About 10 games into the 2016-17 NBA season, I did not think I would have to read or write anything about this subject. The Lakers were looking really good and all the pieces looked like they were coming together. And the scary part was that No.2 overall pick Brandon Ingram wasn’t producing. So I was thinking “once we get Brandon in a groove and when he starts playing to his potential, this team can make a run in the playoffs”…
Nope. No. Not a chance. After starting the season 10-10, the Lakers are now 17-34. That is not good. Starting point guard and 2015 No.2 pick, D’Angelo Russell has been hampered by injuries. 2014 No.7 pick Julius Randle has been inconsistent . And 2016 No.2 pick Brandon Ingram has not produced and been a sub-par player this year.
That is not to say there isn’t hope. Russell can become a star in the league and has shown flashes of his brilliant passing gift and smooth 3-point stroke. Julius Randle is a tough player and double-double machine and has been good for the most part. And everyone knew Ingram would have trouble at first coming into the league; however, he has flashed superstar potential also.
But the Lakers have no chance at the playoffs. They have a much better chance at the lottery than the playoffs now. And thanks to the disastrous 2012 trades to get Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, the Lakers don’t have a lot of draft assets either. If they don’t fall in the top 3 of the lottery this year, they give their pick to the 76ers. And then the next year it goes to the Orlando Magic.
That is why this year it is imperative the Lakers keep their 2017 draft pick. If they do, the 2018 pick goes to the 76ers unprotected but the pick that was supposed to be the Magic’s becomes a second rounder and they will finally be done with all of that mess. This is the most important year to keep the pick. This draft class is deep. Deeper than probably any class we’ve seen since 2003. That is why the Lakers need to lose.
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My family will say that I’m not a true fan if I want my team to lose. But they don’t see the bigger picture. In order for the Lakers to be better in the future, they have to be bad now. Just ask the 76ers. Now I don’t think it will take the Lakers as long as it did Philly, because they still aren’t close, but the Lakers should take notice of what they did.
While the Lakers are young, they do have some quality veterans on the squad. Lou Williams, Nick Young, and Loul Deng are all good players that could contribute. Besides Deng, who’s contract is almost immovable, the others are quite movable and could get some quality pieces for them.
Trading Lou Williams could get either a first rounder for this year in case the Lakers lose theirs, or it could get them a young player to produce. The Lakers could use a player such as Jahil Okafor or Buddy Hield, and giving up Lou or a combination of Lou and Nick could get one of these assets. But the Lakers need to open their eyes and start seeing what everyone else sees. They have to stack assets.
While trading these veterans would lose a voice or two in the locker room, it would also give the younger players for the Lakers future a better chance to play more minutes and get more experience, which is very valuable. The more Brandon and D’Angelo play, the better they will get. But they need to continue to play them and stick with them. Winning games this season doesn’t matter. Winning games in the future is what matters and this will help.
I didn’t even touch on Ivica Zubac, Jordan Clarkson, and Larry Nance Jr. All of these are guys with 3 years or fewer experience and players that can produce and have shown they can be consistently good players. They hired the right coach in Luke Walton, and there is no denying the future is bright. Well, it can be bright. But every summer they are going to have to go to the gym and work harder than everyone else around the league. They need to get some Kobe in them.
Kobe showed up to work every single day. He loved it. He wasn’t having it if you weren’t working like him and would hold you accountable for it. That is why he is great. And that is why Kobe won championships. Until these Lakers get at least half the attitude Kobe Bryant had, they will not be what they have the potential to be.
(Featured Photo Credits: Getty Images)