As the Lakers count down to the Kobe Bryant era ending next month, their sights have turned towards the future.

Assuming they hold the 2nd worst record when the NBA season ends, their chances for keeping the top three pick are good. With Bryant in the stands at the NCAA West Regional, it was a glimpse of what’s next as he interacted with Buddy Hield and watched Brandon Ingram.

If the Lakers are fortunate enough to land the #1 pick, Ben Simmons isn’t necessarily a lock at the top spot anymore. Simmons’ team LSU didn’t qualify for the NCAA Tournament and questions about his work ethic have surfaced recently.

In the meantime Ingram and Hield have shined in the postseason so if the #1 pick scenario poses itself, what should the Lakers do?

Phenom: Ben Simmons is a freak. Compared to Blake Griffin, his upside is limitless. Simmons’ jump shot needs work, but his raw talent is unquestioned. Not considered an alpha-male personality he was actually D’Angelo Russell’s high school teammate. Eager to pass as much as he is to shoot/rebound, his unselfish attitude could be fresh air to an iso-heavy Lakers squad. His natural position is the four which is log jammed by Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr., but having interchangeable power forwards isn’t a bad thing (see Golden State as an example).

Fit: The Lakers biggest holes for the past two seasons have been at the three and five spot. If they can acquire a solid small forward in the draft, they can focus their free agency efforts on landing a star center in the league. Enter Brandon Ingram. Built like Kevin Durant, his wiry frame comes intact with a 7’4″ wingspan. Ingram already has the tools to defend, pass and create his own shot which is hard to teach. Landing Ingram would potentially lock up the three spot for years to come and with small ball dominating the league, a solid wing is needed to compete as an elite team.

Apologies to Buddy Hield, but for this discussion he falls outside the range of the #1 pick. Of course if the Lakers land the #2 or #3 pick the decision may be made for them.

Yet last offseason they surprised us by vaulting to #2.

Landing the #1 pick would be a nice problem to have.

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