When the Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Toronto Raptors earlier this month, it was generally viewed as inconsequential because both teams had already secured their spots in their respective conferences. With the seeding games now in the rearview, we can stay that still holds true — at least in that respect. However, there were some repercussions to that loss in the league-wide standings.
As a result of the Lakers’ loss to the Raptors, they finished the season with the second-best winning percentage (73.2%) in the NBA — just one game behind the Raptors (73.6%). The Milwaukee Bucks had the best the regular season winning percentage (76.7%).
In a normal season, that would be less than ideal because, assuming the Raptors or Bucks come out of the Eastern Conference, the Lakers wouldn’t have home court advantage in a potential NBA Finals series. This season, there is no real home court advantage for either team, so the only thing that was really affected was the Lakers’ draft pick.
Because they finished the regular season with the third-best regular season winning percentage, the Lakers will have the 28th pick in 2020 NBA Draft, as opposed to the 29th pick, where they were slotted to finish for the majority of the season. The Lakers have had the 28th pick twice in their history: once in 1995 and again in 2017.
In 1955, they drafted John Miller, who never ended up playing a game in the NBA, and in 2017, they drafted Tony Bradley, who they traded for Josh Hart and Thomas Bryant on draft night.
Given the Lakers’ recent success with their late first-round draft picks, it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see them keep it. However, with LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the roster, they could see it as an asset to improve their core through a trade. Keep in mind that this is the last first-round draft pick they can trade for a while, and even this pick won’t be able to be traded until a month after the draft because of Ted Stepien rule.
The Lakers will go into the offseason with a lot of question marks in regards to their roster; their draft pick is just another one. The draft is scheduled to take place on Oct. 16.