Potential NBA Season Cancellation Could Lead to NBA Draft Royal Rumble

(Image/AP Photo/Nuccio DiNuzzo)

With the NBA season in jeopardy, what will happen to the NBA draft process? If a team cannot be named as a champion, can a team be granted the 1st overall pick with games still to be played?

The NBA is in the midst of incredibly uncertain times, with no guarantee of the season continuing and no indication yet that it’s going to end prematurely. It’s currently a wait and see game that we all must play.

For fans of the purple and gold, the league-wide hiatus could not have come at a worse time. Superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis were in frightening form, with James staking his claim for the MVP trophy.

The Los Angeles Lakers team as a whole were beginning to fire on all cylinders and were rounding into playoff mode with a quarter of the season to go. Then COVID-19 strikes, and here we are.

For the record, the NBA and all major sports across the world made the right call in halting their respective seasons. The health and safety of players, staff, owners, arena workers, and the fans are of the utmost importance.

The NBA should be commended for the steps it took as one of the first leagues globally to postpone games and put the safety of others above making profit. With so much uncertainty around the league, fans of the association were waiting to hear about what is going to happen to the season.

We finally got some clarification in which way the league is leaning and it doesn’t look good. Brian Windhorst of ESPN dropped some Woj -evel bombs in a recent appearance on SportsCenter that has caused ripples around the basketball world.

“It’s been a bad week. I think there was optimism about progress a week ago, and some things that have happened this week have turned it south about what could happen. A big factor was what happened in China where they halted the return of their league, and one of the big reasons is because they really believed if they just tested the player’s temperature all the time then it would work, and the Chinese are finding that asymptomatic carriers are causing maybe a second wave in that country. And they have just slammed the brakes on sports.

The talks between the player’s union and the league this week — I’ve talked to both sides of this issue — and it’s clear that the NBA is angling to set up a deal that enables them to shut the season down. They don’t have to do that yet, and the way they’re negotiating they’re leaving themselves an option either way. But they are not having talks about how to restart the league. They are having financial talks about what would happen if the season shuts down, and I think there is a significant amount of pessimism right now.”

For fans of the purple and gold, this is a potential hammer-blow. For a season with so much promise and with a chance to win a Championship, losing the season with no chance of winning a ring could be a hammer-blow for the Lakers short-term aspirations, but if it ensures the health and safety of people and saves lives then it must be done.

With no clear NBA rules or regulations regarding the cancellation of an NBA season, it is up to those in power to make swift and decisive decisions. In order to put forth what is to happen for the rest of the season.

One major NBA event that could be affected majorly is the NBA lottery. With roughly around a quarter of the season left to play, can the league uphold the lottery standings as they stand today?

NBA analysts decide: LeBron and AD or Kawhi and PG?
(Image/Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

With give or take 20 games left in the season and an ability for teams in the lottery to potentially win games, general wisdom would stipulate that if no-one is crowned the NBA Champion, then no-one should be given the greatest odds of receiving the number 1 pick in the 2020 NBA draft.

With the Golden State Warriors currently the worst team in the NBA based on record, should they be guaranteed a larger chance at the top pick?

With superstar Steph Curry back in the line-up for the Warriors before COVID-19 struck, there is a real chance that they could have won more games to finish the season and could have easily played themselves out of the worst record in the league.

So what could the NBA do with the draft lottery if the season were to end today? A fair and potentially interesting way for the league to bring some much needed entertainment to the league would be to give each and every team in the NBA the exact same chance at getting the number 1 overall pick.

With the 2020 NBA Draft set to be one of the weaker drafts in recent memory, this could be an extremely interesting way to inject some much needed life into the off-season.

If put to a vote, there is a high likelihood that each team would vote in favor of making this draft a Royal Rumble, “anyone can win it” style event. With only the teams in the top-5 worst teams potentially kicking up a stink about potentially losing their high draft pick.

It sounds like a fair solution to unfair end to a season for so many.

Each and every team with the same chance of winning the lottery. Whether they draft a franchise altering player or have an extremely valuable trade piece.

The NBA is in uncharted waters right now, with no provisions or verbiage in the Collective Bargaining Agreement in regards to what happens if a pandemic halts play. The NBA and the players association will have to decide what is going to happen going forward.

Hopefully a time comes very soon where basketball is back and the game we love is played with the health and safety of everyone involved.


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The Players the Lakers Drafted During the Tanking Years

(Image/Harry How/Getty Images)

Being a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers between 2013 and 2017 was a tough ride. After having years and years of consistent success, driven by the likes of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, the Lakers found themselves in need of a huge rebuild. This was as it became apparent that an aging Bryant and a failed big 3, featuring Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, wasn’t going to bring the Staples Center faithful the success they were used to.

Therefore, the purple and gold had to turn to the draft to try to deliver new talent. Talent that would come under immense scrutiny and talent that would need to deliver quickly.

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The 2013 NBA Draft

In July of 2012, the Lakers acquired Steve Nash and in turn traded away a 2013 1st-round draft pick. This pick, in hindsight, could have landed the Lakers the likes of Rudy Gobert, Tim Hardaway Jr, or Andre Roberson. However, the only pick in the 2013 draft that the Lakers owned was the 48th pick, where Mitch Kupchak selected Duke alumni, Ryan Kelly.

Kelly ended up playing 147 times for the Lakers over the course of 3 seasons, with 59 starts. In that time he averaged 6.5 points a game. Kelly’s most memorable moment was against the Portland Trailblazers, where he caught an inbound pass, faked the hand-off and span to the basket, dunking the ball home and getting the Lakers 1 of only 27 wins that season

Where Is Ryan Kelly Now? 

In 2017, Kelly signed for Real Betis Energia Plus in Spain. He featured for the Spanish outfit 34 times in the 2017-18 campaign, and averaged 13.4 points in 27.8 minutes

Kelly can now be found leading his new team, the Sunrockers Shibuya, of the B League in Japan. A team that was once home to Lakers stalwart and fan cult hero, Robert Sacre.

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(Image/Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

The 2014 NBA Draft

After a dismal 2013-14 campaign, which saw the Lakers finish the season 27-55 and miss out on the playoffs for the first time since 2004, the draft was crucial in moving the franchise forward.

Tipped as being one of the deepest draft classes in some years, the 2014 draft had the likes of Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, and Jabari Parker all waiting to start their NBA careers. The Lakers went into the draft with pick number 7 and worked out a small group of players at their El Segundo training facility. This group included the likes of Zach Lavine, Tyler Ennis, and Noah Vonleh.

When draft night came around, Julius Randle was selected. Mitch Kupchak was quoted as saying: “Randle was higher than 7th on the draft board”. At the time hopes were high for the Power Forward out of Kentucky.

Later in the 2014 draft, Kupchak and his team traded $1.8 million in cash considerations to the Washington Wizards for the 46th pick in the draft. This trade meant that Jordan Clarkson, out of the University of Missouri, would be joining up with the Lakers for the upcoming campaign.

Where Is Julius Randle Now?

Julius Randle’s NBA career started off in the worst possible way when he broke his right tibia 14 minutes into game 1 of the 2014-15 season. That, unfortunately, was the last we saw of him in his rookie campaign. This was the beginning of what was an excruciating season for Laker fans as the team went 21-61.

However, throughout the subsequent 3 seasons as a Laker, Randle went on to be somewhat of a beacon of light in a dismal period. In what went on to be his final season, Randle averaged 16 points, 8 rebounds, and was many fans’ player of the season.

Unfortunately, the Lakers were forced to let Randle become an unrestricted free-agent at the end of his rookie deal, to make way for Lebron James. Randle went onto sign a 2-year, $18 million deal, with a player option, with the New Orleans Pelicans. The following season, with the Pelicans, he averaged a career-high 21.4 points, and rejected his player option at the end of the 2018-19 campaign, making him an unrestricted free agent.

Randle is now plying his trade with the New York Knicks. Randle and the Knicks currently find themselves 2nd bottom of the Eastern Conference, with a record of 7-24.

LeBron James and Jordan Clarkson
(Image/Cavaliers Nation)

Where Is Jordan Clarkson Now?

Jordan Clarkson’s time with the Lakers started slowly, with him making several trips down to the D-League, with affiliate team the Los Angeles D-Fenders. After making several good impressions during his first season as a Laker, Clarkson then went on to start 79 games in his Sophomore season, averaging 15.5 points.

Clarkson’s efficiency led the Lakers to sign him to a 4-year, $50 million contract in the summer of 2016. He made his mark coming off the bench in the 2016 campaign behind Nick Young and D’Angelo Russell, and was eventually traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in February 2018.

Clarkson went onto play some good minutes in Cleveland’s playoff run in 2018. He even went on to gain valuable minutes in the 2 NBA Finals road games, against the Golden State Warriors.

Most recently, on December 24 2019, Clarkson was traded to the Utah Jazz, in exchange for Dante Exum, and 2 second-round picks.

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(Image/Elsa Garrison/Getty Images)

The 2015 NBA Draft

In hindsight,  the 2015 draft turned out to include some very special players. The Lakers went into it with the 2nd overall pick, and selected D’Angelo Russell from the Ohio State University.

Before we delve into this further, lets spare a moment for the talent that the Lakers could have taken. The likes of; Kristapz Porzingis, Devin Booker, and Myles Turner. Wow.

Going into the draft, the consensus pick at the number 2 spot was that of Jahlil Okafor. Although, after several successful workouts, it was Russell’s passing and perimeter shooting that persuaded Mitch Kupchak to take the Ohio State alumni.

The Lakers also held draft picks at number 27 and at number 34, where they selected Power Forward Larry Nance Jr, and Small Forward Anthony Brown.

Going into what was to be Kobe Bryant‘s final NBA season, the Lakers were looking to improve on the previous season, where they had just 21 wins.

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(Image/Noah Graham/Getty Images)

Where Is D’Angelo Russell Now?

D’Angelo Russell went into the 2015-16 campaign with huge expectations on his shoulders. At this point, the only way for a Russell-led Lakers was up. It, unfortunately, got worse for the Lakers as they went 17-65. Thus, recording their worst season ever.

However, Russell himself had a great start to his NBA career, leading the Lakers and all rookies in steals, and becoming the youngest player ever to make 130 shots from behind the arc in a season. This earned him All-Rookie Second-Team honors.

Russell finished his Lakers career in 2017 when he was traded, alongside Timofey Mozgov, to the Brooklyn Nets. This was in exchange for Brook Lopez and the 27th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Russell’s time in Los Angeles was cut short because of team failures, more so than individual errors, and this has since been proven from his time at the Nets, where he excelled.

In July 2019, the Nets sent Russell, as part of a sign-and-trade package, to the Golden State Warriors for Kevin Durant. This season, Russell has gone onto set a career-high in points (52) as a Warrior.

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(Image/Tony Dejak/Associated Press)

Where Is Larry Nance Jr Now?

After staying all 4 years at Wyoming, the son of former NBA player Larry Nance, snuck into the 1st round of the 2015 draft.

Fans hadn’t had much to get excited about for a few seasons and Nance Jr’s crazy hops and highlight-reel dunks provided at least something for the Lakers faithful to watch on House of Highlights. Combine that with some grit and determination, and Nance Jr definitely captured some hearts in California.

However, after only 46 starts over 3 seasons, the former Wyoming Power Forward was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team where his father had made his name. Larry Nance Jr was very happy to be traded back to his home state and has since signed a 4-year, $44.8 million contract to stay with the Cavs.

Anthony Brown reste et Ludovic Beyhurst arrive au Limoges CSP
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Where Is Anthony Brown Now?

Anthony Brown was drafted at pick number 34 in the 2015 Draft. The Lakers could have picked up the likes of Richaun Holmes, or Josh Richardson with this pick. But opted for Brown.

There is no point in hiding the fact that Anthony Brown was a bust for the Lakers. In his 29 games that he played, he averaged 4 points, and was eventually waived in October 2016.

Brown has since had very small stints with the New Orleans Pelicans, the Orlando Magic, the Minnesota Timberwolves, and has had a training contract with the Philadelphia 76ers. All of which have ended in Brown being released.

Brown also spent a single month in Serbia with KK Partizan, before canceling his own contract. He now plays his trade in France with Limoges CS. In the current season, Brown is averaging 13.3 points per game.

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(Image/Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

The 2016 NBA Draft

Off the back of the Lakers’ worst season ever, they once again landed the number 2 spot in the draft. With Ben Simmons, the consensus number 1 pick, the obvious choice for the Lakers was that of Brandon Ingram out of Duke University. After one of the best seasons ever for a freshman at Duke, Ingram was drafted by the purple and gold, and with that, came a whole new weight on his, at the time, small shoulders.

The 2016 Draft also saw the Lakers pick Ivica Zubac with the 32nd pick. Zubac may have come as a surprise to many fans, as a relatively unknown player out of Europe. Especially when the Lakers passed up on the likes of Malcolm Brogdan and Patrick McCaw, to draft Zubac.

After 2 horrific back-to-back seasons, and a hoard of young talent at their disposal, the 2016-17 season was billed as needing to be a turning point for the young Lakers team.

However, with multiple chances in the draft and free agency to improve this team, in February 2017, it was decided that Mitch Kupchak would be relieved of his duties, with Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka taking the front office reigns. Therefore, the 2016 Fraft was the final one for Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss, who was also relieved.

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Where Is Brandon Ingram Now?

Brandon Ingram was only 18-years-old when drafted in 2016, making him the 2nd youngest player in that year’s draft. It was often quoted in the media that he was physically not ready for the toughness of the NBA. During his rookie season he averaged a mere 9.4 points.

Ingram did, however, show glimpses of the player he would eventually go onto grow, and was named in the All-Rookie Second Team. This was a season where the Lakers went 26-56, a slight improvement on the year before.

Ingram then went onto improve massively in seasons 2 and 3 with the Lakers, averaging 16.1 and then 18.3 points, respectively. This form, along with his youth and potential, led the New Orleans Pelicans to make him the key piece in any trade talks that the Lakers would go on to have regarding the generational talent that is Anthony Davis. 

Ingram was eventually traded to the Pelicans in the summer of 2019, alongside a haul of other players, picks, and draft rights for Davis. Since being at the Pelicans, Ingram is averaging a career-high 25.3 points, and at only 22, is being touted as a potential Most Improved Player candidate early in the season.

There are even rumors that the New York Knicks are targeting Ingram as being their next big target in 2020 free agency.

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Where Is Ivica Zubac Now?

After being drafted 32nd, Ivica Zubac went onto start only 23 times in 2-and-a-half seasons with the Lakers. Moving between the G/D League and the Lakers for the best part of his first two seasons, Zubac averaged 7.5 points and 3.7 points, respectively.

However, in the 2018-19 season, Zubac got a lot more playing time, averaging 8.5 points and 4.9 rebounds in 33 games. Rob Pelinka then decided to trade Zubac, alongside Michael Beasley, across town to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for Mike Muscala.

Zubac has gone on to flourish as a Clipper and has been held in high esteem by the Clippers’ media. Averaging 8.9 points and 7.2 rebounds in his 51 games with the franchise, he has become a key part of their depth and will be a key role player come playoff time.

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The 2017 NBA Draft

The draft that will be forever known, for Lakers fans, as the draft of Lavar Ball. No, Lavar wasn’t in the draft but it sure did feel like he was. Prior to the draft, Lavar was ‘speaking into existence’ the idea that his son, Lonzo Ball, would become a Los Angeles Laker.

Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson duly obliged and drafted Ball with the 2nd pick, passing up on Jayson Tatum.

The Lakers also went on to trade for 3 further picks in the draft, picking up Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, and Thomas Bryant in the process. This was the first time that Pelinka had a chance to put his stamp on the roster through the draft and by doing so, he created a very young, talented team going into the 2017-18 season.

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(Image/Tyler Kaufman/AP)

Where Is Lonzo Ball Now?

Injuries. Jump shots. Parents. If Lonzo Ball was to write a memoir of his time at the Lakers this would be the title. His numbers during his rookie campaign were above average, with Ball averaging 10.2 points, 7.2 assists, and 6.9 rebounds. If Ball had been doing this under less scrutiny, in a smaller market, these numbers would have set him up nicely for his second season.

However, there had arguably not been a rookie coming into the league under as much pressure as Lonzo Ball, since the King himself, LeBron James. Therefore, his poor shooting and monotonous public outbursts from his father Lavar, meant that this was an overall disappointing start.

Lonzo Ball then put up lower numbers in his second season, leading to him being packaged into the blockbuster Anthony Davis trade. Having only played 99 of a possible 164 games over his first two seasons, Lonzo Ball has a lot to learn from the game through NBA game-time experience.

In his first 16 games for the Pelicans, Ball is averaging 10.1 points, in fewer minutes than he has ever played. However, recent reports suggest that he is now going to be dropped to the bench in New Orleans.

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Where Is Kyle Kuzma Now?

Kyle Kuzma is the only player to be drafted by the Lakers between the 2013 and 2017 seasons, to still be on the team today. This is some accomplishment, especially as pre the 2017 draft it was touted that Kuzma would be a second-round pick, if not go completely undrafted. However, the Lakers had other ideas, drafting Kuzma as high as number 27.

Kuzma flew out of the gate in the first 20 games of his rookie season, earning him the NBA Rookie of the Month award for October/November. Throughout his rookie season, Kuzma averaged 16.1 points and 6.3 rebounds, earning himself yet another accolade by making the All-Rookie First-Team. The boy from Flint, Michigan was making his name in the bright lights of Los Angeles, in a much improved 35-47 season.

In Kuzma’s second season, this time alongside Lebron James, his numbers again increased to 18.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists. Kuzma was stepping up to the mark and carrying the pressure of 33.1 minutes per game in Los Angeles on his shoulders.

Now in his 3rd season, a season where there is no room for error as the Lakers push for Championship honours, Kuzma has only started 1 game. This is predominantly due to injury and the obvious arrival of Anthony Davis, alongside other veterans. However, the Lakers front office and fanbase expect Kuzma to be a huge part of this title chase, and to even fill into that 3rd-star role. It remains to be seen if, when fit, this will be the case.

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Where Is Josh Hart Now?

Josh Hart came across to the Lakers in a trade on draft night. Hart had spent 4-years at Villanova, meaning that the rookie came into the NBA with a lot of game experience behind him, be that at a collegiate level.

Hart averaged 23.2 minutes for the Lakers in his rookie season, contributing 7.9 points and 4.2 rebounds. However, it was the 2018 Summer League where people really stood up and became aware of the potential Josh Hart had. Crowned Summer League MVP, Hart averaged 24.2 points and 5.2 rebounds, cementing himself into the minds of the Lakers front office.

Hart went on to play 67 games for the Lakers the following season before he was also packaged into the Anthony Davis trade deal. Now with the New Orleans Pelicans, Hart is averaging a career-high 11.5 points and 6 rebounds and is rounding himself into a very nice role player for his team.

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Where Is Thomas Bryant Now?

The final draft pick of the ‘tanking years’ for the Lakers was that of Thomas Bryant. The Lakers traded for the rights of Bryant from the Utah Jazz on draft night.

The Rochester-born center only managed 15 games for the Lakers before being waived. 15 games in which he only averaged 4.8 minutes. In hindsight, there weren’t too many better options on draft night with the 42nd pick. However since, Bryant was picked up by the Washington Wizards and has gone from strength-to-strength.

In the current 2018-19 season, Bryant is obliterating his career highs on what is a relatively poor team. He is posted averages of 13.9 points and 8.5 rebounds, shouldered with an average of 28.4 minutes. At only 22 years of age, Bryant can surely be a very good center in the league. It just was never going to work out for him in Los Angeles.

After all, there is only ever going to be one Bryant in Laker fans’ hearts.

The Conclusion of the Tanking Years

So that wraps up all of the Los Angeles Lakers draft picks through the traumatic tanking years of 2013-2017. Interestingly, as we have seen, the current Lakers roster only contains 1 sole survivor, that of Kyle Kuzma.

The New Orleans Pelicans hold 3 of the Lakers’ drafted players on their roster and they currently hold a 8-23 record. The Knicks and draft pick Julius Randle sit near the bottom of the East with a record of 7-24, and Thomas Bryant’s Wizards sit at 9-20.

Larry Nance Jr’s Cavaliers hold a 6-21 record and highly touted D’Angelo Russell currently holds up the bottom of the West displaying a record of 7-24.

With that being said, the only players, on another roster, with a winning NBA record to be drafted by the Lakers is that of Ivica Zubac who has a 19-7 record with the Los Angeles Clippers, and Jordan Clarkson. Clarkson’s new Utah Jazz team sits 18-12/.

All in all, it looks clear that the Lakers draft picks became key assets in gaining the superstar the Lakers craved, and, that the front office traded them all at the right time when their stock was high.

Lakers Acquire Second Round Pick, Select Horton-Tucker

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As expected, the Los Angeles Lakers jumped into the second round of the 2019 NBA Draft. A previous report from Adrian Wojnarowski and Bobby Marks of ESPN did suggest that this would be the case, as the Lakers looked to add inexpensive talent to the roster, with the ability to exceed the salary cap with minimum contracts.

In the end, the 46th overall pick from the Orlando Magic was the acquisition, in exchange for a 2020 second round pick and cash considerations. The player selected was guard Talen Horton-Tucker, of Iowa State.

Whilst Talen Horton-Tucker only stands at 6-foot-4, he possesses a large frame, weighing 238-pounds, with a 7-foot-1 wingspan. In his only season at Iowa State, Horton-Tucker averaged 11.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.3 steals, through 35 games. At 18-years-old, with a birth date of November 25, 2000, he is the youngest player to come out of college in this year’s draft.

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(Image/Worsom Robinson/The Chicago Sun Times)

Beginnings:

Born in Chicago, Illinois, between first and eighth grade Horton-Tucker attended St Matthias School. From the fourth grade he played on the school’s basketball team. Upon his acceptance into Iowa State years later, his number 5 jersey was retired by the school.

During his high school years, Horton-Tucker attended Simeon Career Academy, where he lead the Wolverines to three-straight City Championships. In his final season, he posted averages of; 20.5 points, 8.7 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.9 steals, and 1.3 blocks. This earned him a four-star recruiting status in ESPN’s rankings.

In October 2017, the promising guard committed to Iowa State, selecting the Cyclones over Illinois and Xavier. During his only season in Iowa, the team went 23-12, 9-9 in the Big 12 Conference. They won the Big 12 Championship, beating Kansas 78-66. This earned Iowa State with a 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament. However, the team went onto lose to the 11 seed Ohio State, 62-59. After his freshman season, Horton-Tucker declared for the 2019 NBA draft.

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Profile:

Despite his age, Talen Horton-Tucker is a unique prospect. You can see why the Lakers jumped at the opportunity to bring him on board.

He has the strength to certainly hold his own in the professional ranks. With an eye-catching 7-foot-1 wingspan, along with 238-pounds in weight, he should be able to stand toe-to-toe, defensively, with the majority of NBA guards. In addition, on the defensive end he can switch between both guard positions and potentially move to the 3 also.

Even though he is a weighty 6-foot-4 guard, he is considered a solid athlete who can handle the ball, has tidy footwork, and can finish at the rim, especially through contact. His lack of height doesn’t appear to impact his ability to crash the boards too. He averaged 4.9 rebounds in college, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see these skills transfer over to the NBA.

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(Image/ AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

At Iowa State, Horton-Tucker played all four perimeter positions. He spent a lot of his time as a floor spacing 4, but also ran the ball as an ever-so-modern, point-forward. Although, with a Lakers team that struggled in terms of shooting last season, Horton-Tucker appears to have difficulties as well. He made just 40.6% of his shots last season, with a 30.8% clip from 3-point land.

With his weight, he will have to learn to grow this into a positive in the NBA. This is in terms of building up his core strength and filling out his body in an athletic sense, in order to match with the league’s best.

There is no doubt that Horton-Tucker has more of an impact on the defensive end rather than offensively. The Lakers may opt to move him up-and-down from the G-League to assist in his development. But if he can just get a fraction of his offensive game going, he could be a solid contributor instantly.

By Matt Evans (@mattyyyevans)

3 Second Round Players That the Lakers Could Target in the Draft

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(Image/Sam Wasson/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Lakers are a very different team today than they were this time last week. Last week the Lakers were splitting their focus between scouting top-10 draft prospects and trying to broker a deal for Anthony Davis. Well now that the latter has occurred, there’s no need to focus on the draft anymore.

However, don’t rule out the purple and gold getting themselves back into the draft someway, somehow. On June 18, Adrian Wojnarowski and Bobby Marks of ESPN reported that the Lakers are “pursuing the the purchase of second-round picks in Thursday’s NBA draft”. It was further stated that the reasoning behind this is to acquire inexpensive talent, along with the ability to exceed the salary cap with minimum contracts.

With the recent success that the Lakers have had at the end of the first round and early second, with Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, Thomas Bryant, Jordan Clarkson, and Larry Nance Jr, all proving to be very solid NBA players, I wouldn’t rule out the Lakers buying or trading for a prospect who they feel could be a useful role player.

A lot of credit for the recent non-lottery picks must be given to both Jesse Buss (Director of Scouting/Assistant General Manager) and Ryan West (Director of Player Personnel). In my opinion they are the only consistent members of the front office that do a stellar job. They are truly a credit to the organisation.

Having said all of that, they have a lot of work to do before Thursday night’s draft should they acquire a pick. I’m very confident they have done their homework already and that the Lakers were planning all along on buying a draft pick in the second round, or trading an asset to get a late first.

With that all said, here are three second round draft prospects who the Lakers could make a move for on draft night.

Jontay Porter:

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(Image/USA Today Sports)

To say Jontay Porter is unlucky is an understatement. Considered a first round draft prospect last season, he passed up the opportunity of committing to the 2018 NBA Draft for a multitude of reasons. The main reason being he had torn his ACL and MCL, and he was still rehabbing the injuries. Another strong consideration was that the 2018 draft was considered deep and his chances of being included in the lottery were low.

He decided to return to college to develop his game, work on his NBA body, and to show teams that when healthy he can be a solid addition. However, during a late-night workout with his brother (Denver Nuggets rookie Michael Porter Jr) at the Nuggets’ practice facility, Jontay re-tore his healing ACL, effectively destroying any chance of being taken in the first round of this year’s draft.

As a result of his misfortunes, he is being labelled as injury prone and his draft stock has plummeted. It is very likely that Porter will now be available in the middle of the second round. Before his injuries, Jontay wasn’t just Michael Porter Jr’s little brother, he was a genuine prospect in his own right. With fantastic size, mobility, length, and an ability to shoot the ball, if he overcomes his injury history he can still be a very solid NBA player moving forward. Whether he bounces back from his injuries is the big question though.

I rate him higher than Mortiz Wagner, if healthy. Jontay Porter would be the perfect second unit big, capable of giving 15-20 mins a night. Here is hoping he can bounce back from his injuries and have a productive NBA career.

2017/18 Stats: 9.9 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 2.2 APG, 43.7% FG, 36.4% 3P

2018/19 Stats: N/A

Jalen Lecque:

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(Image/The News & Observer)

Jalen Lecque is a unique prospect. Having decided to forego his college eligibility, Lecque decided to attend prep school, Brewster Academy, in order to spend his time to fully prepare on making the leap to the NBA, following the likes of Thon Maker and Anfernee Simmons. It is going to be interesting moving forward whether this becomes a trend.

With being a combo guard, he has fantastic size to play both positions. Additionally, standing at 6-foot-4, with a lengthy wingspan of 6-foot-8, the one aspect of this game that stands out is his body control and the ability to make plays in the paint. He shows admirable athleticism and for such a young player, he shows excellent dexterity in dribbling with both hands.

While Lecque doesn’t possess elite court vision, he is still capable of orchestrating an offense. With the right mentor-ship he could very easily become a useful point guard in the NBA someday. My guess is that he will be sent down to the G-League initially, in order to develop him for the professional ranks. He certainly shows promise and if he can continue to improve, he could be an ideal option for the Lakers.

2018/19 Stats: N/A

Jaylen Hands:

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(Image/Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images)

With Lonzo Ball no longer a part of the Laker organisation, it could be time to bring in another UCLA Bruin. While the Bruins have not done anything of note since Lonzo’s departure, his replacement does have the ability to be an NBA player. Jaylen Hands is by no means an elite talent but he is a well-rounded point guard, with a lot of upside.

When you first watch Hands you see a fearless guard who throws himself around the court, whether it’s finishing at the rim, grabbing rebounds, or getting in the passing lanes. With his offensive game, Hands is a great slasher, he uses this to get to the rim. His fearless nature allows him to get buckets inside due to his combination of speed and explosiveness.

He is also a very capable 3-point shooter who will torch any team if left open. So why is he available in the second round if he is capable of defending, scoring inside and out, and is a solid athlete? Well, UCLA have not been a good team for the last two years, and this has caused many scouts to turn their attention elsewhere. While Hands may never be a superstar, he definitely has a place in the NBA. He must continue to improve in all aspects of the game, especially his handle which can be suspect at times.

I could absolutely see him being a great bench piece for the Lakers in the coming years. While I don’t think he could contribute right away, I feel good about him being a useful bench scorer for the Lakers in the years to come.

2018/19 Stats: 14.2 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 6.1 APG, 41.3% FG, 37.4% 3P

By Jonathan Kiernan (@KiernanJonathan)

2019 NBA Draft Predictions

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(Image/NBA.com)

The 2019 NBA Draft is fast approaching and speculation is widespread with many giving their input on who the Lakers should draft with the #4 pick, come June 20.

It is very much a toss up between Darius Garland, Jarrett Culver, De’Andre Hunter, and Cam Reddish, it seems. Either would definitely be a solid addition to the roster. However, does it even matter? After all the Lakers will be trading the pick, won’t they? This is where it gets interesting!

We have gathered the opinions of four UK-based Laker fans (one is from Germany, but he’s now an adopted Brit!) on the franchise landing another high draft pick, the Lakers’ plans moving forward, how the draft will unfold, among other topics.

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(Image/NBA.com)

Q: First of all, what was your reaction when the Lakers jumped up 7 places in the Draft Lottery to secure the #4 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft?

Matt: “I didn’t stay up for it like I have done in previous years because I thought we were a dead set for #11. Upon waking up I was elated, it was a massive boost for the franchise and some much-needed positivity in what was a relatively bleak period with all of the front office drama.”

Steve: “I was pretty happy. It‘s a top heavy draft so it’s nice to be able to pick at #4. It’s also an end to an otherwise forgettable season.”

Mohamoud: “Shocked would be an understatement. I never expected the Lakers to sneak into the top 5. However, once it was announced that the Lakers had jumped ahead, I had a sneaky feeling that the number 1 or 2 pick would fall in our lap. Either way, I am extremely happy.”

Ryan: “My initial thoughts were ones of happiness just like I’m sure all Laker fans’ were, jumping up that many allows us to draft a better player arguably. My other thoughts were that it gives us a lot better collateral for trading.”

Q: As well as giving the Lakers the opportunity to draft a talented young player to add to the core, the pick gives the franchise another asset to potentially place in a trade. Do you think the Lakers will use the pick or trade it?

Matt: “I think the Lakers will actively look to trade the pick in the hope of acquiring some star talent to the roster. Whether they are actually able to do it though, is a different question.”

Steve: “As much as I‘d like to see a new young player, I think the Lakers will use the pick as a trade chip.”

Mohamoud: “For the Lakers, the ideal situation would be to trade the pick. This draft is top heavy. I don’t envision anyone outside the top 3 to be good enough to entice other teams *ahem ahem* *Pelicans* to trade for that pick.”

Ryan: “Personally I think it depends on a few things. LeBron is the key player in all of this, if he decides to go and help run the Lakers which from what we’ve seen on the surface and from what Magic has told us, we could really do with him turning his hand to running the front office like everyone has said he’s done at every organisation he’s been at. If LeBron gets involved I can see it being used as collateral in a trade, LeBron has a few years left and wants to win now, he’s got enough kids on the roster, I highly doubt he’d want another. I could also see the front office trying to get back at LeBron after the whole AD thing and draft another kid and make LeBron work with it.”

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(Image/Jeff Haynes/Getty Images)

Q: Obviously, what the Lakers do and what the fans want appear to differ at present time, what do YOU want the Lakers to do with the pick?

Matt: “I’m pretty torn between the two really, if we get the option of acquiring Anthony Davis, I’m all for it. But the thought of gutting the roster to do so frightens me to be honest. If a reasonable offer for Beal got accepted I wouldn’t be against that either. The front office just needs to be smart, for once.”

Steve: “I‘d like to use the pick on a player like Hunter, Garland or Reddish.”

Mohamoud: “The Lakers want to win now. That’s why they signed LeBron James. So trading the pick would be a priority for me.”

Ryan: “I’m not sure AD is worth giving up what we will have to. If I was in the front office I’d be targeting Beal with the pick, I don’t know what other collateral you’d have to give Washington to get him but I highly doubt it would be what Pelicans are demanding for Davis.”

Q: There seems to be a fair few interesting options available at #4, who would you like to see the Lakers draft and why? This is should they decide to keep the pick.

Matt: “I would go with Darius Garland. I think he looks a fantastic player, and could really fit into the modern NBA with flashy guards. He looks a threat from range, can get to the rim and can distribute. Oh, and he has that Klutch Sports link..”

Steve: “Hunter would be my obvious choice. He’s a great defender who could have an immediate impact on the team. He can defend guards, forwards and would be great alongside Lonzo.”

Mohamoud: “For the Lakers, they have to pick the best player available. If the projected top 3 remains as it is, Culver would be a great pick. I am also extremely high on Garland and considering that we will most likely push to trade Lonzo for something better, Garland would be a good pick up. I am also high on Hunter. With his size and skill set, he could help out immediately.”

Ryan: “Ideally I’d like Ja (Morant) to still be on the board although that has as much of a chance of happening as the Suns do of going unbeaten next season. Personally I like Cam Reddish, he’d be a good fit at #4.”

Q: There have been reports suggesting that the New York Knicks may pass on RJ Barrett and select Jarrett Culver with the #3 pick. That surely won’t happen, will it? I mean, it is the Knicks that we are talking about.

Matt: “In the past, the Knicks have been as dysfunctional as any but surely they don’t pass on Barrett. I can’t see it happening. I don’t think there’s a huge difference between the top-3 and the rest of the draft like many are saying. But there is still some difference. The Knicks will play it safe and so they should.”

Steve: “If you‘d asked me that a year ago I’d have agreed on him, no doubt. However his year at Duke wasn’t convincing. Barrett wasn’t able to carry the team without Zion. Even with Zion he seemed more like a complementary player.”

Mohamoud: “The Knicks cannot be that stupid, can they? Pass up on, potentially the best player in the draft? If Barrett falls on our lap, we might have to rename the draft to the Lakers Christmas gift. Don’t get me wrong, I am not excited about the prospect of playing him, rather that he would have great trade value. We could flip him for something more productive for our timeline.”

Ryan: “I think this is a non starter because not even the Knicks would be that stupid. But also because I think that’s where AD will end up as the change of having the 1+3 pick might see the Pelicans give AD to NY.”

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(Image/NBA.com)

Q: The Lakers have drafted very well over the past few years, especially late in the 1st round and in the 2nd. Who has been your favourite pick in recent years, it doesn’t necessarily have to be who you think is the best, but it could be a steal for the position in which a player was drafted. Is there one that stands out for you?

Matt: “There has been quite a few over recent years; Nance, Clarkson, Zubac, etc. But Kuzma stands out for me, to snatch him as a late-1st rounder was a steal. He’s had such a strong impact and should get better and better. On his day he can be a devastating scorer.”

Steve: “Kuz is my favorite pick in recent years. To get a player with his skill set at #27 was amazing. Ingram and Lonzo were good picks too, but that’s what you expect when you draft a player at #2.”

Mohamoud: “Kuzma should come to everyone’s mind as a late draft pick steal. So does Josh Hart. I can also remember the Lakers selecting Marc Gasol late in the second round, although nothing materialised from that. I also really like Zubac. The front office made a terrible mistake trading him out of sheer panic.”

Ryan: “This would have been a straight forward one and I’d have gone with Zubac until, idiotically, we traded him for some ridiculous reason. So I’m going to bend the question a bit and go for Kuzma, although technically we didn’t select him. He’s still my favourite player we’ve gotten in the process in recent years. I love watching him play.”


Thank you to Steve, Mohamoud, and Ryan for taking part and providing their views, it is much appreciated. Over the past week we ran a poll over on Lakers Fanclub UK’s Twitter page on who our followers think the Lakers should draft with the #4 pick, should they decide to use it. The results were:

  • Darius Garland – 32%
  • Jarrett Culver – 21%
  • De’Andre Hunter – 16%
  • Cam Reddish – 31%

Speculation will undoubtedly run wild between now and June 20, that’s for sure. Come draft night who honestly knows what’s going to happen, but that’s the fun of it all, we wouldn’t have it any other way!

By Matt Evans (@mattyyyevans)

Who Should The Lakers Draft At #4?

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(Image/ Jeff Haynes/Getty Images )

It’s been 2 weeks since the Los Angeles Lakers jumped up 7 places in the Draft Lottery, to land the number 4 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Since, there has been plenty of speculation on what the Lakers will do with the pick; will they use it to boost their offer for Anthony Davis? Will they look to trade it for Bradley Beal in a lesser offer? Will they use the pick to add another young asset to the roster?

“But now it shifts, what we can get at four. I will tell you there are some incredibly talented, impact players there that we’re going to study deeply. And then of course we’ll canvass the league and see what value that pick has. But either of those options is an extraordinary win for the franchise.”

Rob Pelinka

Despite this year’s class being considered as a three-player draft, there are still some extremely talented, versatile players that the Lakers can select at number 4 come June 20. Below, we take a look at some of those options:

(Image/Duke Blue Devils Athletics)

RJ Barrett

With the top-2 picks being a certain lock with Zion Williamson and Ja Morant, respectively, it is widely considered that the New York Knicks will select RJ Barrett, out of Duke, with the 3rd pick. This will probably be the most likely scenario, however this is the unpredictable Knicks that we are talking about.

The Lakers will surely be blessed if RJ Barrett is passed upon and is available for selection at number 4. Even though there is a surplus of forwards in Los Angeles, the Lakers have to take the best player available. Eyes have been locked on the forward, from Toronto, Ontario, for many years now. Barrett averaged 22.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 4.3 assists last season for the Blue Devils, on 45.4% shooting.

Despite not turning 19-years-old until the week of the draft, he does possess the size, length and frame for an NBA wing, standing at 6-foot-7 with a 6-10 wingspan, weighing 208 pounds. Used primarily on the wing, Barratt has evolved into a ball-handing guard also, where he can be a facilitator on the court. Through this he could be a solid option in the pick-and-roll and in isolation. Additionally, Barratt can use his strong frame to drive to the paint and finish, at times initiating contact to get to the free-throw line.

However, RJ Barratt did only shoot at 31% from 3-point land during his time at Duke, converting at just 67% from the free-throw line. Many question his unnatural shooting stroke which may be the cause of his shooting woes.


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Darius Garland

The 19-year-old out of Vanderbilt signed to Klutch Sports back in February, the same agency that represents LeBron James, of whom Garland hosts a strong relationship with already. That’s it, the Lakers are drafting Garland, end of story. Right?

All jokes and the LeBron-link aside, Garland does look like a legitimate option at number 4. The point guard from Indiana is a high-level pull-up shooter, who is a serious threat from range. This can be in a variety of situations too; in isolation, from pick-and-rolls, and off the catch. His shot has a clean, quick release that can be a beauty to watch.

At 6-foot-2, Garland is a speedy ball handler who can change direction in an instant, and while he is not a great finisher (yet) at the rim, he has shown that he is capable of finding an open man when the defense collapses. Defensively, there are concerns, especially with how he will deal with switches in the NBA.

Darius Garland only featured in 5 games for Vanderbilt, before a knee injury sidelined him for the majority of his freshman campaign back in November. In those 5 games, Garland averaged 16.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.6 assists, per game. Shooting 53.7% from the field, and at an impressive 47.8% from 3.


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Jarrett Culver

Jarrett Culver is a 6-foot-7 shooting guard, coming out of Texas Tech. Unlike many of the options presented to the Lakers at number 4, Culver has 2 years of collegiate experience under his belt. The 20-year-old, in his first season in Texas, averaged 11.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.1 steals, per game, on 45.5% shooting, 38.2% from 3. In his second season Culver flourished, averaging 18.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1.4 steals, on 46.1% shooting. However, he struggled in the 3-point category, converting at just 30.4%.

He does possess a great frame, at 6-foot-7, and can get physical around the rim, which would make him an interesting prospect with NBA spacing. But really his strengths sit in the mid-post. Additionally, Culver is a shot creator who can get his own shot off and can generate opportunities for others. He could be an option to play through the point guard position too, ticking the versatility box. Jarrett Culver is an intriguing 2-way prospect also, who can defensively cover positions 1-3 and look for a rebound.

Although, as previously mentioned, Culver is an inconsistent shooter. He went into a major slump in Texas Tech’s final 3 games of the season, including in the NCAA Championship game, shooting just 5/22 in an overtime loss to Virginia.


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De’Andre Hunter

Another option for the Lakers could be De’Andre Hunter, who was part of the Virginia side that won the 2019 NCAA Championship. Much like Jarrett Culver, Hunter hosts 2 years of collegiate experience. Averaging 15.2 points in his sophomore year, along with 5.1 rebounds, and 2 assists, on 52% shooting, 43.8% from beyond the arc.

The 21-year-old has huge upside on the defensive end, standing at 6-foot-8 with a 7-2 wingspan, weighing 227 pounds. Hunter is capable of guarding multiple positions, whether it be at the top of the key or in the paint. Through 38 games for Virginia last season, Hunter recorded 22 blocks and 22 steals.

Hunter is a solid 2-way player, where on the offensive end he can be a mid-range/3-point threat. He shot at an impressive rate (42%) for a forward throughout his college career from 3-point land. However may it be noted that he shot from beyond the arc at a low rate, making only 67 3s in 71 games. There are concerns about his shooting stroke also, where he appears to lose confidence at times. Again, consistency.


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Cam Reddish

Returning to Duke, an outside option for the Lakers could be Cam Reddish. He certainty looks an intriguing one too. On first glance, Reddish holds a strong physical profile, at 6-foot-8 and 218 pounds. A profile that will continue to fill out. Through 36 games for the Blue Devils, the 19-year-old averaged 13.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.6 steals. But through those games, he did only shoot at a 35.6% rate.

Reddish is listed as a forward but can play all of the perimeter positions. He has shown the fundamentals to be a solid shooter, but it is fair to say that his opportunities were limited in a Duke side that featured the soon-to-be number 1 draft pick in Zion Williamson, and projected top-3 pick RJ Barrett.

Cam Reddish is admired in terms of pure talent. He can make jumpers off the dribble and hosts quality footwork and rotation. He possesses potential upside as a ball handler, passer and a defender too.

It is believed that Reddish lacks explosiveness athletically, and that he isn’t a physical player. His effort level and focus have also been questioned. Additionally, while his shooting stoke looks impressive mechanically, he was an inconsistent shooter in college.

Maybe some one just needs to take the risk with him and he’ll flourish?

By Matt Evans (@mattyyyevans)

Reaction: Lakers Get Lucky at the Draft Lottery

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April 9, 2019 turned out to be a watershed moment in Lakers history, as shortly before tip-off in the team’s final game of the season against the now Western Conference Finalists; the Portland Trailblazers, Magic Johnson delivered a hammer blow to the organisation and resigned from his position as President of Basketball Operations.

Ever-since, Laker fans have had to endure speculation, embarrassment and protests at the way the organisation is being ran, with most of the fire being aimed at owner Jeanie Buss. Buss appears to be content with her inner circle, with various reports suggesting that Linda Rambis and her husband Kurt are assisting in the running of the organisation, along with Rob Pelinka’s influence growing.

A lot has been written about these events by the media and fans including this very site, opinions seem to be on the same page but through this tumultuous period we dare to hope and see light at end of tunnel.

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Sat writing this on a glorious sunny day in the United Kingdom, the sun certainly seems to be shining on the Lakers right now. After the afore mentioned troubling weeks, the franchise landed a new head coach in Frank Vogel, and more importantly jumped 7 places from the projected #11 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, to the #4 pick. Thanks in part to Kyle Kuzma’s lucky, snazzy purple suit jacket. The pick is a tremendous reward for the fans. Finally something to celebrate about!

Rob Pelinka now has a lot to prove, he has been presented with an excellent opportunity to move this franchise forward with two options. Either Pelinka can build up from the strong young core we have in place (Kuzma, Ingram, Ball and Hart) and use the #4 pick wisely with the help of Jesse Buss/Ryan West and their scouting department. Or he can look to trade the pick to acquire additional superstar talent, to build a roster capable of contending almost immediately.

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This is an unexpected flexibility that Pelinka must have wished for when he woke up yesterday morning, free agency is almost upon us and this top-4 pick possibly opens the door for the Lakers to re-engage with the New Orleans Pelicans for an Anthony Davis trade. That or open up discussions with the Washington Wizards to bring Bradley Beal to Los Angeles.

A lot of challenges remain and chips still have to fall, but there are more reasons to be optimistic about this off-season and the upcoming season, especially now the draft lottery has blessed the Lakers. Now, it’s over to the front office.

By Dave Keenan (@AzumaDriver)

The Lakers Shock the World and Land a Top-4 Draft Pick

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There has not been much for Laker fans to celebrate about in recent months. News has been replete with story after story of loss and dysfunction of varying sorts. But then came the 2019 draft lottery wherein the Lakers and their fans were granted a much needed reprieve from the recent storm of negative press.

Courtesy of the Lakers’ 37-45 record for the 2018-2019 season, the franchise sat in the 11th spot ahead of the draft lottery and had only a 9.4% chance of jumping into the top-4. A 77.6% chance of remaining exactly where they were on the board seemed the most likely, in fact the odds were actually greater that the Lakers would drop down to the 12th spot (12.6%) than move up. For whatever reason, the basketball gods smiled on the Lakers and their fans and the franchise jumped 7 spots to the #4 pick.

The consequences for this improbable turn of events for the Lakers presents options that were not previously available. First, I’ll play Captain Obvious and point out that better players are available for selection at pick #4 than pick #11. Second, the pick is a much better asset which makes a trade for a second star (e.g. Anthony Davis) much more possible. So either the Lakers could end up with another valuable young player to add to the core or it may help the Lakers put together a trade package for a more established star, a potential win-win.

Of course, there could be some things to point out if one wanted to throw a wet blanket on the Lakers and their fans notwithstanding their lottery jump. For starters, is it a coincidence that the one good thing to happen to the Lakers in months is the one thing in which the Lakers brass had absolutely no control? What’s more, given the news that has come in the past month, can there really be confidence that the Lakers will do the right thing with their newfound asset? Let’s hope so!

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But this isn’t the day for such wet blanket throwing or naysaying. There will be a lot of time in the summer months to dissect how the Lakers handle their business going forward. But not today. Enjoy it, Laker fans. Take as much time as possible to enjoy the feeling of optimism commensurate with the Lakers improbable draft lottery jump.

By Frank Gaulden (@FrankGaulden)