There is no questioning the influence that Kobe Bryant has on a young player’s development. After 19 seasons and 5 titles, Kobe has a lot of wisdom to impart. At the same time, Bryant has notoriously been hard on rookies, challenging them both on and off the court. (The Lakers’ top pick last year Julius Randle found out early.) The reality is that the Lakers’ decision on draft night will have a big impact on the remainder of Kobe’s career and the beginning of a new prospect’s career.
That being said, GM Mitch Kupchak has openly stated that their decision will not be based on Kobe.
Per the LA Daily News:
The Lakers have debated how they will use their No. 2 pick. Some options include Duke center Jahlil Okafor, Ohio State point guard D’Angelo Russell or point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, who played professionally last season in China. The Lakers also have the 27th and 34th picks. Kupchak argued such a youth infusion “can make it fun for (Bryant) again,” though Kupchak hopes to add more veteran players during free agency.
Which qualities would any of those No. 2 prospects need to flourish under Bryant’s imposing presence?
“We’re not going to pick a player because he can play with Kobe, likes Kobe or dislikes Kobe,” Kupchak told Los Angeles News Group. “We’re going to pick the player that can have the longest and best career.”
After all, Bryant will enter the 2015-16 season in what could become his last of a storied 20-year career. The Lakers hope their No. 2 pick can lead the franchise following Bryant’s eventual retirement. Still, Kupchak argued, “Kobe is going to impart a work ethic in training camp that will be beneficial to any player we bring.”