The Lakers have historically done very well in the draft, taking many players that ended up in as All-Stars and Hall-of-Famers. Because the team had done so well in the Kobe Bryant era, I had to look back a little farther than usual in history to find some draft misses because the team hasn’t had a high draft pick for a long time. The five biggest mistakes of the Lakers are:
5. NBA Draft 1992
The Lakers took Anthony Peeler with the 15th pick this year. You might be thinking “Who is that guy?” which is what I thought too. Peeler averaged 9.7 points over his career and was known as a great three-point shooter.
He hit 38% of his long-range shots over the course of his career and is still the Timberwolves franchise leader in three-point field goals made. Peeler’s best season saw him scoring 14.5 points per game. Over the course of his career, Peeler had several off-court issues that may have caused him to not have as great a career as he could have.
Honorable Mention: Doug Christie
Draft Steal – Latrell Sprewell #24
The Lakers should have taken Sprewell with this pick. While Sprewell had a lot of behavioral issues on and off the court during his time in the league, he was a much better player than Peeler. Sprewell was a five-time All-Star. In just his second year in the league in 1994, he was voted to the All-NBA First team as well as the All-Defensive Second Team.
Sprewell averaged 18.3 points and 4 assists per game over his career while averaging 19.7 points during the playoffs. His best scoring season came in 1996-97 when he averaged 24.2 points and 6.3 assists per game. Sprewell started 868 of the 913 games he played over his career.
Ultimately, Sprewell became a much better player than Peeler, and would have helped solved the post-Magic Johnson retirement problems a lot better than Peeler did.
4. NBA Draft 2005
The Lakers took Andrew Bynum with the 10th pick this year. Bynum became a two-time champion with the team in 2009 and 2010. He made the All-Star team in 2012 as well as the All-NBA Second Team the same year. He averaged 11.5 points and 7.7 rebounds in his career over 418 games played. His best season in 2012 saw averages of 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per game.
Honorable Mentions: David Lee, Nate Robinson, Gerald Green
Steal: Monta Ellis #40
The team should have picked Danny Granger in this draft, who went #17. Granger has one All-Star appearance and won the most improved player in 2009. He has career averages of 17 points and 5 rebounds per game. In 2009 he averaged a career high 26 points per game. While Bynum played well for the Lakers, injuries derailed his career quickly. Granger would have provided a lot of good wing play for the team for several years to help out Kobe Bryant.
3. NBA Draft 1981
The Lakers took Mike McGee with the 19th pick this year. McGee won two championships with the Showtime-Lakers. He averaged 9 points per game over his career, and only averaged over 10 a game once in the five seasons he spent with the Lakers. He also never averaged over 20 minutes a game while playing for the Lakers.
Honorable Mention: Danny Ainge
Steal: Danny Ainge #31
The Lakers should have taken Larry Nance, who went #20. Nance became a three-time All-Star as well as a two-time All-Defensive Second Team and a one-time All-Defensive First team member. He also won the dunk contest in 1984. Nance has his #22 jersey retired by the Cavaliers. He averaged 17 points and 8 rebounds per game over his career, while having highs of 22.5 points and 9.9 rebounds in a single season.
Nance averaged 26 points per game in the 1993 playoffs, leading the Cavs. He played in 920 career games. Nance obviously had a better career than McGee, just by the fact that many people born past 1990 have never heard of McGee. Nance is the person who should have been picked.
2. NBA Draft 2006
The Lakers took Jordan Farmar with the 26th pick this year. Farmer was a good backup point guard for the team, helping them to two championships. He has averaged 7.7 points per game over his career and played in over 500 games. Farmar only has two seasons in which he averaged over 10 points per game. He has never been more than a decent backup point guard in the league.
Honorable Mention: PJ Tucker, Steve Novak
Draft Steal: Paul Millsap #47
The team should have taken Paul Millsap, who was a late second-round pick. Millsap has had a much better career than Farmar. He has been a three-time All-Star, and made the All-Defensive second team once. Millsap has career averages of 14 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. He has also averaged over 10 points per game in each of the past nine seasons. Millsap is a much better player than Farmar, and should have been taken instead.
1. NBA Draft 1979
I went all the way back to the 70’s looking for draft mistakes by this team, and it just so happened that there was one in the same year they took one of the best players to ever play the game. Everyone knows who they took with the first pick this year, Magic Johnson, but not many people know who they took with the 14th pick this year. Brad Holland was that man.
He only lasted three years in the NBA and averaged just 3.2 points and 7.4 minutes per game in 93 games played. After leaving the NBA, he became a coach and was named WCC Coach of the Year twice, in 1999 and 2000.
Honorable Mentions: James Donaldson, Mark Eaton
Steal: Mark Eaton #107
The Lakers should have taken Bill Laimbeer, who went 65th. Laimbeer ended up becoming a defensive force while playing for the Pistons and a centerpiece of the “Bad Boys” team. He won two championships with them and became a four-time All-Star. Laimbeer led the league in rebounding in 1986 and is also the Pistons franchise leader in rebounds.
The Pistons have also retired his #40 jersey. Laimbeer averaged 12.7 points and 9.7 rebounds over his career and had seven straight seasons averaging a double-double. Laimbeer had a much better career than Brad Holland, and would have complimented the makeup of what would become the Showtime-Lakers.