The Los Angeles Lakers will keep their top-three protected 2017 NBA Draft pick, landing the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft lottery Tuesday night. They had a 46.9 percent chance to keep the pick, and Magic Johnson still had enough magic up his sleeve to be the Lakers’ good luck charm on a huge night for the purple and gold.
The Lakers’ late-season winning streak bumped them down from the second-best possible odds to the third-best, but ultimately it wasn’t enough to strip the Lakers of a much-needed lottery pick this summer. Now, they’ll get a chance to take their choice from one of the top prospects making the jump to the NBA.
This is a monumental victory for the Lakers who were facing losing both their 2017 first-round pick and 2019 first-round pick if Lady Luck decided not to look their way. The Lakers’ 2018 first-round pick now belongs to the 76ers without any protections, but this means the first-round picked owed to the Orlando Magic in 2019 goes back to LA due to the Stepien Rule.
Instead, the Lakers’ 2017 and 2018 second-round picks now belong to Orlando, a leftover piece of business from the Dwight Howard trade. It’s a small price to pay for the opportunity to immediately draft one of the top prospects.
Whether it’s Lonzo Ball, Markelle Fultz, De’Aaron Fox, Josh Jackson or another top-tier player, the Lakers and fans should all be thrilled with the outcome. The franchise has already amassed a stable of young talent, but clearly the group’s not there just yet.
Adding a player of this caliber should only accelerate their journey from the bottom of the Western Conference. It also gives the newly instilled front office a great running start into their first summer together. Magic and general manager Rob Pelinka now have the second pick to work with.
This gives the Lakers another huge asset to weigh into the equation that will hopefully lead them forward. The front office can simply draft with this pick and see what happens, float the rights to it as part of a blockbuster trade package - looking at you Indiana Pacers and Paul George - or do a bit of both by keeping the pick and making one of their premium young prospects available instead.
The key here is that the possibilities are numerous for how the Lakers proceed from this point. Without the pick the outlook ahead would be drastically different, but with it there’s reason for optimism to be at an all-time high.
The NBA Draft is June 22, just over a month away. Expect to hear plenty of rumors about which way the Lakers are leaning over that stretch, with perhaps even louder whispers surrounding their pursuit of a star player to anchor the youth they’ve gathered over the years.
Tuesday night was the biggest win of the 2016-17 Lakers’ season and excitement surrounding a new direction for the franchise should only build from here.