Memorable Laker rookies and their impact
The Los Angeles Lakers drafted point guard D’Angelo Russell in this year’s draft with hopes that he will become a great player for the organization for years to come.
Russell was chosen by the Lakers with the number two overall pick in the draft. The Lakers were expected by most to take Duke Center Jahlil Okafor as he was regarded by many experts to be the most NBA ready player in the draft and the most likely player to help the Lakers right away.
The organization selected Russell and the pick brought about many questions concerning the Lakers backcourt and their plan for Russell, Jordan Clarkson, and Kobe Bryant moving forward.
After a seemingly disappointing summer league for the young point guard, the Lakers were rumored to be involved in trade talks with the Denver Nuggets for disgruntled point guard Ty Lawson. Lawson ultimately was traded to Houston on July 19th, but the fact that the Lakers were interested sends a signal that maybe management and the coaching staff are reluctant to start Russell at point guard in his rookie season.
Here is a list of past high profile Laker rookies, where they were drafted, and their contributions in their first season in the purple and gold:
Magic Johnson – selected #1 overall in the 1979 NBA Draft
In the ‘78-‘79 season, the Los Angeles Lakers finished third in the Pacific Division with a 47-35 record. The team eventually lost in the Semifinals to the Seattle Supersonics, who went on to win the title that year. The Lakers, who watched all time Laker great Gail Goodrich leave to the New Orleans Jazz via free agency three years prior, were given New Orleans’s first round pick in 1979 as compensation for signing Goodrich, which turned out to be the number one pick. The Lakers drafted the 6-foot-9 inch guard out of Michigan State. Johnson played 77 games in his rookie season (games started was not a statistic until the ‘81-‘82 season), playing 36.3 minutes per game. He averaged 18 points per game, seven assists, eight rebounds and two steals per game, and was named to the NBA All-Rookie First team. He was also named the NBA All Star starting point guard. The Lakers increased their win total to 60 games and went on to win the title, with Johnson having one of the most memorable Finals performances in NBA history. His game six performance, in which Johnson started at center in place of the injured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, was listed as the number two greatest individual Finals performance in history.
James Worthy – selected #1 overall in the 1982 NBA Draft
The Lakers are the first and only team to receive the number one pick in the draft following a season in which that same team won the championship, and they did it in 1983 when they drafted James Worthy number one overall. Worthy only started one game out of 77 in his first year, and his season was cut short due to a broken leg he suffered in April that year. He shot a Lakers rookie record .597 percent from the field and averaged 13 points and five rebounds per game while serving as a back up to Laker legend and crowd favorite, Jamaal Wilkes. Worthy was named to the NBA All-Rookie First team.
Worthy missed the post season and the Lakers were swept by the Philadelphia 76’ers. Worthy eventually worked himself into in the starting lineup, starting 53 games in the following season and the legend of “Big Game” James began.
Bryon Scott – selected #4 overall in the 1983 NBA Draft
In 1983, the San Diego Clippers drafted guard Byron Scott with the fourth overall pick but traded him to the Los Angeles Lakers for Laker favorite Norm Nixon. Nixon had been at odds with ownership about his role on the team following the drafting of Magic Johnson in ’79. It came to a head after the team was swept in the ’83 Finals by Philadelphia. Nixon was shipped off to the Clippers for Scott, who was younger, tougher, and was a better fit for the ‘Showtime’ era. The trade did not sit very well with the team, coaches and fans but as the season went on, Scott was embraced and became a fan favorite throughout his time with the team. Scott was named to the NBA All-Rookie First team and averaged 10 points per game. He played in 74 games, starting 49 of those as he split time with guard Mike McGee.
Nick Van Exel – selected 37th in the 1994 NBA Draft
Nick Van Exel was a steal for the Los Angeles Lakers at number 37 in the 1994 NBA Draft. The Lakers had signed point guard Sedale Threat in the 1991 off season, to back up Magic Johnson. But after Johnson announced that he had the HIV virus, Threatt was given the starting job for two seasons. Feeling like they needed to get younger and more athletic, the team took Van Exel and he was able to start 80 of 81 games, averaging 13.6 points per game, to go along with 6 assists and one steal per game. Van Exel was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second team.
Eddie Jones – selected #10 in the 1994 NBA Draft
Eddie Jones was drafted by the Lakers in the ’94 NBA draft, after the team finished fifth in the Pacific Division, with a dismal record of 33-49. Jones helped the team get fifteen more wins in his rookie season, starting 58 of 64 games played. Jones averaged 14 points and two steals per game while leading the NBA in steal/ turnover ratio. He placed fourth in Rookie of the Year balloting and made the NBA All-Rookie First team.
Kobe Bryant – selected #13 in the 1996 NBA Draft
In 1996, after a pre-draft workout that had NBA legend and Lakers General Manager at the time, Jerry West, say was “the best workout I ever saw!” the Lakers traded away their starting center Vlade Divac on draft night to the Charlotte Hornets for Bryant, who was drafted in the number 13 spot. The Lakers were also in the hunt for all-star center Shaquille O’Neal and trading Divac away allowed for the team to clear some cap space. But Wests’ trading of Divac caught a lot of people off guard. O’Neal coming to Los Angeles via free agency was no guarantee and the Lakers finished with a 53-29 record the season before. Not landing O’Neal would have seriously crippled the organization for years to come. Trading for Bryant was also puzzling as the Lakers already had a blossoming young guard in Eddie Jones, who at that time had just completed his first two seasons in the league and was proving to be a force on both ends of the court.
The Lakers did acquire O’Neal and Bryant backed up Jones at the two guard spot for two full seasons. Bryant averaged 7.6 points per game as a rookie in 71 games (starting only 6 games) and was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second team. He averaged 15.4 points per game in his second year, playing in 79 games (starting only 1 game).
In Bryant’s third season, Jones was moved to small forward, making way for Bryant to be the full-time starter at shooting guard. He started all 50 games he played and averaged 19.9 points, five rebounds, and four assists per game.
Andrew Bynum – selected 10th in the 2005 NBA Draft
Andrew Bynum was selected straight out of high school in the 2005 NBA Draft. Bynum was mentored by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Lakers brought him along very slowly. In Bynum’s rookie year, he played in only 46 games, averaging just 1.6 points and 1.7 rebounds.
In his second season, injuries to Chris Mihm and Kwame Brown opened the gate for Bynum, who played all 82 games and started 53 for the team. Bynum averaged 8 points per game, six rebounds and 1.6 blocks.
Julius Randle – selected 7th in the 2014 NBA Draft
Julius Randle was taken number 7 by the Lakers in the 2014 draft. Randle was expected to compete with forwards Ed Davis, Carlos Boozer, and Ryan Kelly for the power forward starting position but a broken leg fourteen minutes into the season cost him his rookie year.
Tayrance Allen covers the Los Angeles Lakers/ NBA for MFST, you can follow him on Twitter (@Twigganomics) and FaceBook/Instagram (@TwiggNATION)https://www.myfantasysportstalk.com/memorable-laker-rookies-impact/https://i0.wp.com/www.myfantasysportstalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/051315-43-NBA-Earvin-Magic-Johnson-Jr-OB-PI.vresize.1200.675.high_.60.jpg?fit=1024%2C576&ssl=1https://i0.wp.com/www.myfantasysportstalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/051315-43-NBA-Earvin-Magic-Johnson-Jr-OB-PI.vresize.1200.675.high_.60.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1AnalysisBasketballLA LakersNBAPacific DivisionRecent Posts#Kobe Bryant,andrew bynum,Byron Scott,eddie jones,james worthy,L.A. Lakers,LA Lakers,laker rookies,Lakers,lakers roster,los angeles basketball,Los Angeles Lakers,Magic Johnson,nba all-rookie team,NBA Draft,nick van exelThe Los Angeles Lakers drafted point guard D'Angelo Russell in this year's draft with hopes that he will become a great player for the organization for years to come. Russell was chosen by the Lakers with the number two overall pick in the draft. The Lakers were expected by most...Tayrance AllenTayrance Allenrapture_90802@hotmail.comContributorTayrance “Twigg” Allen is a writer, poet, and avid fisherman hailing from Long Beach, Ca. A broadcast “swiss army knife” that loves to do stand up, interviews, voice over, and who has an undying passion for his Lakers and Dodgers. You can usually find him at Staples Center, behind the Dodger dugout at Chavez Ravine, or on his quest to catch a fish in every state.MyFantasySportsTalk