The Los Angeles Lakers will have a new look in 2015-2016, with the addition of three incoming rookies. On Thursday, general manager Mitch Kupchak drafted three players, with the No. 2, No. 27 and No. 34 selections, as the storied franchise seeks to overcome a season in which they finished with the second worst record in the Western Conference.
Things could be dramatically improved for Byron Scott. Entering his second season as head coach, Scott should have a healthy Kobe Bryant and Julius Randle, as well as a prominent free agent with the Lakers' heavy cap space. Some of the names that could be headed to L.A. include LaMarcus Aldridge, Greg Monroe, Rajon Rondo or Goran Dragic. The Lakers will also have the services of promising guard Jordan Clarkson, along with veteran swingman Nick Young and power forward Jordan Hill.
But the incoming rookies might be the most intriguing. Here's a look at the three players who were recently added to the Lakers roster.
There were thoughts the Lakers would use the No. 2 pick on a packaged trade for DeMarcus Cousins, but the Sacramento Kings wanted veterans, and there didn't seem to be a third team interested in facilitating a deal. Despite not having a true center, the Lakers chose to pass on Duke's Jahlil Okafor, who was even considered a solid option at No. 1 overall.
Instead, the Lakers went with Russell, an exceptional passer, and effortless scorer who lit up the Big Ten in 2014-2015. The 19-year-old was an effective playmaker in college, and knocked down shots from all over the court. But Russell also has a very loose style that may come across as disinterest, and he doesn't have great athleticism. That may not matter, because the intangibles are there: he knows how to create his own shot, he has great court vision and has a good attitude with a strong interest in improving. Russell seems destined to average better than 20 points per game, which is crucial to the Lakers' future, with Bryant's retirement looming. Russell and Clarkson could be ready to form one of the better young backcourts in the NBA.
Larry Nance Jr.
The Lakers' decision to draft Nance was one of the biggest surprises of the draft. The forward from Wyoming was considered to be a late second-round pick, and may have even been in danger of not being drafted at all, yet the Lakers took him with the No. 27 pick they received from the Houston Rockets in the Jeremy Lin trade. Nance also made headlines for an inflammatory Twitter posting in 2012 about Bryant, but the two have reportedly cleared the air about the incident.
In four years at the University of Wyoming, Nance didn't put up big stats and even suffered a torn ACL in his junior year. But at 6'9 and 235 pounds and with a long wingspan, he has a good build and the Lakers were impressed with his work ethic, basketball IQ and athleticism. Nance could prove to be a solid defender and hard-nosed inside presence like Carl Landry or Draymond Green. Still, it's difficult to understand why the Lakers didn't trade down or use their second-round pick to get him.
This was another curious draft decision at No. 34. It seemed like the Lakers could have drafted a player with a higher ceiling, and disregarded their draft position to select a specialized player.
Listed at 6'7, Brown is an athletic swingman, who averaged 14.6 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists in his senior year at Stanford. The Lakers like Brown's shooting ability, as he averaged 44.1 percent from beyond the arc in 2014-2015. Scouts have been quick to praise Brown's ability to run the floor and love his character. He will likely play in the D-League next season, unless he really impresses in summer league and preseason.