The Los Angeles Lakers are in the coveted position of choosing either Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram, depending on which player the Philadelphia 76ers decide to pass on. As of now, it appears increasingly likely that the player still on the board at number two will be Ingram. Whether or not Ingram is going to be a good fit on the Lakers has already been discussed. But if you haven’t heard, yes he is a great fit. In fact, he may even have been the pick if the Lakers got to choose between him and Simmons. With that being said, I will now zero in on the Lakers less talked about selection at number 32. Being the second pick of the second round, there is usually still good talent left on the board at this spot giving the Lakers an excellent opportunity to add another building block for the future. Somewhat ironically, new Lakers head coach Luke Walton was actually selected by the Lakers with the number 32 pick in the 2003 draft according to basketballinsiders. In addition to Walton, Rashard Lewis was also drafted with the 32nd overall pick as well as the numerous other great players to be drafted even later in the second round. This selection should not be overlooked as there is always a few good NBA players that will be selected in this range. Here are three potential prospects the Lakers should consider drafting with this pick:
1. PF Ben Bentil: 6’8” 229 lbs. (Providence Friars)
Ben Bentil is a big, strong power forward who is an excellent shooter and scorer for his size that can run the floor effectively. This past season at Providence, Bentil recorded 21.1 points and 7.7 rebounds per game on 32.9% from three and 46.2% from the field. Bentil’s great shooting touch away from the basket for such a big player is what would make him an appealing pick for the Lakers. Walton will be looking to spread the floor with multiple shooters and Bentil would go a long way towards accomplishing this. Bentil is a prototypical small-ball power forward that is a threat to score from anywhere on the floor. Additionally, he has decent footwork on the block to be a solid post scorer, but his height prevents him from being a regular threat on the block. Bentil has a very similar prospect profile to Paul Millsap minus the rebounding. Bentil struggles on the glass as he recorded an underwhelming 12.4% rebound percentage this season at Providence despite being the only big man who played big minutes for the Friars. While Bentil does not have the shot blocking capabilities of a rim protector and has been noted as a subpar defender in some scouting reports, he actually recorded a decent defensive rating of 99.8 points per 100 possessions. For comparison, when Millsap was on the floor, the Hawks only surrendered 96 points per 100 possessions—a mark that is better than third team all NBA defensive player Jimmy Butler (basketball-reference). Bentil’s offensive capabilities combined with his underrated aptitude on the defensive end would be a good fit on a Lakers team that is in need of floor spacers and defensive contributors.
2. PF Juan Hernangomez: 6’9” 225 lbs. (Spain)
Juan Hernangomez is a player built in a similar offensive mold as Bentil in that he is a solid athlete and a good shooter from behind the arc. However, Hernangomez has a superior three-point stroke to the Providence star, propelling him up draft boards late in the process. As a result, Hernangomez is much less likely to be still on the board at 32, but if he was, the Spaniard would be a good fit for the Lakers. This year while playing in Spain, Hernangomez has operated as a prototypical stretch four, averaging 9.7 points per game while shooting 52.1% from the field and 35.8% from long distance. The Spaniard’s ability to stretch the floor is his biggest asset. Hernangomez’s above average athleticism paired with a good motor has allowed him to average almost six rebounds per game this season, but he needs to add a lot of strength in order to be an effective rebounder in the NBA. Hernangomez’s lanky physique combined with his abilities on the offensive end reminds me of current Bulls power forward Nikola Mirotic. Both guys are not much more than capable shooters that can stretch the floor, but in the current NBA landscape that values the three-point shot more than ever, this ability is highly coveted. Hernangomez would be a great fit in Walton’s offense as a player that can shoot from everywhere on the floor and even use a pump fake to get to the rim, albeit in a far more limited capacity in comparison to his shooting capabilities. In fact, he has averaged 3.3 free throw attempts per game, a solid mark for a player that is not known for getting to the rim. One of the biggest benefits of the Lakers potentially drafting Hernangomez is the ability to stash him in Spain for at least a season. In the past, the front office has voiced a hesitancy to add multiple rookies to the roster. Hernangomez would allow the Lakers to keep him in Spain, allowing him to earn far more minutes, gaining valuable experience that would likely not be replicated in the D-League. Over time, Hernangomez could develop into a solid stretch four that would fit very well in Walton’s ball-movement oriented offense. In today’s NBA landscape, Hernangomez’s skillset could become very valuable for the Lakers if he is selected at number 32.
3. SF Malcolm Brogdon: 6’5” 223 lbs. (Virginia)
Malcolm Brogdon is a player with a limited ceiling but has a very high floor and the potential to become a valuable member of the rotation. This past season at UVA, Brogdon put up 18.2 points per game while shooting 45.7% from the field and 39.1% from three. However, offense is unlikely to be the side of the ball where Brogdon makes his biggest impact in the NBA. Named as ACC Defensive Player of the Year in his junior and senior seasons, Brogdon is a tenacious and physical defender. The small forward is very strong in all aspects of his defensive game, and despite some limitations athletically, he more than makes up for it with a very high basketball IQ. He also has a ridiculous 6’11” wingspan that allows him to adequately contest the shots of much taller players. Despite all the positives he brings, Brogdon is pretty much the finished product at 23 years old. His age and lack of athleticism prevent the small forward from becoming much more than a 3 and D role player, but at 32 overall the Lakers could do much worse. If the purple and gold were to draft Brogdon, it would likely signal the end for 2015 second round pick Anthony Brown who also has a similar skillset to Brogdon.
In terms of pro comparisons, DeMarre Carroll has a similar profile to the UVA star. Although Carroll is a couple inches taller than Brogdon, both players play good physical defense, are not excellent athletes, and have a deft shooting touch from three. Obviously, Carroll is a very valuable player thanks to his excellent three and D abilities, but if Brogdon can work hard to develop his shooting and defense, Carroll is a reasonable ceiling for him.
Of the three players, Bentil likely has the highest ceiling, but he also may have the biggest bust potential. He still needs to work on his three-point stroke, and at 6’8” without great rebounding skills, he is a little bit of a tweener between small forward and power forward. However, he has the opportunity to become a player in a very similar mold to Paul Millsap—one of the best power forwards in the NBA. For a second round pick that is a bit of a wild card, the Lakers could do much worse than drafting a very talented, high upside player in Ben Bentil.