The lottery has come and gone, leaving the Lakers in a worse position than they started. How should Lakers fans be feeling after dropping to No. 7?
The Lakers recent string of bad luck continues on, with the team's inability to even stay locked in at the sixth spot in the draft during the lottery. Instead, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers will take the cream of the crop, but the remaining top-10 talent isn't a bad place to be drafting.
The names Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon, Noah Vonleh and Marcus Smart will be buzzing around the Lakers leading up to the draft, while a player like Dante Exum could serve as the pipe dream player who somehow drops past the Orlando Magic and Boston Celtics. It's hard to digest the results, so what's first line of thought following the draft order going official?
Well, damn. The anticipation of watching the actual lottery results trickle out toward the Lakers was killed pretty quickly once a handful of teams jumped up ahead of the Lakers. Surviving a 20-minute onslaught of commercials and filler content amounted to the Cavaliers getting another top pick.
The knee jerk was instant disappointment, but really, the Lakers aren't in a much worse position than they were heading into the night. They'll still be in the mix for the trio of forwards in Gordon, Vonleh and Randle while also still being able to reach for Marcus Smart if they want to address a backcourt position. The real disappointment would have been free falling to the eighth or ninth spot where they wind up with the leftovers in that group. Instead, they'll be in line to have options.
Sure, that's not very assuring coming off of a franchise-worst season. It's not the euphoria of knowing the team is locked into a top-three pick, but there's still going to be a talented, young player with upside to watch (hopefully) develop. It's always a good thing to be in position to draft a player who can contribute.
Imagine how disheartening it'd be to watch the lottery pass without a pick at all. You know, kinda like how things could go next season around this time if the team doesn't turn this around significantly in a single summer.
This result might be disappointing to legions of Laker fans that had dreams of Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid, or Jabari Parker donning the purple and gold -- wait for the 2020s! -- but the Lakers are still in a perfectly good position at number seven in this draft. As has been said by many, including those at this blog, this draft is eight deep, so being at seven is hardly anything to fret about. At least one of Julius Randle, Noah Vonleh, or Aaron Gordon, all excellent prospects that would go in the top three of a normal draft, will be available at seven and the Lakers don't even have to go through the trouble of picking between them assuming that Marcus Smart slides to eight.
The team's biggest need is in the frontcourt and the board at seven nicely correlates with that in terms of value. So in sum, the Lakers are still getting a damn good player, got some additional cap flexibility for their trouble, and thankfully are well out of the range at which the notion of trading the pick becomes at all realistic.
What is all of the fuss about?
I am in no way an expert on these prospects, far from it considering that I watch very little college basketball. I believe Ben and my other colleagues though when they reassure Lakers fans that there will still be very good players available at the 7th spot given how deep this draft is. However, I would be lying if I said that I wasn't at least a little disappointed when I read the news in my car that LA would be picking 7th, and that disappointment shifted briefly to anger, and then laughter when I saw that the Cavaliers got the first pick in the draft AGAIN.
You really can't make this stuff up, the chances were almost impossibly minuscule of Cleveland getting the number 1 pick (1.7%), much less how small the chances had to be of the Cavaliers getting it 3 out of the last 4 years. This would seem to be a great case in some ways for changing the current lottery system which continues to reward organizational ineptitude. I personally would be in favor of something in the vein of Dexter Fishmore's "Lottery Repeater Tax", wherein a team's lottery chances are penalized for missing the playoffs repeatedly.
Enough sour grapes though. With all that being said, the mood I settled on was excited, mainly for the promise of a solid, young player that we get to watch (hopefully) blossom into a genuine star, or at least a solid building block, over the next couple of years.
Go get 'em Mitch.
As I'm a fan of both the Lakers and the Jayhawks, I had several reasons to want to hold out hope for the Lakers landing one of the top two spots via the lottery. Sadly, that didn't happen, but the Lakers still have a chance to get a very good player at the seventh spot in the draft.
I think that the three most likely selections that will be available in that spot are Aaron Gordon, Noah Vonleh, and Marcus Smart. I'm pretty conflicted as to which of those I would pick at this time, but they all have their strengths that could make them very good players. I am probably higher on Marcus Smart's potential than most, though I despise his antics and don't want to force myself to root for him. Gordon could be an elite and versatile defensive force, and Vonleh has a lot of the tools that point to high upside once he's developed, such as athleticism and the promise of an improving jumper.
Another player to watch out for is if Julius Randle drops that far, but I doubt it. I also wouldn't be opposed to considering Doug McDermott at No. 7, as I think he's a safe pick that will be a legitimate piece to any offense.
Lakers should be able to do well for themselves in this draft if they are smart, and I don't think they should look to trade the pick.
My first reaction? It was a four letter word that started with an S.
I’ll make no bones about it: I’m pretty disappointed that the Basketball Gods didn’t shine a light on the Lakers.
But after my baser instincts resided, I keep on going back to a pair of pieces that both Ben Rosales and myself wrote several months ago. Not only are there some very good players to be had in the neighborhood where the Lakers reside, but more to the point superstars and franchise guys aren’t exclusively tied to the upper crust of the NBA Draft. While I would have been hitting floor in joyful seizures had the pick landed in the top-three, I believe very strongly in the draft capabilities of Mitch Kupchak and Jimmy Buss, both of whom have a fairly impeccable reputation assessing young players. Even given the team’s selection, I fully expect the duo to be able to sniff out which of these players has the highest ceiling: Noah Vonleh, Aaron Gordon, Marcus Smart, Tyler Ennis, Gary Harris, Jr. or Doug McDermott.
I’ll make no bones about it: I’m pretty disappointed that the Basketball Gods didn’t shine a light on the Lakers. The fact that Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and/or Jabari Parker will go to the basketball wastelands in Milwaukee and Cleveland bums me out to no end. However, I’m trying to temper my very emotional reaction that gives Lakers fans such a bad reputation with some logic. We’ve been saying for months here at SS&R that the team will get a solid player, just as long as they don’t fall to ninth in the Draft. If there’s a chance that there’s a franchise-type guy at number 7, I have full faith and confidence that Jimmy and Mitch will find him.
So, I’m bummed out, but not nearly as much as I should be.