Wednesday , Jun , 22 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Los Angeles Lakers 2005 Draft Preview

(Sports Network) – Are the Lakers still happy they kept Kobe Bryant instead
of Shaquille O’Neal?

The All-Star Bryant averaged 27.6 points, 5.9 rebounds and 6.0 assists in 66
games for the Lakers, who did not qualify for the postseason for the first
time since 1994. LA, which acquired Caron Butler, Brian Grant and Lamar Odom
from Miami for Shaq last summer, needs to make good use of the 10th overall
pick if it hopes to get back into the postseason.

Butler and the 25-year-old Odom, who averaged 15.2 points and a team-high 10.2
rebounds, were solid for the Lakers, but the 33-year-old Grant appears to be
on the down side of his career. Butler, who is also 25, and Odom give the
Lakers a decent starting duo at forward. However don’t be shocked if
LA explores the possibility of dealing Butler, who posted 15.5 points and
grabbed 5.8 boards per game in 77 contests, or Odom in the offseason.

The rest of the Lakers roster is not very impressive. Point guard Chucky
Atkins is serviceable, while forwards Brian Cook, Chris Mihm, and Devean
George are all role players.

Head coach Phil Jackson, who returned to the club after a one-year absence,
would be thrilled if the Lakers can draft a player that can make an immediate
impact. The Lakers could find themselves back in the postseason in 2005-06
if they are able to get Jackson a player who can take some pressure off of
Bryant on the offensive end of the floor. With the 10th overall pick, LA
could be eyeing Oklahoma State’s Joey Graham, who would fit in great with
the Lakers, or Connecticut’s Charlie Villanueva.

Key Player(s): Chucky Atkins (Guard), Kobe Bryant (Guard), Caron Butler
(Forward), Brian Cook (forward), Devean George (Forward), Chris Mihm
(Center/Forward), Lamar Odom (Forward).

Team Needs: Rebounding, a low-post scorer and a point guard.

Draft picks: 1st round (10th overall), 2nd round (37th overall), 2nd round
(39th overall).