NBA mock drafts are a yearly ritual. But the only buzz you hear surrounding this year's draft are crickets, giving everyone more reason to mock the draft than actually make one (unless we're talking about Jimmer Fredette).
Talk surrounding the NBA primarily centers on a collective bargaining agreement that expires in nine days. The uncertainty surrounding the 2011-2012 season prompted 41 players to withdraw their names from the draft. And in the case of the Lakers, any chance of the front office "blowing up this team" has a probability of nearly zero considering that their four second-round picks at Nos. 41, 46, 56 and 58 (unless of course the Lakers fall into David Kahn's trap in trading Pau Gasol to Minnesota, but plenty of reports indicate that would require them being held at gunpoint).
The Lakers' past draft history indicates, however, that the players they select at least have some chance to stay on the team's roster. Six of the 13 players the Lakers selected in the second round since 2003 currently played in the NBA last season. Below is a look at how those draft picks fared.
Luke Walton (drafted No. 32 in 2003 from University of Arizona)
The mere mention of his name creates mob-like hysteria for one very simple reason. Walton's 11.4 points per game on 47.4% shooting in the 2006-07 season truly indicated an average player playing with an average team. But it somehow convinced General Manager Mitch Kupchak to sign Walton to a six-year, $30-million contract.
The long-term deal has hurt the Lakers because Walton's extensive injury history kept him sidelined for 17 games in the 2008-09 season and all but 29 games in the 2009-10 season. Even with Walton at full strength, however, his value in understanding the triangle and being a good teammate nowhere near compensated for his lack of athleticism, poor shooting percentage and below-par defense.
Walton's long-term deal also has hurt the Lakers because it significantly sapped them from making moves that could've bolstered the roster. Walton's defense may be suspect, but his contract easily swatted down potential moves, such as the Lakers acquiring a backup center to help Pau Gasol absorb Andrew Bynum's injury last season, the team trading away Sasha Vujacic to the New Jersey Nets for Joe Smithand a $4-million cash profit, and the team's tightening finances in the 2010 off-season to the likes of Phil Jackson, Derek Fisher, Steve Blake, and Matt Barnes.
The damage is far from over, with Walton still with two years remaining on his $11.48-million contract. But lost in this hysteria involves this reality: It's not Walton's fault the Lakers signed him to the deal. Point that finger at the front office.