The Los Angeles Lakers will get the second overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, which is a fine return for a shit-filled season of tanking that very nearly went up in flames thanks to an inexplicable five-game winning streak at the end of the year. Not only is the team in the driver’s seat to pick Lonzo Ball, whose dad expressed a very strong preference for him to stay in L.A., but they dodged a bullet in the process.
When the Lakers traded for Steve Nash and Dwight Howard in 2012, they gave up a bevy of first-round picks for what they thought would be a pair of superstars. Howard wilted next to the domineering presence of Kobe Bryant and Nash got all old and fucked up within a matter of months. Suddenly, those first-rounders were not ceremonial chips in the late 20's of the draft, they were potentially foundational pieces. The Suns traded their 2017 Lakers pick to the Sixers, and the Magic held onto theirs.
However, because of the vesting schedules for both picks, L.A. had a chance to lose both picks tonight if they landed outside of the lottery. Instead, they got the second pick and kept the 2019 pick. Philly will inherit L.A.’s 2018 pick and Orlando gets two second round picks, but the swing between losing a pair of high picks and getting the second choice in what looks like a very good draft is monumental. Rarely does one lottery decide so much about the future of a franchise. The Lakers won’t be tanking next season, and whatever they give Philly will probably not be slated for the top-three again. Magic Johnson will get (probably) another highly rated guard to build around.
The funniest scenario here, of course, would be Boston picking Lonzo Ball, which seems like something that would enrage the Lakers braintrust and plenty of fans. The Lakers got very lucky today, but this could still get funnier.