The Lakers started the season as early surprises of the NBA.
They started the season playing decent basketball which had them looking ready for a playoff run. The Lakers were balling. Not until a couple of injuries, however — that and the fact that they’re a bunch of young guys playing together for the first time. The combination of the two led to the Lakers reeling, constantly losing games and blowing leads. They now find themselves near the bottom of the Western Conference, a spot that they have been accustomed to ever since Kobe tore his Achilles.
Should they begin the tank again? Remember, they only keep their pick if it lands within the top-3, otherwise, it goes to the Philadelphia 76ers. They currently sit at the 2nd lottery spot. Is it time for the Lakers to start tanking again? If so, what do they do with it?
Time to start the tank engines.
It might be in the best of interests of Jim Buss and company to start tanking again in hopes to land a top 3 pick in the draft. First of all, it doesn’t hurt to add another young talent to their team. Imagine adding another stud next to D’Angelo, Ingram, and Randle. That would be one good mix of players. As previously mentioned, they currently sit with the 2nd worst record in the NBA. They need a top 3 pick in order to keep that. The storied franchise can set themselves up to land a top 3 pick by tanking “just a little bit.”
Will that automatically mean that they keep the pick? Of course not, they still have to hope the ping-pong balls fall their way. If they keep pace and finish with the 2nd worst record, that would mean they would have a 55.8% chance to keep their top-3 protected pick and a 19.9% chance to win the first overall pick.
Assume that the current draft order stays as is.
That would mean that the Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn Nets) receive the #1 overall pick. Los Angeles would then come up with the #2 overall pick; what would then be their 3rd #2 overall pick in a row. Who would the 16-time champions take with the number 2 overall pick?
If the Lakers luck out and land a top 3 pick, then they would have plenty of options in one deep draft class.
The upcoming draft class is headlined by potential All-Stars, such as Lonzo Ball, Markelle Fultz and others. Should the Lakers receive a top 3 pick, they would have plenty of options. The Lakers could probably draft whoever falls to them. However, here are players that should be looked at closer.
Josh Jackson, G/F Kansas
Josh Jackson is one of the most athletic guys in his draft class. His athleticism allows him to be a great defender, something the Lakers desperately need on their team. His ability to play both wing positions also gives added versatility to an already versatile Lakers team. He needs work on his jump shot, but that’s something he can add to his game as he gains experience. Imagine a Russell-Jackson-Ingram-Randle-Nance lineup. That’s a quick lineup.
Markelle Fultz, G Washington
While the Lakers already have D’Angelo Russell as their point guard, adding another playmaker next to Russell would definitely be welcomed. Russell’s ability to be great off-ball would also make Fultz to the Lakers a smooth pairing. Russell and Fultz would make a very dynamic backcourt for the Los Angeles Lakers. Two stat sheet stuffing guards that can score in many ways? Sounds good to Showtime.
Lonzo Ball, G UCLA
It’s the same case with Fultz. Lonzo’s ability to stuff the stat sheet and play on and off of the ball gives the Lakers more versatility. Lonzo Ball would be able to control the game with the ball in his hands while Russell plays off of the ball and vice versa. Lonzo-DLo, like Fultz-DLo, would be one very exciting backcourt for the Lakers. Especially for a Luke Walton-coached team.
The fit is there as well. Lonzo is from California playing for UCLA. He probably wouldn’t mind playing basketball where he has been all his life. A Lonzo-Russell backcourt has the makings of an All-Star backcourt.
Trade the pick for an All-Star?!
Well, these are the Los Angeles Lakers after all. They’re always known for trying to acquire the big fish in the pond. Trading a very high and valuable draft pick might be enough to land an All-Star. Names that the Lakers might trade for include but are not limited to, Paul George, Jimmy Butler, maybe even Anthony Davis? Paul George might seem like an ideal fit for the Lakers, should they decide to trade for him.
The possibility of trading the pick is always there, especially with a big market team like the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Lakers started strong, then became the Lakers of recent. With the potential to give the pick away to Philly, Los Angeles might just need to tank the rest of the season to ensure more talent can go their way.
*Featured photo credits go to: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times*