Why the Los Angeles Lakers Late First-Round Pick is Crucial For Their 2021-22 Season

Published 06/24/2021, 6:51 AM EDT
May 25, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) celebrates with teammates against the Phoenix Suns during the first half in game two of the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at Phoenix Suns Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports


An injury-marred season ended for the Los Angeles Lakers earlier this month. After winning the title in the previous season, the Lakers suffered an embarrassing first-round exit this time. And now they have big decisions to make in the off-season.

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Eight players from their 2021-22 season are going to enter free agency, a number could go up to nine if Montrezl Harrell rejects his player option. With the Lakers already paying over $110 million for six players, they need cheaper alternatives. This is where their late first-round pick for the 2021 NBA Draft comes in.

The Lakers traded away a host of picks in the Anthony Davis trade but were able to hold on to their first from the upcoming draft. And now it could be a game changer, since they can add a rookie to help their squad depth.

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Jun 3, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3), forward LeBron James (23) and coach Frank Vogel react in the second half during game six in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs against the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Top rookies who could immediately help the Lakers

The Lakers have LeBron James on the books for two more years following his extension. With him being 36 already, the team is in a win now stage. So they will be aiming to draft players who can immediately become important contributors to the team.

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The best option for them would 22-year-old Corey Kispert from Gonzaga. While some analysts predict him to be a lottery pick, there are others who believe he will be a late first rounder. In his four seasons at Gonzaga, he displayed elite scoring skills, with this shooting ability taking center stage. The Lakers are always in need of shooters because of LeBron, so Kispert fits in perfectly.

Another player who could be a huge asset to the Lakers is Ayo Dosunmu from Illinois. The 21-year-old point guard can play from 1-3 and can do everything on the court. He is a capable passer, reliable shooter, and also a determined defender. The Lakers lack playmaking when LeBron is off the court, so Dosunmu will be a solid pickup for them.

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Finally, Chris Duarte from Oregon is also a player the Lakers could be eyeing. Similar to Kispert, Duarte is also an incredible scorer and shooter. But he is also an excellent defender and Lakers coach Frank Vogel is a top defensive coach. So this union could be perfect.

A common theme about each of them is that they are more mature and experienced, i.e. older than their peers. This is exactly what the Lakers need right now. If they are able to grab any of these three, they will have a great boost for their 2021-22 season roster.

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Aaron Mathew

1664 articles

Aaron Mathew is a sports analyst at EssentiallySports. A graduate in Mass Media from Xavier’s College, Aaron has been a part of EssentiallySports since May 2020 where he covers both NBA and NCAA basketball news, and has also covered NBA 2K. In the past, Aaron has worked at the Sports Desk of Mumbai Mirror.

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