The Los Angeles Lakers have been busy collecting NBA Draft lottery prospects over the past four summers, slowly rebuilding through the draft as the franchise tries to identify pieces that are going to help define a new era in Los Angeles,
Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball were the fruits of the Lakers winning just 91 of their last 328 games over the last four seasons. While the franchise may never admit to tanking, it’s certainly been a topic of conversation for fans, analysts and beat reporters as the process has rolled along.
The Lakers have also been mining for talent beyond the lottery, adding players like Jordan Clarkson, Kyle Kuzma, Ivica Zubac and Larry Nance, Jr. to the core as well. The draft has arguably been the most important part of the Lakers’ rebuild efforts.
Collecting elite prospects is always a good thing from a fan perspective, but losing game-after-game is an exhausting process. Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times shared a fantastic feature on Leaping Larry, who’s as excited as us for the new season. In it, Nance, Jr. explained why he’d rather not play at all than be in a position where tanking is back on the table (via LA Times):
“I can’t wait. Hearing all that tanking talk [last year] is like nails on the chalkboard to a competitor. I don’t even want to play if tanking is on the table. … This season is about improvement and wins. And getting to be the best team and having the best chemistry that we can possibly have and getting everybody to play the best that they can play. That’s what I’ve been waiting for. … I, for one, am ecstatic. I’m eager. I wish the first game was tomorrow.”
Considering the Lakers’ front office now has its eyes on acquiring a star or two next summer, tanking should absolutely be off the table. At some point the young core has to prove it’s ready to take a big step together, and there’s plenty of optimism around the franchise that the time has finally arrived.
We’re less than one week away from the first preseason game of the year, so buckle up. The time is nigh, and Larry is ready to put tanking behind him like the rest of us.