EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- A few quick thoughts on the Los Angeles Lakers' No. 2 overall pick in the first round.
The pick: D'Angelo Russell, point guard, Ohio State
My take: Bold move. Ever since the Lakers wound up with the No. 2 overall pick on draft lottery night, most everyone figured they would be selecting whichever top center Minnesota didn't take first overall: either Kentucky's Karl Anthony-Towns or Duke's Jahlil Okafor. When Towns, as expected, went first overall, it looked all but certain that Okafor would be next, but the Lakers shocked the basketball landscape. No, the franchise known for having franchise centers didn't select a potential franchise center who was still available. Instead, the Lakers selected a player analytics and analysts alike say might end up being the best overall player in the draft. This pick also indicates that the Lakers are highly confident that they can acquire a big man in free agency, perhaps Kevin Love or LaMarcus Aldridge.
By the numbers: Standing 6-foot-5 and weighing 193 pounds, Russell has a nearly 6-foot-10 wingspan, the 12th-longest wingspan of any point guard measured at the combine. He averaged 19.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game during his freshman season at Ohio State. He had a high usage rate but remained efficient, ranking in the top five in the Big Ten Conference in assist percentage, 3-point percentage and player efficiency rating. He's also 19 years, 127 days old on the day of the draft, making him the seventh-youngest college player in Chad Ford's Top 100.
What it means for the Lakers: The Lakers have a point guard of the future, and, depending on how he develops, a potential superstar in the backcourt. That fact alone will help a franchise that will soon be bidding farewell to its current backcourt star Kobe Bryant. Will Russell be the next Bryant? No one in their right mind would say such a thing or put that kind of pressure on him. But the Lakers are a star-driven franchise in a star-driven town. They need a player who fits a mold, and Russell does.