EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Lakers chose Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell with the second pick in the NBA draft on Thursday, bypassing big man Jahlil Okafor to grab the ball-handling guard with the potential for greatness.
The Lakers had their highest draft choice since 1982 after going 21-61 during the 16-time champion franchise’s worst season. They’ve made just five previous top-two selections in their history, and four turned out to be Hall of Famers.
Russell averaged 19.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists in his only season with the Buckeyes. Los Angeles chose the dynamic guard over Okafor, the Duke big man considered the other top candidate behind top pick Karl-Anthony Towns.
Los Angeles also picks 27th and 34th, providing a chance to restock one of the NBA’s worst rosters.
• The Minnesota Timberwolves selected Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns with the first pick in the NBA draft on Thursday night, the first of three straight freshmen chosen.
The Timberwolves went for the center in their first time owning the No. 1 pick. They can add him to a young roster featuring Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins, who was picked first last year by Cleveland and later dealt to Minnesota in the Kevin Love trade.
The 6-foot-11 Towns averaged 10.3 points and 6.7 rebounds in just 21 minutes per game, as Kentucky used a platoon system in winning its first 38 games and reaching the Final Four.
It was Kentucky’s third No. 1 pick in the last six years, joining Anthony Davis in 2012 and John Wall in 2010. The Wildcats were hoping to have a record seven players picked.
• The Philadelphia 76ers selected Duke center Jahlil Okafor with the third pick of the NBA draft on Thursday night.
Barring a draft night trade, the Sixers will have the 6-foot-11, 270-pound Okafor in a frontcourt already stocked with Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid. Embiid was the No. 3 pick last year and missed the entire season with a broken foot.
Okafor was the 17th All-America pick at Duke under coach Mike Krzyzewski and was also the first freshman in history to be voted player of the year in the Atlantic Coast Conference. He helped lead Duke to a national championship.
The 76ers also are scheduled to have the 35th, 37th, 47th, 58th and 60th overall picks of the draft.
Okafor averaged 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds in his lone season at Duke.
• The New York Knicks selected Latvian forward Kristaps Porzingis with the fourth pick of the NBA draft on Thursday night.
Porzingis averaged 10.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and one block in 33 games for Cajasol Seville in the Spanish League during the 2014-15 season.
He recorded 11.6 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.2 blocks for Cajasol Seville in 16 Eurocup games.
The 19-year old is 6-11, 220 pounds. He had worked out with the Knicks leading up to the draft.
• The Orlando Magic have selected Croatian Mario Hezonja with the fifth pick in the NBA draft.
Orlando entered Thursday’s draft in need of both scoring and a defensive presence on the interior. The Magic are hoping the 6-foot-8, 220-pound Hezonja can eventually provide the scoring punch. The Magic also hold the 51st overall pick.
The 20-year-old Hezonja can either play shooting guard or small forward and has spent the past three years playing for a Spanish club and in the Euroleague. He also has experience playing with Croatia’s national team.
Hezonja is the highest international pick the Magic have made in the draft. Orlando previously selected Spain’s Fran Vasquez 11th overall in 2005.
• The Sacramento Kings have drafted Kentucky center Willie Cauley-Stein with the sixth overall pick.
Vice President Vlade Divac took Cauley-Stein on Thursday night in his first major move since taking over the organization this offseason from departed general manager Pete D’Alessandro.
Cauley-Stein averaged just 7.9 points per game in three seasons at Kentucky but is considered to be an elite defender capable of blocking shots, playing in the post and defending pick and rolls. Cauley-Stein averaged 6.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game in college while shooting 60 percent from the field.
He could form a formidable inside duo with another former Kentucky star in DeMarcus Cousins if the Kings don’t trade Cousins.