The Los Angeles Lakers will not be playing for an NBA championship on Tuesday, May 17th, but the days events could play a large role in when they will next compete for one. The NBA draft lottery will be televised on ESPN at 5 p.m. PST Tuesday night. By virtue of their 17-65 record (second worst in the NBA during the 2015-16 season), the Lakers will have a 19.9 percent chance to come away with the first overall pick.
That outcome would be ideal for the very much rebuilding purple and gold, but the Lakers' pick is only top-three protected, meaning if it falls to fourth over fifth the team will be forced to convey it to the Philadelphia 76ers. Philadelphia acquired the pick as part of a three-way trade with the Phoenix Suns (who received it in the Lakers' sign-and-trade acquisition of Steve Nash) and Boston Celtics at the 2015 trade deadline.
The Lakers have a 55.8 percent chance for their pick to remain in the top-three, but they will be forced to remain reliant on the fickle bounces of ping-pong balls in a machine to help determine the future of their franchise.
Should the Lakers lose the pick to Philadelphia, they will be guaranteed to hold on to their 2017 first round pick before owing a top-five protected pick to the Orlando Magic in 2018 as a result of their trade for Dwight Howard. If the Lakers keep their pick during the lottery, they will owe a top-three protected pick to Philadelphia next season.
Mitch Kupchak will represent Los Angeles at the lottery in New York, and should the team keep their pick, he and Lakers fans everywhere will surely be sharing a smile on a stressful Tuesday night.
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