The Los Angeles Lakers aren’t expected to be very good this year, but most fans and the team themselves seem to have hope for the future. According to ESPN’s Chad Ford and Kevin Pelton’s future rankings of all 30 NBA teams, however, that hope might be misplaced.
Ford and Pelton ranked each team in five categories: players, management, money, market, and draft. By those metrics, the pair of analysts concluded that the Lakers will be the 25th best team in the NBA over the next three seasons, citing the team’s inability to get meetings with top free agents, lack of cap space after signing Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov to big contracts, and RPM projecting Los Angeles will only win a league-worst 24.3 games this season.
Lakers fans (and again, the team) are probably hoping for better results than that over a three-year time frame, and it’s not impossible to see it happening. The Lakers can still free up cap space for one max contract next summer, and if the past few offseasons have taught us anything, it’s that it’s easier for teams to move contracts and generate cap room than ever before.
Outside of the pie-in-the-sky scenario of recruiting a superstar, there is also a chance the Lakers have one on their roster. The team has two second overall picks in Brandon Ingram and D’Angelo Russell who are brimming with potential to bust out, as well as the outside chance Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance, Jr. take a bigger leap than expected.
Pelton and Ford know their stuff, but even they would admit their projections are just that, projections. Meaning there is room for error. The Lakers taking a big leap over the next few years may not be the scenario they have pegged as most likely, but it’s also not impossible.
You can read the full ESPN projections here (Insider Required). You can follow this author on Twitter at @hmfaigen.