- Dave McMenamin, ESPN Staff Writer
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While two former No. 1 picks in LeBron James and Tim Duncan dominated and defined the NBA Finals for their respective teams, the series wouldn’t have been what it was without a couple of second-round picks.
Manu Ginobili, selected No. 57 by San Antonio in 1999, was brilliant in Game 5 of the Finals and gave the Spurs a 3-2 series lead by putting up 24 points and 10 assists. Mario Chalmers, who went No. 34 in 2008 to Minnesota before being traded to Miami, came up huge in all three of the Heat’s home wins and averaged 17.7 points in Games 2, 6 and 7 to help the Heat to the title.
In Thursday’s NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers will find themselves looking for a similar impact player in the second round. For the sixth straight year, the Lakers do not have a first round pick.
The Lakers mortgaged their future over the past half decade or so, choosing to part ways with first round picks in deals, in the hopes of staying in the championship hunt year to year. L.A. used first round picks as assets to acquire big-ticket players like Pau Gasol (they sent Memphis first round picks in 2008 and 2010 to get it done) and Steve Nash (they sent Phoenix first rounders in 2013 and 2015), figuring that those picks would land late in the first round anyway if the veterans they brought in performed the way they hoped.
With no first round picks since 2007 and a roster composed of a handful of players that use up the vast majority of the salary cap space, the Lakers have found themselves signing their second-round picks -- who come into the league with non-guaranteed contracts -- with regularity.
Their recent success in the second round has been spotty at best. In 2010, L.A. took Devin Ebanks No. 43 and Derrick Caracter No. 58. Caracter played sparingly in his rookie season before an off-court incident, coupled with an injury, led to his release shortly into his second year with the team. Ebanks showed signs of promise in his first two seasons and even started 12 games in 2011-12 as he showed the versatility to be able to play both small forward and shooting guard, but regressed significantly last season and is most likely finished as a Laker.
In 2011, the Lakers took a pair of guards in Darius Morris at No. 41 and Andrew Goudelock at No. 46 who ended up starting in place of the injured Nash and Kobe Bryant in Game 3 of the Lakers’ first round series against San Antonio this spring. They combined for 44 points. The Lakers are invested in Morris and see his athleticism and on-ball defense as an asset. Goudelock’s future with the team is more uncertain, but L.A. knows how well he can shoot and that could give him another chance in coach Mike D’Antoni’s system, depending on how the rest of the summer’s free agency period shakes out.
In 2012, L.A. used the last pick of the draft, No. 60, on Robert Sacre who quickly became a fan favorite and showed signs of promise as a backup center.
Second-round picks are long shots by nature, however, and the Lakers have had their share that didn't pan out at all. Remember Chinemelu Elonu (selected No. 59 in 2009) or Ater Majok (No. 58 in 2011)? You probably shouldn’t. Neither have come close to putting on a Lakers uniform as they’ve put up feeble numbers playing in second-rate leagues overseas. How about Darius Johnson-Odom? While the Lakers didn’t technically draft Johnson-Odom (Dallas used their No. 55 pick in 2012 on him), they did bend over backwards to acquire him on draft night by paying the Mavericks close to $500,000 for his rights. Johnson-Odom registered all of four rebounds and one assist in four games before being waived in January.
The Lakers find themselves in the long-shot lottery once again this year, hoping that their No. 48 pick will turn out to be a player who can cut it in the league because the team has roster spots that need to be filled and only has the mini mid-level exception (approximately $3.2 million) and veteran minimum contracts available to fill them.
Everyone from Bryant to D’Antoni to general manager Mitch Kupchak has stated that the Lakers need to address length and athleticism this offseason, so that would be at the top of their priority list heading into the draft.
That’s easier said than done when you have to wait for 47 other names to be called before you make your pick. L.A. could simply choose the best available prospect on its draft board when it is finally on the clock for No. 48.
Regardless, here are 10 names that could fit the bill:
Archie Goodwin – Kentucky | SG |6-5 | 189
Even after an underwhelming freshman season with the Wildcats, it would be a stretch for Goodwin to be available for the Lakers. But questions about his outside shot and maturity could cause the 18-year-old to drop and Goodwin could end up being a steal.
Colton Iverson - Colorado St. | C | 7-0 | 262
Lakers fans have been clamoring for another Iverson for years, but Colton’s back-to-the-basket big man game is a far cry from Allen’s crossover days. The true 7-footer impressed at the Chicago combine.
Myck Kabongo – Texas | PG | 6-3 | 180
Kabongo’s time in Texas was muddled by some NCAA red tape, but that shouldn’t take away from his talent and what better mentor could a young, Canadian point guard have than Nash?
Kenny Kadji - Miami | PF | 6-10 | 241
He’s long. He’s athletic. And he shot better than 35 percent from 3 in each of his last two seasons in Miami.
Trevor Mbakwe – Minnesota | PF | 6-8 | 236
He could fall into “tweener” status at just 6-8 playing power forward in the league, but Mbakwe is a rugged rebounder in the mold of Luc Mbah a Moute who will bring defense to whichever team drafts him.
Erik Murphy – Florida | PF | 6-10 | 240
Some see him as the best shooter in the draft. He connected on 45 percent of his 3s last season at Florida, and at his size, should be able to get off those shots at the next level (think Steve Novak).
Alexandre Paranhos – Brazil | SF | 6-8 |241
One of the more intriguing prospects, Paranhos is said to have the physical attributes of LeBron James, but could be around late because teams just don’t know much about him.
Andre Roberson - Colorado | SF | 6-7 | 205
Lockdown defender with a 6-11 wingspan and 36-inch vertical that could really give the Lakers’ lackluster perimeter defense some help.
DeShaun Thomas – Ohio St. | SF | 6-7 | 220
Thomas is a scorer who has played in big-time games, but could be available because of questions about finding a natural position in the NBA.
Brandon Triche – Syracuse | PG |6-4 | 210
Triche was brought in for a group workout by the Lakers and thoroughly outperformed Louisville’s Peyton Siva, according to a source. He has an NBA body, but might be considered too redundant with Morris already on the roster.