Photo via Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Lakers lose the pick
The Los Angeles Lakers losing the pick to the Philadelphia 76ers, which is more likely when strictly speaking numbers, is a road that still holds optimism, but is certainly built on an idealized sequence of events.
The Lakers would then have no choice but to stand pat with the young talent they have and look to the free agent market.
The Baby Lakers are already a talented bunch and should have no problem reaching the playoffs in a few years; however, there is no guarantee they can compete down the road with what they have.
Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell and forward Brandon Ingram still have star talent. Forward Julius Randle could very well be a fringe All-Star, but that seems unlikely to be enough to compete with the top squads in the Western Conference.
For example, the Golden State Warriors probably will still have four of the best players in the league, the Timberwolves squad features the brightest young star in basketball, center Karl-Anthony Towns and that still leaves the perennial contenders, San Antonio Spurs, led by superstar guard Kawhi Leonard.
As a result, the Lakers must go free-agent hunting.
There have been reports of Indiana Pacers guard Paul George plotting to become a Laker during in the summer of 2018. If they are able to land George, everything will be just fine, but a few things need to happen in order for this to truly be plausible.
Russell, Ingram, and Randle must make huge strides towards becoming dominant players in their own rights and Los Angeles would need to make the playoffs in the 2017-2018 season.
How likely is that going to happen? Who knows.
But it’s not hard to see that the future of the Lakers without a top pick seems incredibly cloudy. They will need to rely on the development of their young guns and the luster of their palm tree city to have any hopes of returning to the NBA’s elite.