and Kareem. His only weakness is free-throws, and he showed some improvement in the middle of the season. In the off-season he just may bring his free-throws up to the mid-60% range. If he does he could become the most dominant player the game has ever known. Not just because of making the free-throws, but because when he is making them and thus not worried about getting fouled and going to the line he is more aggressive and simply unstoppable. The problem with Shaq missing his free-throws in not so much the loss of the free-throw but the lose of his aggression on offense. The Lakers will have to make a big decision this off-season, Shaq is up for an extension of his contract. But, if the Lakers give him the 12.5% yearly raise it allows and the NBA's revenue continues with moderate gains the Lakers will find themselves over the 'Excise Tax' with Kobe's and Shaq's salaries almost by themselves.


John did not have to play much, but did good in many clutch situations when called upon. He is not the answer at back-up center but did well enough to get invited back to training camp next year. His main contribution though has been his veteran experience. It is no coincidence that Shaq suddenly leads all centers in assists and John was one of the games best passing big men. John also acts as a coach on the bench, advising his teammates on other teams defensive sets. If they do not need him back as back-up center they had better hire him as an assistant coach, regardless at the minimum he is a great value if there is a spot open on the 15 man roster.


The Lakers need a true back-up center. Perhaps combined with a starting power forward, as it is the center-type power forwards that give the Lakers the most trouble. with the lure of having a good chance at getting a ring the Lakers should have little trouble finding one with the free-agent exceptions.

Coaching Staff

Phil Jackson is signed through several more years and is doing what no Lakers coach has been able to do of late, get this very talented team playing to their potential. Don't expect any changes next season.

Front Office

Jerry West is rumored to be thinking of retiring, whether he does or not should make little difference, though I sure hope he stays. Mitch Kupcheck has been groomed for the job for years and will be a great replacement, he recently refused to leave for a higher paying job knowing he will head the Lakers soon. If Jerry does not retire this year he will eventually, he promised Mitch he would not extend his contract to keep him in Los Angeles. Kurt Rambis looks to be first in line to replace Kupcheck if he moves up.

IV. Team Needs

Regardless of position the Lakers have a need for outside shooting. Teams have sagged off the Lakers 2nd guard and power forwards all season to double and triple team Shaq. Whatever position the Lakers draft the Player must be able to hit an open 20' face up jumper and better yet the open three. Also of prime importance will be defensive potential. Regardless of what position, West has a knack of finding over- looked talent, so I doubt I will even have the Lakers pick listed here, especially if it is a guard. The needs fall into two basic categories:

  1. A large bodied power forward who can play some back-up center.
  2. A 'Big Guard' in the mold of Ron Harper and/or Brian Shaw.


The Lakers biggest need is at power forward and back-up center. A.C. Green and John Salley are going to be around for another year at best. The Lakers will still have Robert Horry at power forward and Travis Knight at back-up center/power forward, but both are undersized and a big body who can play at both positions would be the perfect fit. As I see it the perfect candidate would have the following qualities:

OFFENSE: Good scorer who can average 10 points a game. Be a patient shooter who will take high percentage shots and average 45%+ field goals. Be able to play in the open floor and hit the occasional face-up jumper out to 20' (In college that would translate into the ability to hit the 3-pt shot 33%+ and attempt 1+ per game). Be a good pivot player with high and low post games. Be able to take it to basket strong and power the ball into the hoop. And, it would be nice if he was a fair free thrower of at least 60%.

DEFENSE: Strong defensive player with the size to deny the big power forwards of the Western Conference position. Have active hands to bat away balls in the post and get the occasional steal. Be a good rebounder particularly on defense and have the skill, size and strength to block out under the rim, average 6+ rebounds per game. Be able to block shots and intimidate in the paint, average at least 1 block per game.

GENERAL: Good passer/ball handler who averages at least 1 assist per game and has an assist to turnover ratio of around 1. Be able to run the floor and have good footwork in and around the paint. Have the size and strength to play center (about 6' - 10"+ and 240 lbs+) and have played some power forward in college or have the skills to play power forward.

1. Etan Thomas, 6-9, 260, PF, Syracuse

A good defensive talent he still needs to develop his offense to play at power forward in the NBA. He appears to have the raw talent and his defense alone might make him a good pick for the Lakers. He has an outside chance at being a lottery pick but most likely will go in the mid to late 1st round, with a possibility of dropping to the early 2nd round if enough underclassmen declare.

Etan Thomas is a senior at Syracuse where he has played at center for all four years. He will have to switch to power forward in the NBA and for that he will have to expand his offensive game. He is a very good defender and has good strength and quickness. He is a fair scorer with 14 points a game, good rebounder with 9.4 a game and runs the floor well.

Though he can put up a fair number of points his offense is limited. He has good hands and great leaping ability allowing him to get many of his points off of tips and putbacks. He does not have good shooting range nor touch, this may be the result of his large hands which make it difficult for him to put rotation on the ball. He uses his speed and strength to get good position in the post and does well finding his defenders weakness and has good footwork to penetrate for lay-ups. He has a decent hook shot and uses good shot selection which is how he maintains an outstanding 59% field goal percentage. Though sufficient for college his offense seems too limited to make the transition to power forward in the NBA. If he does not overcome the problems with his jump shot he may never be successful on offense in the NBA.

He is an outstanding defender and one of the top shot blockers in the country averaging 3.7 blocks a game and holds several records. Though his aggressiveness can lead to foul trouble he is intelligent about it and has not fouled out of a game this season. He has been named "Big East Defensive Player of the Year" and I consider him a much better defender than some players with more blocked shots because he is disciplined, not taking chances. He lets his intimidation alter shots while staying at home defensively and keeping good rebounding position. If all this is not good enough he is an excellent post defender. He is also a good rebounder, using his quickness and knack of getting to the ball to averaging 9.4 per game.

He was plagued by injuries earlier this season, so he may be subjected to some physicals by perspective teams. He is generally talked about as a mid 1st round pick but like so many others that depends on which underclassmen declare so there is a real possibility that he could slip even as far as the 2nd round.

His averages per game are 32.3 minutes, 14.0 points, 9.4 rebounds, 0.8 steals, 3.7 blocks, 0.6 assists, 2.0 turnovers, 3.1 fouls, makes 5.2 of 8.8 field goals (59%), and 3.6 of 5.3 free throws (68%).

2. Jamal Magloire, 6-10, 260, PF/C, Kentucky

Early in the season he would have been available with the 29th overall pick, but he has finally answered his critics and exploded on the offensive end. He is a little on the short side but is such a good defender he should be able to play back-up center. If enough underclassmen declare and he is available he would be a pretty good fit, though he needs to develop a face up jumper.

Jamal Magloire a senior at Kentucky is considered one of the best defending big men in college ball and is finally developing the ability to score. He is really only around 6-9 but has huge reach with his 7-7 wing span. People have compared his build to Alonzo Mourning's, but he is really more the size to play power forward than center. He has become a good scorer averaging 13.2 points per game on 51% shooting, is a good rebounder with 9.1 per game and is an outstanding defensive player.

Though he has improved and is scoring pretty well this is still the weak point in his game. Since he does not really have the size to play center he needs to develop his face up game. He has a poor jump shot with no range. He does most of his scoring by rolling off his man in the post where he is very hard to push off the blocks because of his strength or by getting down court fast and taking position deep in the lane. He also is not a good passer and turnovers have been a problem, partly due to poor offensive footwork leading to travels. Though he can put up good points in college this way, this is just not going to cut it in the NBA where the competition is better and the power forwards and centers are much bigger than in college.

Defense has always been a strong point of his. He is an outstanding shot blocker averaging 1.7 per game and his intimidation factor alters many more shots. He has great defensive footwork and is an excellent post defender. He runs the floor well and gets back in transition. He establishes good rebounding position and with his long arms and strength this makes him an excellent rebounder. Put simply he is considered one of the best interior defenders in the country.

He has played for the Canadian National. Last year he considered entering the draft but reconsidered when it appeared he might not make it into the 1st round. GM's were worried about his lack of offense, energy and endurance. This year he has improved in all these areas, but he has more competition. The NBA has always been kind to defensive players so even if he does not make it into the 1st round he will go very quickly in the 2nd.

His averages per game are 29.3 minutes, 13.2 points, 9.1 rebounds, 0.6 steals, 1.7 blocks, 0.6 assists, 2.8 turnovers, 2.8 fouls, makes 4.5 of 8.9 field goals (51%), and 4.3 of 6.2 free throws (69%).

4. Mamadou N'diaye, 7-0, 245, C/PF, Auburn

More of a project than a finished product he has such great athleticism for a seven footer that he is one of the top prospects to be an NBA center. He looks to be a mid 1st round pick but could slip if more polished underclassmen centers enter the draft. If the Lakers can wait for him to develop he could be a good choice, though it is questionable he will develop the outside shooting ability to play power forward.

Mamadou N'diaye is a senior at Auburn and has the size and athleticism to play center in the NBA. Not yet a good scorer he still averages 8.9 point per game on 53% shooting. He is a very good rebounder averaging 8 per game. He is still learning the game but runs the floor extremely well for a big man, and, is an extremely good shot blocker.

He is a native of Senegal and did not play basketball until he came to prep school in the United States. He got off to a slow start at Auburn but has steadily improved every year. He has been a wonderful student of the game and has learned quickly. He is dedicated and has attend Big man camps during the summers. He has also improved his athleticism and strength, now at 245 ponds he is big enough to play center in the NBA.

His most outstanding talent is his ability to run and jump like a guard with incredible lateral quickness. He has great body control and uses it well to hold off defenders. All this adds up to the ability to score easily in the paint, though he has sometimes not been aggressive enough and will settle for a fade-away rather than finish hard. He still needs to work on his post moves and lacks range on his jumper, but has shown good shot selection and he continues to improve.

He is a first rate shot blocker and he broke Charles Barkley's career record in his junior year. In addition to his 1.8 blocks per game he alters numerous others. He is a real force in the paint and anchors Auburn's defense. He rebounds almost as well as he blocks averaging 8 per game. His long reach and athleticism really make him a monster at times on the boards. He is not a good one-on-one defender as he is still learning the moves and he has a habit of committing bad fouls.

He is still learning the little things that make a basketball player. But he has great potential and his childhood of playing football (soccer to you Americans) shows in his great athletic ability. He played on the Senegal National Team and has dedicated himself to becoming an NBA player. He might fall if a few underclassmen with more polished games declare.

His averages per game are 26.3 minutes, 8.9 points, 8 rebounds, 0.8 steals, 1.8 block, 0.5 assists, 2.2 turnovers, 3.1 fouls, makes 2.9 of 5.5 field goals (53%) and 3.1 of 4.6 free throws (67%).

5. Jabari Smith, 6-10, 245, PF/C, LSU

I think this is the best player the Lakers are likely to get with the 29th overall pick, and after watching him in a couple of games he seems just about right to fill the Lakers Power Forward/Center needs.

Jabari Smith a senior at LSU has the size to play center in the NBA though he is more suited to the power forward position. He is a good scorer with 12.6 point per game on 56% shooting, sound rebounder averaging 7 per game, competent ballhandler, runs the floor well and can play in the open court.

He has a nice face up jumper with range out to 20' and can step out and convert the occasional three point shot. He has the ability to take the ball to the basket with a variety of scoring moves, both up the middle and from the baseline. He is good in both the high and low posts, has good interior footwork, can drop step and hit turnaround jumpers utilizing the glass. He is considered a smart basketball player and is a good passer and ballhandler averaging 2.3 assist per game, though turnovers have been a problem he has cut them down averaging 2.4 for March.

He is a little short on athleticism in terms of jumping ability so he is not a great shot blocker for his size averaging just 1 per game, though he is a competent shot blocker and his best defensive strength may be the intimidation he creates more than what he actually does. He lacks lateral quickness so he is not able to get around defenders for offensive rebounds, but he is a good defensive rebounder where he uses his size and strength to block out. His rebounding, shot blocking and scoring have dropped about 25% due to the emergence of his teammate Stromile Swift. Somewhat a plus as it shows he can be a role player and will not demand to be a star. He is not a good free thrower averaging 59% for the season though he has improved to 67% in March.

Smith came to LSU from an Atlanta junior college and he is considered one of the top 100 players in college. Still a rather unknown player he is over shadowed by his teammate Stromile Swift. Due to the number and quality of power forwards in this years draft he will more appeal to teams looking for someone to play center, as he has the size and good centers are always in short supply. Expected to be a late 1st round pick he could drop to the second round if one more good power forward or center declares.

His averages per game are 28.5 minutes, 12.6 points, 7 rebounds, 0.8 steals, 1 block, 2.3 assists, 2.6 turnovers, 2.4 fouls, makes 4.6 of 8.2 field goals (56%), 0.4 of 1 three pointers (40%) and 3 of 5.1 free throws (59%).

6. Mark Madsen, 6-8, 235, PF/SF, Stanford

OK he is not the type that could play center, he may not even be able to play power forward in the NBA, but he is such an aggressive rebounder you just can't ignore him. He kind of reminds me of Dennis Rodman (the good part) and if Phil Jackson wants a replacement this could be the guy. Probably a 2nd round pick, if the Lakers picked up a center/power forward in the 1st round this guy might be a nice 2nd round pick.

Mark Madsen is nicknamed "Mad Dog" and he lives up to his name. More the size for a small forward in the NBA he may make it as a power forward out of shear toughness and hustle. He is a limited scorer but averages 12.5 points per game, an outstanding rebounder averaging 9.4 per game and one of the scrappiest players in the NCAA.

He has a high field goal percentage of 60%, but his scoring ability is limited and may not transfer to the NBA. He can hit a jumper from 15' but his shot looks horrible and he is slow moving into it. He is a good low post player where he has excellent ballhandling abilities and is able to work his way into the defenders weakness, and finish with a high percentage up and under or turnaround hook. Unfortunately he is a poor free throw shooter at 58%, so defenders will foul him rather than let him have the high percentage shot.

He is a good aggressive defender and has the strength to match up with bigger players. He is not a good passer and does not use good judgment in giving up the ball to open men on offense. He is a great rebounder, he blocks out well and is very hard to get around or push out of position, he just seems to have a nose for the ball and get more than his share of boards for a player his size.

He spent two years on a Mormon mission before returning to play basketball. Some doubt he will make it to the NBA, but with his energy and enthusiasm I know he will make it.

His averages per game are 27 minutes,12.5 points, 9.4 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 2.2 fouls, 0.5 steals, 1.5 turnovers, 0.8 blocks, makes 4.8 of 8 field goals (60%) and 2.9 of 5 free throws (58%).

7. Dan Langhi, 6-11, 200, PF/SF, Vanderbilt

A good outside shooting power forward prospect for the Lakers though he is deficient in size and is not a banger down low. At first thought to be a late 1st round selection he is slipping and may end up moving into the 2nd round.

Dan Langhi is a senior at Vanderbilt where he plays power forward. Though he is tall he may lack the strength to play power forward in the NBA, though his skills may allow him to play at small forward. He is an excellent scorer averaging 22.1 points per game on 48% shooting, not a good rebounder he still manages 6 per game and he can play passable defense.

A really impressive outside shooter where he has good moves to get open and can regularly hit three pointers at a 40% average. He can be a really explosive scorer having 5 games this season at 30 points or more. He can also get hot at three-point range and has hit 6 of 9 in one game this season. He unfortunately is pretty much limited to the perimeter game, he lacks any power moves and has not shown any kind of post up game. Not a great ballhandler he at least keeps his turnovers fairly low at 1.8 per game.

He is not a shot blocker and has trouble defending bigger players down low. He is a smart player though and can play passable defense. He is not a good rebounder but gives it good effort and his height allows him to pull in a fair number.

He had poor games against LSU and Wake Forest and there is a big question as to whether he can make it as power forward or small forward in the NBA, his skills falling between the two and not being perfect for either. He may still be a late 1st round pick but it is more and more likely that he will slip into the 2nd round.

His averages per game are 34.4 minutes, 22.1 points, 6 rebounds, 0.4 steals, 0.3 blocks, 0.8 assists, 1.8 turnovers, 1.9 fouls, makes 7.4 of 15.5 field goals (48%), 1.9 of 4.8 three pointers (40%) and 5.4 of 6.2 free throws (87%).

8. Malik Allen, 6-10, 245, PF/C, Villanova

A solid but not outstanding talent, he may never be a star but is likely to have a long if unspectacular NBA career. He has the possibility of making the 1st round but seems to be more likely to go in the 2nd. I don't know if I would take him as the Lakers 1st round pick but if he was still there in the 2nd I would grab him.

Malik Allen is senior at Villanova, where he played both center and power forward. He has a good body and the strength is there to play some center and he has enough speed and face up ability to play power forward. He is a good scorer with 14.3 point per game on 51% shooting, sound rebounder averaging 7.5 per game, and knows his limitations and plays within them.

He has a nice shooting touch and can hit a face up jumper out to 15 feet. He has developed more of a post game this year but it is still a little deficient. He mainly relies on backing his opponent into the paint and making a turnaround jumper, he has this down pretty good he even draws double teams at times. I don;'t think it will work as well in the NBA where the competition will be just as strong. In transition he can some times be lazy and does not always run the floor or get himself in good scoring position. He is a good free throw shooter for a big man averaging 70%.

Though he is not a good leaper he is a very good shot blocker averaging 1.9 per game. On rebounding he is a real banger and does well but often does not block out on the defensive end. He plays good defense but is not a great man-on-man defender.

He ended the season with a poor game against Kent. He is not the pick of a draft rich with big men and if a lot of underclassmen come out he may not make it to the NBA at all. Most years he might have been a late 1st round pick but this year he looks to be a 2nd rounder.

His averages per game are 33.6 minutes, 14.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1 assist, 2.4 fouls, 0.7 steals, 2.3 turnovers, 1.9 blocks, makes 5.6 of 10.9 field goals (51%) and 3.1 of 4.4 free throws (70%).


The Lakers biggest need after power forward and back-up center is for a big guard/swingman. Ron Harper wanted to retire before he came to the Lakers and may retire at the end of this season if he fells his job of training Kobe is done. Brian Shaw has played well in the same role but he is 34 and won't be around too many more years. It would seem that if they Lakers feel they have solved there big man problem they may use their pick for a replacement big guard. As I see it the candidate would have the following qualities:

OFFENSE: Be a patient shooter who will take high percentage shots. A high college three point field goal percentage is a must and more important than the number of points scored. Be able to take advantage of opportunities to drive to the basket. Be a good free thrower.

DEFENSE: Strong defensive player with the ability to guard both smaller faster players and larger players on switches. Stay home on defense and does not get out of position going for steals and blocks. Be a good rebounder and aggressive going after loose balls.

GENERAL: Good passer/ball handler who is unselfish and has the ability to find open teammates, averages at least 2 assist per game and has an assist to turnover ratio above 1. Strong to be able to guard larger players on switches, and fast to guard the smaller ones. Be around 6' 6" 200 lbs or bigger and have a lot of hustle.

1. Chris Carrawell, 6-6, 220, G/F, Duke

I really like this guy. Some think him between positions, but that should not matter to the Lakers with their need for big guards in their system. There is great disagreement where he will go in the draft, some have him a mid to late 1st rounder, others a late 2nd rounder if he makes it at all. If the Lakers did not have such a need for a big man he would be a great 29th pick and if he is still around in the 2nd round he will be the steal of the draft.

Chris Carrawell is a senior at Duke, a true swingman he has the skills and size to play both the shooting guard or small forward position in the NBA. An outstanding athlete with exceptional ballhandling skills, he has even played at point guard in college. He is an all around player who does a good job on both offense and defense. And, it does not hurt that he comes out of one of the best basketball programs in the NCAA.

He is a steady shooter from beyond the arc and had a streak of 27 games with hitting at least one three pointer in a game, though he prefers to shoot his jumper from mid ranges where he is more accurate. He is good at driving to the basket with a very good first step and the ability to finish. He shows good shot selection and is good at scoring in transition. In the post he can score with a nice hook shot or by ducking low and driving past his defender. He moves well without the ball, has the ability to shoot off the dribble and is a fairly good free thrower at 78%.

He is an above average ballhandler and passer, who averages 3.2 assists per game with an excellent assist to turnover ratio of 1.6. He is a good rebounder for his size and is not afraid of contact below the boards. On defense his quick feet and long reach make him an excellent defender able to guard fast point guards to larger forwards. He is a good shot blocker and rarely gets out of position searching for blocks or steals.

During his early years at Duke he was overshadowed by several players now playing in the NBA. This year he has started to shine in his own right, while still remaining an integral part of one of the best teams in the NBA. Four years at Duke served him well, he improved his shooting and ballhandling and has become a well polished player with good fundamentals.

His averages per game are 35.6 minutes, 17 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.6 fouls, 0.9 steals, 2 turnovers, 1.1 blocks, makes 6 of 12.4 filed goals (48%), 0.8 of 2.2 three pointers (36%) and 4.1 of 5.2 free throws (78%).

2. Corey Hightower, 6-7, 183, G/F, Indian Hills C.C.

I think this is the best player the Lakers are likely to get with the 29th overall pick in the guard category, I have never seen him play, but what I hear he is the perfect specimen to become the Lakers second guard in the backcourt with Kobe.

Corey Hightower is a sophomore at Indian Hills Community College, he has the size to play small forward in the NBA and also has the driving, passing, ballhandling, vision and play-making skills of a point guard, he averaged 4.4 assists per game. He is an outstanding scorer with 22.6 point per game on 48% shooting and making 82 three- pointers at 42%. He is also a good rebounding guard with 5.8 rebounds per game.

He has NBA three-point range on his jumper and is a real high-fly act finishing at the basket. He can create his own shot easily because of his superior athletic ability. He can break away from defenders and finish with either hand at the basket with dunks. The only real weakness in his offense is his mid-range pull-up jumper. For a guy who can score so easily he his very unselfish and enjoys making shots for teammates. He is quick and sure in passing out of double-teams. He has excellent point guard skills for a player his size and can lead breaks or with his great handles drive and kick to teammates much like a smaller point guard. he also draws many trips to the line be beating his defender, where he is proficient at draining the freebie.

He has all the physical ability to be an excellent defender, but sadly does not show any signs of having been taught the fundamentals of defense. He can block shots and has great hands going after steals but just does not stay in front of his man. But, then the same could be said of Kobe at his age, so I feel confident a season or two will show him to be capable of playing very good defense. On rebounding he does well chasing after balls, but does not block-out, I expect he could really be an outstanding rebounding guard if he learns some rebounding fundamentals on top of his natural abilities.

Hightower was thinking of going pro out of Mt. Zion Christian Academy like his teammate Tracy McGrady. He could not meet academic requirements to get into a Division I school so he went to the elite Indian Hills C.C., where he helped them to a NJCAA Championship his freshman year, being named MVP of the tournament. He did well at the Chicago Pre-Draft though he may have hurt his stock by staying too under control and not showcasing his outstanding athletic abilities. He is projected anywhere from mid-first round to early second round.

His averages per game are 22.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.8 steals, 1.1 blocks, 4.4 assists, 3.6 turnovers, makes 7.7 of 16 field goals (48%), 2.6 of 6.3 three pointers (42%) and 4.5 of 6.1 free throws (75%).

3. Terrance Roberson, 6-7, 215, G/F, Fresno State

Hidden behind Courtney Alexander at Fresno State this guy could be the one of the steals of the draft if he is not discovered at the pre-draft camps and goes in the 2nd round. He would be the perfect third guard for the Lakers triangle offense.

Terrance Roberson is a senior at Fresno State where he has played mostly at small forward. Of note is that he missed only four games in his college career. He has the speed, size, shooting and ballhandling abilities to be a swingman in the NBA.

He is a good jump shooter with a smooth stroke and good mechanics, which should allow him to develop three point range in the NBA. In closer he has good elevation and can score with a fadeaway turnaround jumper. He can drive from the perimeter through an open lane, but has trouble in traffic. He is an above average free thrower averaging 84% for the season, a good indicator of his potential ability as a shooter in the NBA.

Very unselfish with the ball and a good passer he has had some double digit assist games and averages 4.1 per game. He has had some high turnover games, the worst against the pressing defense of Wisconsin where he had eight, he still has a fairly decent assist to turnover ration of 1.3. He is an adequate rebounder averaging 4.9 for the season. He is not much of a shot blocker, manages the occasionally steal and plays adequate defense.

He ended the season with some strong games, even in the loss to Wisconsin, aside from the turnovers. He came to the attention of pro scouts when Courtney Alexander was out for six games early in the season, Roberson did a good job leading the team and picked up his production. He has not fallen off much from that performance and might just impress scouts enough to work himself into the 1st round, though he is more likely to go early in the 2nd.

His averages per game are 33.5 minutes, 16.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 2.3 fouls, 1.2 steals, 3.1 turnovers, 0.4 blocks, makes 5.5 of 12.9 filed goals (43%), 2.7 of 7.3 three pointers (37%) and 2.7 of 3.2 free throws (84%).

4. Nate Johnson, 6-7, 215, G/F, Louisville 

A player with solid fundamentals who could fill the Lakers need for a big guard. Not the kind of talent teams look for in the 1st round but he has NBA talent and would be an excellent 2nd round pick.

Nate Johnson is a senior at Louisville and has the body and athleticism to make it in the NBA. He is an excellent shooter with a 44% three point shooting percentage. He is also a good ballhandler and a decent rebounder though he could use a little more polish on his defensive skills. He can also be an explosive scorer with a 35 point game this season.

He is an excellent stand still shooter from three point range, though his shot is still not fully perfected. When he perfects his shot he could become one of the NBA deadliest three point shooters. He has a good first step and can make his own shots. He has a good pull-up jumper from mid range and is a very accurate shooter off the dribble. He can work in traffic, is a good finisher and has the leaping ability to get tips and put backs around the basket. On the down side he does not have much of a post game, needs to improve his free throws and can be streaky.

He has good ballhandling skills with both hands and plays the floor well. He knows how to pass the ball to open teammates with 3.1 assists per game and an assist to turnover ratio of 1.2. He is good at crashing the boards and averages 5.4 rebounds a game. He is good at steals, but sometimes chases them which leads to break downs on defense, he would benefit from staying at home a little more. Though not a shot blocker he can and does a pretty good job on defense.

Johnson has a well developed offense but could use a little more polish on the rest of his game. He had some physical and attitude problems early in college but these seems to be behind him. Overall he has good potential and should turn out to be a good 2nd round pick.

His averages per game are 30.8 minutes, 13.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.9 fouls, 1.9 steals, 2.6 turnovers, 0.7 blocks, makes 5.6 of 11.7 filed goals (48%), 0.7 of 1.6 three pointers (44%) and 2 of 2.9 free throws (69%).

My Selection

Corey Hightower, 6-7, 183, G/F, Indian Hills C.C.

If he is available he could be perfect, though more will depend on his interview with the Lakers. High intelligence is very important to running the Lakers offensive and defensive schemes. If Hightower's academic troubles seem deep seated expect the Lakers to pass on him regardless of his physical talent.

Craig Simpson - Usenet Draft Commissioner
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