The Los Angeles Lakers are without question the most intriguing team to watch heading into the upcoming offseason. Kobe Bryant is set to retire, and the Lakers will need to find a new face of their franchise. Add in the fact that Luke Walton was hired as the new head coach and there are many different stories to follow along with.
Everything will start for the Lakers in the 2016 NBA Draft, where they are expected to have a top-three overall pick.
Looking ahead at the draft, there are a few players in particular that make the most sense for the Lakers. There is no telling which pick the Lakers will end up getting, but it’s never too early to begin looking at the best first round targets for a team.
There are franchises changing players at the top of the draft this offseason. Los Angeles will also have plenty of money to spend when free agency opens up. The future looks very bright for the Lakers, especially if they are able to get one of the top talents in the draft.
All of that being said, which five 2016 NBA Draft prospects would be the best first round targets for the Lakers?
Ben Simmons, Small Forward/Power Forward, LSU Tigers
Obviously, the top player in the draft at this point is LSU forward Ben Simmons, who would be able to slide in and take a franchise face role for the Lakers. He averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game throughout his freshman season with the Tigers. Simmons would be the best fit for the Lakers and could help them get back on the map as a playoff contender quickly.
Brandon Ingram, Small Forward, Duke Blue Devils
Some analysts have Duke small forward Brandon Ingram battling with Simmons to be the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Los Angeles would be very lucky to have a player like Ingram on their roster as well. He scored 17.3 points per game last season to go along with 6.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game and has the potential to be a superstar in the future.
Jaylen Brown, Small Forward, California Golden Bears
Next up on the list is 19-year-old small forward Jaylen Brown from California. He would be able to stick around in his home state, where he scored 14.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game last season with the Golden Bears. Some have Brown dropping down to the No. 5 overall pick in the draft or lower, but the Lakers would be smart to consider him with the No. 3 pick if that’s where they end up.
Buddy Hield, Shooting Guard, Oklahoma Sooners
If the Lakers want to bring in a pure shooter and scorer, Buddy Hield would be the ideal fit for them. That could clutter the back-court if the Lakers choose to re-sign Jordan Clarkson, but Hield has a chance to be a superstar scorer at the NBA level. He scored 25.0 points per game last season with the Sooners, while also chipping in 5.7 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game.
Dragan Bender, Power Forward/Center, International
Los Angeles could also choose to take a bit of a risk on the 7-foot-1 international prospect Dragan Bender. He has a lot of work to do on his body to be able to take the post banging that NBA players will do to him, but he has the talent to develop into a Kristaps Porzingis type of talent. There is no telling what Bender will be when everything is said and done, but he could very well be in consideration.
Expect to see the Lakers take an aggressive stance as the draft draws closer. They know that they cannot afford to miss with this pick and are going to take the best player available.
Who do you think the Los Angeles Lakers should take with their first round pick in the 2016 NBA Draft? Let us know in the comment box below!
[AP Photo/Keith Srakocic]