Report: Lakers Were ‘Very Close’ to Drafting Kristaps Porzingis Over D’Angelo Russell

Justin Benjamin
2 Min Read

The Los Angeles Lakers selected D’Angelo Russell with the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.

However, according to a story from The Athletic, the Lakers were close to drafting international standout Kristaps Porzingis instead.

“While the Lakers were widely expected to draft Jahlil Okafor before they plucked the 19-year-old Russell out of Ohio State, multiple people who were involved in the decision have described the Lakers as being ‘very close’ to drafting Porzingis,” The Athletic reported.

Porzingis was ultimately picked up by the New York Knicks with the No. 4 pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Porzingis and Russell both had lackluster rookie campaigns in the NBA. However, both lottery picks are now two of the brightest young stars in the league.

During the 2017-18 season, Porzingis had his breakout year. He posted a career-best 22.7 points on top of 6.6 boards and 2.4 blocks per game that season.

Unfortunately, a gruesome ACL injury stalled the big man’s progression. The Knicks ended up trading him to the Dallas Mavericks in 2019.

Russell’s tenure with the team that drafted him was even shorter than Porzingis’ was. The Lakers dealt Russell to the Brooklyn Nets back in 2017.

The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 21.1 points, 7.0 assists and 1.2 steals for the Nets during the 2018-19 season. He has since moved to two other teams, as he was acquired by the Golden State Warriors last summer and was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves prior to the February trade deadline.

While the Lakers passed up on the chance to acquire Porzingis in the 2015 draft, they also failed to capitalize on cultivating Russell’s game in Los Angeles.

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Justin’s enormous respect for LeBron James has ignited him to write for the King and Lakers. His all-around analysis and heart for the game has made him a stellar NBA writer and proud staff writer for Lakers Daily.