Tonight the Los Angeles Lakers enter the NBA Draft Lottery for only the second time this century. It’s an unfamiliar place for fans of the Lakers like myself. What do we do? How do we act? What are we rooting for?
The last time the Lakers were in the Draft Lottery, in 2005, they were slotted with the 10th best odds of getting the magic ping pong ball combination and ended up getting the 10th overall pick, which they used on Andrew Bynum. While Bynum certainly turned out to be a solid pick, and would probably be a top-3 pick if teams could re-draft the ’05 draft, the Lakers fan base has a loftier goal for tonight.
Laker fans believe that they deserve the #1 overall pick tonight, which they have a 6.3% chance of getting. Anything less than the top pick would be considered a failure of the gods. The Lakers are very rarely in the position to grab a top pick in the NBA Draft. Heck, the last two times the Lakers picked first, in 1979 and 1982, they weren’t even using their own selections. Those were the days. You know, when the Lakers could take advantage of the leagues drunk executives and fleece them for top picks.
The Lakers and their fans have fallen on hard times. The team just went through their most disastrous season since 1958 and won the fewest games in franchise history. You can blame Mike D’Antoni, you can blame injuries, you can blame mismanagement. It doesn’t matter. What Laker fans need to hope for is that the karma gods reward the Lakers with a top-three pick tonight in the lottery.
Bill Simmons wrote this in his NBA Draft Lottery Karma piece (which is a must read) on Grantland.com earlier today.
7. L.A. Lakers
You gotta respect the year-to-year greatness of this franchise. Since 1958, they missed the playoffs only five times. They won only 27 games last year; that’s somehow their lowest total since 1958. They’ve never won the lottery; since 1982, they’ve never picked higher than 10th. They won 11 of the last 42 titles and appeared in 26 of the last 55 Finals. Since Elgin Baylor joined the Lakers in 1958, they’ve trotted out at least one historically great superstar in 49 of the past 56 seasons. And they’ve produced at least 3.5 million annoying fans (easily a league record).
On the other hand … they’re due to suck for a few years. Right? Why should THEY get the no-sucking-ever exemption? We’ll see if the Karma Gods think Lakers fans should suffer for a few years or not.
(By the way, if the Lakers win the lottery tonight, it will be one of the funniest Internet moments of all time and — since I’ll be appearing on live TV on ESPN — I’m just about guaranteed to get fired for what I’ll say afterward. I don’t know if this means the Lakers should get more or fewer karma points.)
Bill, I love you but I’m hoping you say some extremely questionable stuff on ESPN after the lottery. Also, you forgot about the part where David Stern colluded with himself to nix the Chris Paul trade to the Lakers, thereby changing the course of the league forever. That should be worth some karma in the Lakers favor. At last count their were 7 teams that were directly affected by “Basketball Reasons”. Those teams would be the Lakers, Pelicans, Suns, Rockets, Thunder, Warriors and the Clippers.
Pelicans: Instead of getting Goran Dragic, Lamar Odom, Kevin Martin, Luis Scola and a 2012 first round pick, New Orleans got Chris Kaman, Eric Gordon‘s corpse, Al-Farouq Aminu, and a 2012 first round pick that ended up being Austin Rivers. Yeah, the Pelicans got screwed by the league. Except they didn’t. David Stern realized his mistake and rigged the lottery for the Pelicans to grab Anthony Davis with the first pick in the 2012 Draft (Note: It may have not been rigged but I’m bitter and it was rigged. Good riddance Stern.)
Suns: Somehow scored Dragic from the Rockets. He wasn’t decent or anything for Phoenix this season.
Rockets: The Rockets would have received Pau Gasol as part of the Paul trade and would have given up Dragic, Martin, and Scola plus a first rounder from the Knicks. Instead, they had all of these pieces after Stern nixed the trade. What did they do? They traded Martin and the pick from the Knicks as the centerpiece of their deal with the Thunder to grab first-team guard James Harden. That directly led them to Dwight Howard. The rest is first round exit history!
Thunder: Because of the assets the Rockets had, the Thunder decided to trade James Harden to Houston. While it was a foolish trade at the time, that has gotten worse over time, they were still influenced by Basketball Reasons. If that trade went through, the Thunder would have traded Harden to……..
Warriors: Yes, the Thunder would have ended up trading Harden to Golden State for a package that would have included Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes. How much better are the Thunder right now if they have those two guys?
Clippers: The team that was affected in the best way by Basketball Reasons were the Clippers. They gave up less assets than the Lakers and ended up being handed the keys to a beautiful sports car of a roster. That lead them to Doc Rivers and a bunch of other assets that will make them contenders for years to come. However, Basketball Reasons also led to the Clippers having a larger profile nationally, which allowed Clippers owner Donald Sterling to be thought of as a decent owner and human being. Well, that all came crashing down rather quickly. Yes, I am saying that David Stern’s decision to send Chris Paul to the Clippers, instead of the Lakers, partially resulted in the Sterling situation the league is currently dealing with.
Anyways, this is a really longwinded way of saying that because of Basketball Reasons, the NBA is a a very different place than it should have been and that the Lakers took the biggest hit out of any of the teams affected (which is about 23.3% of the league).
The Los Angeles Lakers need the ping pong balls to fall their way tonight. It’s all luck at this point but if the karma gods have anything to do with it, they shouldn’t forget that the Lakers deserve to be repaid for Basketball Reasons. It’s only right.
So, let’s assume that the Lakers get lucky tonight and the gods shine down upon the organization. My perfect scenario for the Lakers tonight is for them to grab the #2 overall pick. The Lakers currently have a 7.1% chance of nabbing the #2 pick and a 8.1% chance of grabbing the #3 pick. So, why do I want the Lakers to get the #2 pick? Quite simply, I do not trust the Buss Family and Mitch Kupchak to make the correct decision with the first overall pick. I would like for the decision to be made for them at #2. Even the 3rd pick, in my eyes, is less of a risk than the first overall pick.
Here’s what we know: Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins, and Jabari Parker will be the first three picks in the NBA Draft. Yes, it’s somewhat possible that Julius Randle or Dante Exum could find their way in the top three, but it’s highly unlikely. Most fans believe that Wiggins is the first pick regardless of who gets the selection. WRONG! Quietly, NBA executives know that Embiid is the first overall pick.
It scares me if the Lakers have the first overall pick and Embiid is there for the taking. We all know the Lakers affinity for big men. Embiid would likely be the pick. However, the Lakers are set up perfectly to groom Wiggins or Parker into a superstar caliber player. Watching Kobe Bryant play and compete on a day-to-day basis would be perfect for Wiggins or Parker’s development. That is why I’ll be rooting (or more likely praying) for the Lakers to get rewarded with the 2nd or 3rd pick in tonight’s lottery. I’m not saying I would be against the 1st pick, obviously I would be ecstatic. However, it would be in the best interest of the Lakers future to get the 2nd or 3rd pick.
The NBA Draft Lottery is at 5 PM PST tonight and if the Lakers name isn’t called at #9,#8,#7, or #6, I’m going to have a small heart attack. Maybe Dr. Buss has one more trick up his sleeve.
All I know is this: I cannot be held responsible for my actions if the Lakers grab a top three pick.