4 Modern Two-Way Centers Lakers Could Select With #17 Pick In Draft

7 min readJun 5, 2024

Looking to upgrade starters and role players rather than chasing a third superstar and realizing teams aren’t valuing picks in this draft, the Lakers would be smart to use the #17 pick to draft a modern two-way center.

The modern two-way center the Lakers need is a big man who can be a difference maker at both ends of the court, who can score, defend, and rebound the basketball outside the arc, in the paint, and at the rim.
Anybody watching the NBA playoffs knows that today’s NBA prototype big is a tall, long, and fast player whose size, length, speed, and athleticism bullies opposing players and shrinks the size of the basketball court.

While the 2024 NBA draft is considered to be one of the weakest in years, it ironically is stocked with four big men projected to be drafted between #12 and #25 who would be great fits as modern two-way centers for the Lakers.
With a draft day deal to trade for a third superstar looking unlikely, the Lakers should view the #17 pick in the draft as a unique opportunity to fill one of three main needs by drafting a young modern two-way center.

The Dallas Mavericks are in the NBA Finals partly due to their decision to tank last summer so they could draft 7-foot rookie center sensation Dereck Lively, who started and was selected to second-team All-NBA Rookie Team.
The Lakers have hopefully learned they need to spend resources to find quality backup for superstar Anthony Davis, both to limit AD’s wear-and-tear and minutes as well as provide insurance against any possible injury.

This is the second straight season the Lakers had the #17 pick in the draft. Last season, they chose guard Jalen Hood-Schifino, passing on better prospects like Jaime Jaquez, Brandin Podziemski, and Cam Whitmore.
Hood-Schifino was a disappointment as the #17 pick in the draft, which has historically included quality NBA star players like Donte DiVincenzo, Jrue Holiday, Trey Murphy III, Dennis Schroder, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker.

Since there also aren’t any obvious affordable modern center solutions in free agency, the chance to add the 17th best player in even this draft to fill a position of exceptional need is an opportunity the Lakers cannot let pass.
Unless a superstar suddenly appears on the market and demands to be traded to L.A., the Lakers best option will be to upgrade the starters next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis with an elite modern two-way center.

Here are four elite modern two-way center prospects who would be great fits on the Lakers either starting alongside Anthony Davis in a two-bigs lineup and/or coming off the bench to back up AD when he needs rest.

1. DaRon Holmes


DaRon Holmes, 6' 10" w 7' 1" wingspan, 235 lbs, 21-yrs old
20.4/8.5/2.6/2.1/0.9 while shooting 54.4/38.6/671.3%

NBA Comparison: NAZ REID

DaRon Holmes fits the rangy, long, athletic big man mold that’s sweeping the league these playoffs and is especially intriguing right now because of rumors he’s been promised a first round pick by an unknown NBA team.

Holmes has been rising on many mock draft boards with comparisons to Naz Reid as a mobile big who can score and defend at all three levels. DaRon’s an explosive leaper and elite shot blocker who’s quick off his feet.
His 3-point shooting took a huge leap from his first two years which is worrisome since his free throw shooting did not. The other concern about Holmes is the mediocre level of competition he faced playing at Dayton.

Holmes may be the smartest of the four modern center prospects. He’s got a great engine, great hands, always hustles, always makes the right play. There are several drafts that have him being drafted before the other three.
Holmes’ big strength may be his switchability. Of the four centers, he is the best at switching out and defending smaller players on the perimeter. That’s something that sets him apart defensively from the other candidates.

DaRon Holmes may be relatively unknown but could end up being the best of the four modern two-way center candidates the Lakers are considering because of his explosive leaping, elite athleticism, and high basketball IQ.

2. Kel’el Ware


Kel’el Ware, 7' 0" w 7' 4" wingspan, 242 lbs, 20-yrs old
15.9/9.9/1.5/1.9/0.6 while shooting 58.6/42.5/63.4%


Kel’el Ware could be the perfect modern two-way center for the Lakers as he has the raw physical skills of Myles Turner, a player L.A. has almost traded for several times and who’s the prototype modern two-way center.

Ware’s not the finished product but he’s got freakish athletic potential that gives him a giant upside. He’s going to take longer to develop but could easily have a higher ceiling as a player than the other three older centers.
Ware will need consistent team patience and good player development coaching to reach his potential but he’s already shown the best 3-point shooting stats of the four candidates, although on a small sample size.

Predicting where these four candidates are going to actually be drafted is more of an art than science. There are mock drafts favoring each center. The Ringer’s mock draft, for example, has Ware going as the 17th pick.
But there are reputable mock drafts that have Filipowski going first among the four and other drafts where it’s Edey, Ware, or Holmes going first. There are no drafts were all four of these centers are gone by #17.

If DaRon Holmes isn’t available, the Lakers should not have any qualms turning to Kel’el Ware as he could easily turn out to be the best of the four modern two-way center candidates being considered in the long run.

3. Kyle Filipowski


Kyle Filipowski, 7' 0" w 6' 10" wingspan, 248 lbs, 20-yrs old
16.4/8.3/2.8/1.5/1.1 while shooting 50.3/34.8/64.1%


Kyle Filipowski could be the best fit of the candidates for a modern two-way center because of his proven ability to stretch the floor with his 3-point shooting, protect the rim with shot blocking, and make plays for others.

Filipowski has everything the Lakers want from an immediate backup center or from a potential starter to play alongside Anthony Davis. Kyle has all the legitimate modern two-way center skills the Lakers have coveted.
Of the four modern center candidates, Filipowski is the most versatile. Besides excellent 3-point shooting and solid rim protection, he’s the best playmaker of the group and is capable of playing the point center role.

The Lakers are rightfully focused on optimizing Anthony Davis as the face and future of the franchise. Kyle Filipowski is clearly an excellent fit as a modern two-way center who can both complement and enhance AD.
It’s no secret that Anthony Davis prefers to play the four rather than the five, that the Lakers are a better when playing two bigs, or that the league is transitioning to a bigger, longer, and more physical version of basketball.

If DaRon Holmes and Kel’el Ware are not available, the Lakers should pick Kyle Filipowski at #17 because he’s the most ready, polished, versatile, and well-rounded of the four center candidates and great fit for Anthony Davis.

4. Zach Edey


Zach Edey, 7' 4" w 7' 10" wingspan, 300 lbs, 22-yrs old
25.2/12.2/2.0/2.2/0.3 while shooting 62.3/50.0/71.1%


Choosing Zach Edey with their #17 pick would be a high-risk-high-reward move by the Lakers due to questions about his ability to defend in space and not be played off the floor by teams targeting him in pick-and-rolls.

On the positive side, however, Edey’s elite size, length, and physicality could be difference-makers as few teams have personnel to defend a player of his stature. He can almost dunk and block shots standing flat footed.
The biggest issue about Edey is teams will game plan how to force him off the court. The NBA trend today is the now possible dream of a positionless fivesome of tall, long, fast, and athletic players who can switch everything.

While Edey only made one out of two attempted 3-point shots last season, he did shoot 71.1% on an of 11.2 free throw attempts per game and showed promising ability to stretch the court with threes at the draft combine.
His ability to draw fouls and make 8 free throws per game also fits perfectly into the Lakers overall game strategy. They want to dominate points-in-the-paint and free-throws-made and Zach Edey fits that strategy perfectly.

If the win-now Lakers want to double down on size and length at both ends of the court, then they could draft 7' 4" center Zach Edey with the #17 pick to rack up points in the paint and protect the rim as their backup center.

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Lakers fanatic since 1971 when team traded for Wilt Chamberlain. Founder, editor, and publisher of Lakerholics.com, a community for smart informed Lakers fans.