It's been a tough few years for Lakers fans. They haven't made the playoffs since 2012/13 and, in that year, they were swept by the Spurs in the first round. With Kobe winding down his career, the Lakers went for broke one too many times and found that they didn't have the ability to rebuild as quickly as they wanted.
Well, here's the good news Lakers fans; you've had some high draft picks recently. As the Lakers have struggled over the last few years, they've had some lottery selections and are hoping that those players will be their championship winning core of the future.
As you look through this list, you'll notice that the first entry is from the 1993 NBA Draft. If you're confused as to how a list of the Lakers' last 15 first round picks starts in the early 90s, it's because the Lakers have traded away their first round pick on numerous occasions and it's mostly led to success, as they've won five NBA Championships in the 2000s.
With that in mind, let's redraft the last 15 first round draft picks of the Los Angeles Lakers!
* We decided to skip the 2016 NBA Draft as it's a little too soon to decide if Brandon Ingram was a good choice for them!
15 1993 - Sam Cassell
Original Pick: George Lynch - 12th Overall
George Lynch was a decent NBAer, but wasn't really deserving of being picked 12th overall. He averaged 6.6 PPG for his career and lasted 12 seasons in the NBA as a role player.
One player who would be deserving of a higher pick would be Sam Cassell. Sam I Am went 24th overall to the Houston Rockets where he spend the first three years of his career.
He'd break out in his third year, before moving to Phoenix, Dallas, New Jersey and Milwaukee over the next couple of years. He'd also end up in Minnesota, Los Angeles (with the Clippers) and Boston before calling it a career. Regardless of where he played, Cassell was a premier point guard who averaged 15.7 PPG and 6.0 APG.
14 1994 - Eddie Jones
Original Pick: Eddie Jones, 10th Overall
We considered selecting Jalen Rose here, but despite having greater name value, Eddie Jones' had a stronger career. He played one season longer and averaged 0.5 PPG more than Rose throughout his illustrious career.
Before Kobe came to town, Eddie Jones was the Lakers' marquee player, making the All-Star team in two of four full seasons in Los Angeles. He then moved to Charlotte where he kept up his All-Star play, making the All-Star team in his first season there and averaging 20.1 PPG. While he never managed to win an NBA Championship in Los Angeles, as he was traded before the Lakers went on a run, he was still a solid NBAer and one the Lakers would select again.
13 1996 - Derek Fisher
Original Pick: Derek Fisher, 24th Overall
Even if a more talented player had been selected after Derek Fisher in 1996, we wouldn't have changed this pick. Luckily for us, it was an especially easy choice as no one selected after Fisher averaged more then 9.4 PPG.
Derek Fisher was a major part of the Lakers in the 2000s, winning five rings with the team and being the starting point guard for four of those seasons. He had the luxury of distributing to players like Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal and Pau Gasol, but that shouldn't make you overlook his importance to the team. Fisher brought leadership, toughness and clutch shots, making him one of the most beloved Lakers of all-time.
12 1998 - Rashard Lewis
Original Pick: Sam Jacobson - 26th Overall
Raise your hand if you remember Sam Jacobson. No one? Well, he played three seasons in the NBA in a grand total of 68 games. During that time, he scored a total of 283 points, which Steph Curry can get in about four games.
Instead, the Lakers could've selected Rashard Lewis, who went six picks later. Lewis was an All-Star with both the SuperSonics and the Magic, scoring 20+ PPG in his last three seasons in Seattle. Later in his career, he'd become more of a role player, winning an NBA Championship in 2012/13 with the Miami Heat.
11 1999 - Manu Ginobili
Original Pick: Devean George - 23rd Overall
Devean George was actually a solid role player for the Lakers, stepping into the starting lineup when they needed him and playing good defense when called upon. However, his impact, despite him winning three Championship rings, can't be compared to the ultimate sixth man, Manu Ginobili.
Ginobili is a classic Spurs' value pick, being taken 57th overall, with the second last pick of the draft. He's only started 349 of 923 games, but he's always on the court when it matters most in the final few minutes of the game. A member of the Spurs' big three, along with Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, Ginobili has four Championship rings and has made two All-Star games. He was also named as the Sixth Man of the Year in 2007/08.
10 2000 - Michael Redd
Original Pick: Mark Madsen - 29th Overall
We were tempted to leave Mark Madsen here, just so that we wouldn't be robbed of his incredible dance moves during a Lakers' Championship parade, but it just wasn't enough. Madsen was little more than a glorified cheerleader during his time in Los Angeles, averaging 2.6 PPG in 11.3 MPG. Apart from his awesome dance after the Lakers won the Championship, he offered very little.
Instead, the Lakers get the best player in a terrible draft with Michael Redd, who went 43rd overall to Milwaukee. His career was unfortunately marred by injuries, but he still managed to make an All-Star team and score over 25+ PPG in two different seasons.
9 2002 - Carlos Boozer
Original Pick: Chris Jefferies - 27th Overall
If your first round pick only plays two seasons in the NBA, you know you've got a draft failure on your hands. That was the case with Chris Jefferies, who the Lakers immediately traded to the Toronto Raptors on draft day. He struggled north of the border and moved to Chicago in his second year. He wasn't much better in The Windy City and quickly found himself out of the league.
Seven picks later, the Cleveland Cavaliers found a gem with Carlos Boozer out of Duke. He made an immediate impact in the league and he averaged double-digit points in every year of his career. He made two All-Star games in 2007 and 2008, when he averaged 20+ PPG for the Utah Jazz. Boozer eventually found his was to LA, playing his final season with the team.
8 2003 - Leandro Barbosa
Original Pick: Brian Cook - 24th Overall
The Lakers went with Brian Cook in 2003 and he didn't turn out to be much of anything in the NBA. When looking for replacement picks, there were three good options, who went 27th, 28th, and 29th respectively in Kendrick Perkins, Leandro Barbosa, and Josh Howard. All three players were solid NBAers and would've added to the Laker teams that would win back to back titles in 2009/10.
In the end, we decided on Barbosa, as he's been the most consistent of the bunch and still playing at a high level today. Though he's never made an All-Star team, he's averaged 18.1 PPG in a season and is an NBA Champion, after winning with Golden State in 2014/15.
7 2004 - Trevor Ariza
Original Pick: Sasha Vujacic - 27th Overall
In 2004, the Lakes picked Sasha Vujacic out of Slovenia in the first round and hoped he'd develop into a solid scorer for then. Sadly, he never panned out, topping out at 8.8 PPG in 2007/08, though he did manage to win two rings with them.
Instead, we'll chose a player who ended up playing with Vujacic on one of those two championship teams in 2008/09. Trevor Ariza was initially selected 43rd overall by the Knicks and made his way to Los Angeles for a year and a half, winning an NBA Championship with them. He's still playing in the NBA today and is a solid starter for the Houston Rockets.
6 2005 - Andrew Bynum
Original Pick: Andrew Bynum - 10th Overall
This was a difficult choice for us between Andrew Bynum, their original selection, and Danny Granger, who went 17th overall to the Indiana Pacers. Both of these guys never turned into consistant stars, but they both had times where they looked like mega stars. Even though Granger's peak was a little more impressive than Bynum's, we've decided to stick with Bynum for one simple reason: they won two Championship Rings with him. Why would we mess with a winning formula?
During the Lakers' Championship runs in 2009 and 2010, Bynum started 41 out of 46 games and had 7.4 PPG and 5.3 RPG. During the next two years, before the Lakers became a trainwreck, he averaged 15.6 PPG in the playoffs, proving he was a clutch performer. If it wasn't for his chronic knee injures, he could've been one of the best centers in the NBA. Despite not reaching his full potential, we'll leave this pick as is.
5 2006 - Paul Millsap
Original Pick: Jordan Farmar - 26th Overall
The 2006 draft wasn't the best one in NBA history, but there were still a couple of gems that have become bonafide NBA stars. One of those in Paul Millsap, who went 47th overall to Utah in the draft. Millsap didn't hit his stride in the NBA until his third year when he averaged double-digit points for the first time in his career. After moving to Atlanta in 2013, he's become an All-Star caliber player, being named to the All Star game in all three seasons that he's played there.
Their original pick, Jordan Farmar, wasn't terrible, but has been far from a star in the NBA. He's averaged 7.7 PPG and has only started 40 games in his career. If they had the opportunity to choose again, they'd definitely go with Millsap.
4 2007 - Marc Gasol
Original Pick: Javaris Crittenton - 19th Overall
Once you realize that the Lakers chose Javaris Crittenton in this draft, you'll quickly realize that we needed to find a new selection for them. If you don't remember, Crittenton is the guy who brought guns to the locker room as a member of the Wizards, along with Gilbert Arenas, and quickly found himself out of the league. Currently, he's in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter.
Instead, we'll have the Lakers select a player they chose in the second round, Marc Gasol. Taken 48th overall, Marc Gasol never actually played with the Lakers, as he was sent to Memphis in a trade that involved his brother, Pau. In Memphis, Gasol has become one of the best centers in the league, averaging 14.3 PPG and 7.8 RPG.
3 2009 - Danny Green
Original Pick: Toney Douglas - 29th Overall
Poor Toney Douglas never played a single game with the Lakers and we're still replacing him. After being selected 29th overall by the Lakers in 2009, he was quickly moved to the Knicks for a future second round pick and some cash relief. While Douglas hasn't been a terrible player, he's been more of a role player.
On the other hand, Danny Green has been a solid NBAer after being drafted 46th overall by the Cavs. He played a single season in The Land, before moving to the Spurs, where he's achieved plenty of success. He was a major part of their 2014 NBA Championship winning team, starting in all 23 playoff games and averaging 9.3 PPG, while bringing solid defense to the table. Green might not be a star, but he's definitely a valuable piece to have on your team.
2 2014 - Julius Randle
Original Pick: Julius Randle - 7th Overall
For this one, we see no reason to change this pick up just yet. Though Julius Randle got off to a rocky start in the league by breaking his right tibia in the Lakers' season opener back in 2014/15, he came back in 2015/16 in a big way, averaging a double-double with 11.3 PPG and 10.3 RPG. On a pretty terrible Lakers team, Randle was a bright spot, finishing sixth in total rebounds in the league and third in defensive rebounds. He'll be a building block in LA going forward.
If we wanted to to consider other picks, we'd look at Zach Lavine, who has averaged 12.1 PPG or Rodney Hood, who has averaged 12.3 PPG. Despite them scoring a little more than Randle so far, we'll leave this pick the same.
1 2015 - Jahlil Okafor
Original Pick: D'Angelo Russell - 2nd Overall
It's definitely too early for the Lakers to give up on D'Angelo Russell, but it's possible that they might already change their decision on draft day if they had a time-turner (you're welcome, Happy Potter fans). D'Angelo Russell wasn't terrible on the court in his rookie season, averaging 13.2 PPG and 3.3 APG, while playing in 80 games. However, off the court, he was a disaster, as he recorded Nick Young, without him knowing, discussing how he cheated on Iggy Azalea, which somehow got onto the internet. Obviously, that's a huge no-no and Russell was then shunned by his teammates. It'll likely be difficult for his teammates to trust him going forward after that.
To make their lives easier, we'll just go with Jahlil Okafor. who was terrific in the 53 games he played this season, averaging 17.5 PPG and 7.0 RPG. A front-court of Russell, Randle and Okafor could be pretty dominant and give them trade chips for the future. There's even rumors that the Lakers are interested in trading for Okafor, so we'll save them the trouble with this pick.
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