The Lakers Top Five Second Round Draft Picks: Fan's Analysis

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In the upcoming 2012 NBA draft my beloved Los Angeles Lakers hold exactly one draft pick:

And it's dead last.

That's right, the Lakers one shot at building through the draft consists of the last overall selection - number 60. The Lakers will be pinning their hopes on Mr. Irrelevant.

While it is extremely difficult to even find role players in the second round of the NBA draft, the Lakers have hit some home runs late in the draft before.

Since the NBA introduced the draft lottery in 1985, here is my analysis of the top five Lakers second round draft picks who have gone on to have the best NBA careers (data here):

#5 - Ronny Turiaf, PF, Drafted 37th Overall in 2005

Career Stats: 375 G's, 5.2 PTS, 3.8 REB, 1.5 APG, 1.4 BPG, 53% FG, 14.2 PER

Ronny Turiaf is a prototypical role player who will bring energy, physicality, rebounding, and shot blocking off the bench. Turiaf spent his first three NBA seasons in with the Lakers. His best season in Los Angeles was 2008 when he appeared in 78 games (including 21 starts) and averaged 6.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks.

After leaving Los Angeles Turiaf spent time with the Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks, and Washington Wizards before joining the Miami Heat for their 2012 NBA title.

#4 - Luke Walton, F, Drafted 32nd Overall in 2003

Career Stats: 514 G's, 4.8 PPG, 2.8 REB, 2.2 AST, 43% FG, 11.7 PER

Luke Walton spent more than eight years with the Lakers before being traded to the Houston Rockets during the 2012 season. Walton was a role player on the 2009 and 2010 back-to-back championship Lakers teams.

Luke Walton showed his versatility and potential in 2007 when he started all 60 of the games he played and averaged 11.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, and an impressive 4.3 assists per game. Amazingly, only eight other players reached the exclusive 11-5-4 threshold that season, putting Luke Walton in the same company as Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, a healthy Tracy McGrady and other All-Stars (the incredible supporting data is here).

#3 - Ruben Patterson, F, Drafted 31st Overall in 1998

Career Stats: 649 G's, 10.7 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.8 APG, 1.2 SPG, 52% FG, 17.1 PER

The explosively volatile Ruben Patterson played only one season (1999) with the Lakers, appearing in just 22 games in limited minutes. Patterson left Tinseltown for Seattle as a free agent the following year and managed to immediately crack the Super Sonics' starting lineup.

After two productive seasons in Seattle in which he averaged 11.6 points and 13.0 points, respectively, Patterson joined the Portland Trailblazers and became part of the Lakers-Blazers heated rivalry for the next four seasons.

#2 - Marc Gasol, C, Drafted 48th Overall in 2007

Career Stats: 297 G's, 13.1 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 2.4 APG, 53% FG, 1.5 BPG, 17.8 PER

While Marc Gasol never suited up for the Lakers, his selection shows quality players can drop late into the second round. Marc Gasol was used in the trade between the Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies to bring Marc's older brother, Pau, to the Lakers. Pau Gasol became a key piece in the Lakers 2009 and 2010 titles. Marc Gasol has emerged as one of the best centers in the league and was voted an All-Star in 2012.

#1 - Nick Van Exel, PG, Drafted 37th Overall in 1993

Career Stats: 880 G's, 14.4 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 6.6 APG, 41% FG, 15.8 PER

Ah, Nick the Quick. Few things delighted me as much during Van Exel's time with the Lakers between 1994 and 1998 as watching Van Exel hit a big 3-pointer on the road then "lowering the roof" to silence the crowd. Loved it. Just watch this to see Nicky V's swagger.

Van Exel was voted an All-Star in 1998 as a Laker. Van Exel's best season came in 2002 when he averaged 18.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 6.6 assists as a member of the Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks. My Laker-hater friends despised Nick Van Exel as much as I liked him as the Lakers turned a late draft pick into an All-Star.

True, Marc Gasol will likely have a better career than Nick Van Exel in the long run, but Van Exel was a memorable Laker. He wore the purple and gold. And I'm a homer. So it's Nicky V at number one, baby!

Andrew Sweat is a die-hard Lakers fan. For more from this author, visit Andrew's archive or check these out articles:

Could Kobe Bryant vs. Andrew Bynum Become the Next Kobe vs. Shaq?

Top Five Lakers Playoff Moments in the Kobe Era

Kobe Bryant's Top-5 Most Ridiculous Box Scores

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