If you’re a Lakers fan, we apologize. For everything. Like you, we’ve been trying to find the silver lining in what has been a historically bad season. First, Julius Randle broke his leg. Then, Kobe got hurt. Then Swaggy P. Then the losses just kept piling up. Then Byron Scott started saying things to the media. Then he said more things.
But it’s always darkest just before the dawn, and somewhere along the line it all started to look like cosmic intervention. Certainly, the Steve Nash trade has been an unmitigated catastrophe as far as basketball is concerned, and up to now, it appeared as if it would have serious long-term implications for the franchise as well.
The Lakers traded a 2015 top five protected pick to the Phoenix Suns as part of the Nash deal in the first place, which the Suns then traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in a complicated three-team deal that brought Brandon Knight to Phoenix at the trade deadline in February.
The caveat is that if the Lakers end up picking in the top five of this summer’s draft lottery, they get to keep the pick, i.e. all those losses might turn out in their favor. They moved a little closer to that goal Sunday after losing to the Dallas Mavericks, which helped them clinch the fourth worst record in the NBA this season. That means they have an 82.8 percent chance of securing a top five pick this summer.
But as that number suggests, there’s still a slight chance they fall out of the top five at the NBA Draft Lottery on May 19. Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com explained today that in the past five years, two teams that finished with the fourth worst records actually did drop out of the top five.
“Recent history suggests there is still some cause for worry. In the past five years, two teams (2010 Warriors and 2011 Wizards) that had a pre-lottery position of fourth dropped to sixth.
Although that happened recently, it hasn’t happened too much overall.
Since the weighted lottery system that resembles what’s being used today was introduced in 1994, only three times — the 2001 Grizzlies, in addition to the Warriors and Wizards — in 21 years (14.3 percent) has the team with the fourth-best odds to win the lottery dropped down to sixth.
The Lakers will also have a 37.9 percent chance of vaulting into the top three this year, and an 11.9 percent chance at landing the top overall pick.
For the record, the team with the fourth-best odds has twice won the lottery — the 2012 Pelicans (Anthony Davis) and 1994 Bucks (Glenn Robinson).”
Assuming the Lakers do, in fact, retain their pick, they could potentially land a future franchise cornerstone in Jahlil Okafor, Willie Cauley-Stein, Karl Anthony-Towns, or Myles Turner. Paired with a healthy Julius Randle and a promising young combo guard in Jordan Clarkson, the Lakers have a lot to be excited about, regardless of whether Kobe Bryant ever returns to be a productive player for the team.