The Los Angeles Lakers' future is looking bright as ever, with a roster filled with young talent and the No. 2 overall pick for the NBA Draft on Thursday on the way.
The Lakers' rebuild hasn't been pretty, with the franchise hitting win-total lows while under the guidance of head coach Byron Scott. The team has reloaded with Julius Randle, D'Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance, Jr. since the departure of Dwight Howard.
Whomever they pick on Thursday - reports indicate they're leaning toward Lonzo Ball - will be joining a team overflowing with young talent. It may not all be sunshine and roses from the Lakers' perspective, though, which makes this pick all the more important.
There have been whispers throughout the past two seasons about the Lakers' concerns about two of their lottery talents. Russell and Randle were the first two lottery picks the Lakers added into their core, but the franchise reportedly has questions about their maturity and work ethic.
Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report is one of the most connected Lakers writers in the business, covering the team up close for years as a local beat writer before shifting to a more digitally-focused position.
Ding launched an expansive piece on the Lakers' thinking heading into the draft, integrating the recent Paul George and LeBron James rumors to paint as full a picture as possible about what the dream is in Los Angeles. In it, though, he revealed more details about those concerns surrounding Randle and Russell.
"There is still a lot to like about both Russell and Randle as well, but there are also ongoing questions about how well they take criticism, according to team sources. Lakers head coach Luke Walton entered the season asking Russell to be less of a know-it-all and more of a leader for the group.
"He hoped Randle would emulate Draymond Green in using every perceived slight as motivation. Though both players improved their games, neither advanced as far as Walton had hoped. Russell was inconsistent with his professionalism, and Randle often lost messages given to him if they were delivered harshly," Ding wrote.
Those aren't reasons to gut the young core that's been built, but it is the most detailed information that's followed up any report that the Lakers internally have some questions about how two of their core players handle the responsibility of leading LA back to relevance.
Perhaps adding another lottery into the mix, along with the culture change Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka are instilling, will help squelch some of the noise surrounding both Randle and Russell. Winning is also the NBA's greatest cure for these types of issues, and the Lakers are hoping to do more of that starting next season.