The elation the Lakers felt last night after beating the very respectable 32-26 Milwaukee Bucks for their 3rd win in a row, tying their longest winning streak of the season, was incredibly satisfying; that’s if you’re one of the few that actually get to suit up in the Purple and Gold uniform.
For the rest that follow the Lakers and plan to do so for the foreseeable future, a win at this stage of the season is devastating.
While looking at it from a competitive or basketball purest prospective, what this current Lakers squad is doing is commendable and should be applauded. It’s a patchwork of misfits and afterthoughts, many of which are on one year deals and in their best interest to go off-script to audition for a job next season, coming together in what is now a lost season, with nobody outside of their locker room walls caring or even wanting them to win, yet they go out there as professionals, block out the noise around them and play their hearts out and continue to get wins wherever they can.
Well, that is great for THEM, unfortunately, the millions of Lakers’ fans aren’t in a position to enjoy wins and that is not their doing. With the current season lost and the only thing to look forward to is the hope of a quick turnaround which starts in the upcoming off-season, that’s what the Lakers’ following is left with and with each win the Lakers register this season dashes those hopes.
The reason being is that the Lakers aren’t faced with merely dropping in the draft with every win, say from the 4th overall spot which is their current position, and having to settle with a lower draft pick, say the 8th or 9th, they’re in danger of not receiving a first round pick at all.
The fans have the Steve Nash deal that Lakers’ management made to thank for the precarious position in which the franchise finds themselves. The Lakers traded 4 draft picks to the Phoenix Suns for Steve Nash, 3 of which have been already been paid, leaving the 1 first rounder that is top 5 protected for this upcoming draft. It is a debt that has to paid and a costly one that has long term repercussions for the franchise making it all harder to swallow considering they got nothing out of the Nash deal in return.Well, Nash is reportedly helping the young guys like Jordan Clarkson in his free time, you know, in between the golfing and climbing fences for fun as pictured on his Instagram account.
As it stands now, the Lakers are in decent position, possessing the 4th worst record in the NBA which places them 4th in the lottery standings. Here is a current look at the standings of worst records in the league courtesy of Tankathon.com.
Going by the lottery standings, with 25 games remaining for the Lakers they are only 1.5 games “ahead” of 5th place Orlando and 3.5 games “ahead” of a hard charging and collapsing 6th place Denver team; therefore, wins have costly repercussions.
We look at the projected win total for the Lakers and the 5 other teams at the bottom 6 of the NBA standings to get a better idea of how many more wins the Lakers can afford to win without dropping out of the critical landing spot of the bottom 5.
Those not familiar with the NBA Draft Lottery, ping pong balls are drawn to determine the top 3 picks in the draft out of the 14 teams that did not qualify for the playoffs. The worse the team’s record was during the season the higher percentage chance that team has of landing in the top 3. After the 3 teams are drawn the rest of the draft order goes by the team’s record starting from the worst down to the best.
The spot that the Lakers must reach to guarantee they remain in the top 5 is number 2 which is currently held by the Philadelphia 76ers who are 3.5 games ahead in terms of the lottery standings and losers of 6 of their last 8 games making them unlikely for the Lakers to catch. The same can be said about catching the New York Knicks who had lost 8 in a row before winning a game last night to break their streak.
That leaves the 3rd spot which still leaves a very small percentage chance of dropping out of the top 5 but it would require the highly unlikely scenario of 3 teams with lower odds to land one of the top 3 picks in the lottery to jump the Lakers. That 3rd spot is currently held by the Wolves and with the immergence of Andrew Wiggins and surge of energy with the return of Kevin Garnett they have the most potential to put together a decent run to close out the season and fall out of the bottom 5.
In their current spot of 4 that the Lakers currently hold it gives them some wiggle room to allow 1 team that is behind them in the lottery standings to jump them for a top 3 spot and still keep them in the top 5. It is not an ideal spot, but better than the even more precarious 5th spot which only takes one team to leap over the Lakers taking them out of the top 5 and without a first round pick, a scenario that is very possible and must be avoided if by all means.
The Orlando Magic and Denver Nuggets pose the biggest threat to leap over the Lakers in the lottery standings as they are closing in fast with every loss and Lakers win. The Nuggets are especially dangerous as they have really laid down for their competition having lost 17 of their last 19 games.
We take a look at how strong the competition is to close out the season for the bottom 6 teams.
To have endured a 2nd straight season where the Lakers hang around the bottom of the standings with no shot of making the playoffs, witnessing loss after embarrassing and painful loss, only to then at the end not get one of the promising young players out of the draft who would provide hope of becoming that star that will carry the franchise out of the doldrums and back to championship contention is an outright abomination.
We are nearing the stretch run of the season and following the Lakers’ 3 game winning streak it has made it dicey for retaining their position in the bottom 5 and that is frightening although you can’t tell going by the Lakers celebration after each win. The Lakers’ players have become the invited guests to the party who make a mess of the place leaving their carnage behind for you to clean up after its done.
The Lakers’ players will continue to play hard and win as they should. The fans will stand back hating every minute of it.
This isn’t an indictment of the players actions, just a sad observation of the current state of the Lakers franchise and the fans that follow them.