Busting Brackets

NBA Draft 2024: Zach Edey and Kel'el Ware headline top options for Los Angeles Lakers with the 17th pick

Purdue v Indiana
Purdue v Indiana / Andy Lyons/GettyImages

The Los Angeles Lakers are currently in the middle of a head coaching search, but with the expected ending happening soon, the next step is the NBA Draft, where the Lakers hold the 17th and 55th picks. The Bronny James saga should really pick up on day two of the draft. On day one, Los Angeles is in need of a true center, and there will be options in the first round to choose from. 

Anthony Davis has expressed interest in being used more as a power forward, which is the position he played more often than not during his time in New Orleans. Which brings two key players who have been projected to go in the Lakers range to the forefront. Purdue's Zach Edey and Indiana's Kel'el Ware. 

Edey and Ware headline top options at 17

Standing at 7-foot-0 with a 9-foot-5 standing reach, Kel'el Ware fits seamlessly into what the Los Angeles Lakers are hoping to build moving forward by getting an athletic big who is a true center alongside Anthony Davis.

Ware was the catalyst for the Indiana Hoosiers last season, averaging 15.9 points, 9.9 rebounds, 1.9 blocks, and 1.5 assists. His paint precense is notable, and his impact has improved drastically at being able to space the floor. 

He is one of the best lob targets, with a 36-inch max vertical, and he isn't afraid to shoot the ball if he is open. Ware shot 42.5% from behind the arc. He has a very nice touch and a very nice form; however, he still needs developing, and with the right coaches around him, Ware could turn into a very prominent floor spacing threat with the ability to knock down jumo shots and run rim to rim. 

Zach Edey, on the other hand, would be a very interesting dynamic alongside Davis; however, defensively, it could be one of the most dominant duos in basketball with the size, frame, and the skillsets of both. Davis is already one of the best defensive big men in the league, and adding a 7-foot-4, 300-pound center like Edey would be something many people in Los Angeles would love to see. 

The biggest concerning issue with drafting him is what it would look like on offense. Davis is the centerpiece, and he often needs space to work with inside to be his normal self. Edey would have to improve from a floor spacing aspect, because as dominant as he is with his touch around the rim and using his body to get position, he wouldn't be able to operate like he did at Purdue. You can't clog the paint when you have Anthony Davis looking to operate inside and out. 

Although, you can't deny or deflect Zach Edey's dominance during his collegiate campaign for the Boilermakers. Averaging 25.2 points, 12.2 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per game led him to win player of the year for the second consecutive season, sweeping all six major national player of the year awards. 

Next. Projecting top-5 picks in 2024 NBA Draft. Projecting top-5 picks in 2024 NBA Draft. dark

The Lakers will have the opportunity to really add an impact player with the 17th overall selection, and while center is a positional need, they can explore many different variables that can translate positively to the team entering the 2024–25 NBA season, and Zach Edey and Kel'el Ware headline that exploration.