The Los Angeles Lakers have traded their way into the 2022 NBA Draft Thursday night. The Lakers acquired the No. 35 overall pick from the Orlando Magic in exchange for a future second-round pick and cash, according to ESPN. The Lakers have been working to get into the draft, per Adrian Wojnarowski, and now they've succeeded. The question is, what will they do with the new draft selection?
Perhaps the Lakers try to use the pick as part of a trade to try and improve the roster. L.A. is tight on assets to build any sort of trade package to get anything valuable in return, but moving into the top of the second round could help in that regard. Maybe the pick could be used as part of a deal for some other team to take on Russell Westbrook, who the Lakers have been keen on moving after one unsuccessful season in purple and gold.
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There is always the possibility the Lakers decide to just draft a player with the pick; there should be some valuable talent early in the second round. But given the tight championship window this team has with an aging LeBron James and Anthony Davis' health always in question, it would make more sense for them to try and use it for another deal.
The Lakers are coming off a season in which they failed to secure even a play-in spot for the playoffs, finishing with a 33-49 record, which finished off back-to-back disappointing years for a team that just won a championship in 2020. The lack of success following the 2020 title led to the firing of head coach Frank Vogel and the hiring of Darvin Ham as his replacement. But a simple switch of head coaches won't be enough to fix things in La La Land. The Lakers need to improve their roster, and while acquiring this second-round pick may not look like much right now, it could possibly be a building block for a trade down the line for the Lakers in the coming weeks.