NBA

Draft Day: Lakers Expect To Take Brandon Ingram

Thursday's NBA Draft provides the Los Angeles Lakers the opportunity to draft a future face of the franchise

With the no. 2 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers select Brandon Ingram. No, NBA commissioner Adam Silver had not yet uttered those words as yet, but any other name leaving the 54-year-old lawyer's mouth would lead to minor meltdowns across LA at this stage.

When the Lakers secured the no. 2 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, the team's choice appeared simple: Ben Simmons of LSU or Ingram of Duke University. Only, the Philadelphia 76ers held the no. 1 pick, so Philly made the choice. The Lakers only had to sit back and take whichever elite talent did not end up on a one-way flight to the City of Brotherly Love.

Considering the high production video the Sixers put out with Simmons' draft workout and the various leaked reports that the team had informed the former LSU Tiger that he would be the no. 1 overall pick, the Lakers taking Ingram became a formality.

Of course, LA worked out Ingram and reporters met with the lanky forward after the team put trained eyes on the kid in the gym. And the charade of working out other players, including Buddy Hield, had to be part of the process. Ultimately, though, Ingram had to be the Lakers' selection.

Then, the arrival and introduction of new Lakers coach Luke Walton on Tuesday led to a gym full of reporters in El Segundo and purple and gold folks in the know interacting. Not surprisingly, multiple reports suggesting that the team had settled on taking Ingram and that only an unforeseen blockbuster trade would disrupt that train from continuing on its tracks emerged shortly after Walton's press conference.

Fortunately, Ingram fits into the Lakers' young core seamlessly as a small forward. Though his frail frame needs to bulk up, the 6-foot 9-inch small forward should join 2014 lottery pick Julius Randle in the front court on opening night. The Lakers' 2015 no. 2 pick in the draft, D'Angelo Russell, expects to play point guard, with 2014 draftee Jordan Clarkson slotting in at shooting guard. Of course, Clarkson's involvement depends on the team's ability to re-sign the combo guard, who is a restricted free agent.

LA's youth dominates the roster. The Lakers have recorded their three worst seasons since moving to Los Angeles, and the NBA Draft has provided the franchise a wealth of young talent as a result of those three painful seasons.

Add in second-year Larry Nance Jr. to the aforementioned list of young Lakers, and the Lakers expect to put out one of the youngest teams in the NBA for the 2016-17 season. If nothing else, the Lakers should have the best team at the 2016 Summer League in Las Vegas, where Ingram should team up with Russell, Nance and Randle for the first time.

LA also has the no. 32 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, and considering the team found Clarkson at no. 46 in 2014 and Nance at no. 27 in 2015, that pick could yet yield a valuable piece to the ongoing rebuild.

Although the suspense may be all but lost for the Lakers' top selection in the 2016 NBA Draft, the process of being drafted still means a great deal to the players themselves. Draft night signifies a graduation from being an amateur to becoming a professional.

For the Lakers, Thursday night represents the potential of drafting the next face of the franchise. Following the retirement of Kobe Bryant, the Lakers enter a new era, and 18-year-old Ingram could well be the new star in LA for the next two decades.

ESPN will televise the 2016 NBA Draft with the first pick scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

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