By Craig Kwasniewski
Is it like riding a bicycle... maybe, but with a lot of rust...
Anyway, to me tomorrow is a win-win situation for the Lakers no matter what happens in the lottery. No seriously. Yes the Lakers have roughly a 1 in 6 chance at losing a shot at a potential franchise-changing pick and yes it would be excruciatingly brutal to watch the karma-challenging 76ers get rewarded for continually taking advantage of their mental midget fans. But win or lose, the Lakers are better off.
Obviously keeping the pick is the goal and people have already thoroughly analyzed they types of players available in the top 5 slots. So instead let's look at benefits of losing the lottery. Here are 3 C's to cheer you up (hey, at least it's not D's or F's):
1 - Closure - Losing the pick officially ends the Steve Nash era. I'm not calling it the worst trade in franchise history... we all were on board with it back in 2012. But the long-suffering will finally be over. No more picks being traded to Phoenix and no more gut-wrenching Steve Nash injury reports. We just need to sign the final papers and the divorce is over... on with our lives.
2 - Clarity - No more if's and could be's, the Lakers have results and can move forward. No more speculation or even worse, knotted stomachs with the worry of losing the pick. They have their 1st and 2nd round picks to focus on and now it's time to fill out the draft board.
3- Contingency Plan - This is the key here... let's look back at May of 2014. The Lakers had ONE first round pick and were just coming off actually losing a spot in the 2014 lottery. Mike D'Antoni was on his way out and early predictions had the Lakers falling just out of potential franchise player range after dropping down in the draft. Mix in Kobe's knee and things were bleak. 2 months later, Julius Randle fell right in their hands and the Lakers bought a second round pick and used it on Jordan Clarkson, that guy who was just named NBA All-Rookie First Team. Randle's injury was a step back but in no way career-threatening and he showed he has the skills to play 3/4 in this league. Not too shabby given the limited resources.
Moving forward to 2015, the Lakers put together a decent contingency plan by taking Jeremy Lin off the the Rockets hands for their 2015 first round pick. Worst case they're sitting on the 27th (from Houston) and 34th overall (Lakers 2nd round) picks in the draft, essentially two late 1st round or two early 2nd round picks. The key here is that there will be talent available at that spot. Add in Ryan Kelly and arguably Robert Sacre (hey, he's a cheap practice big that can play emergency minutes... did I mention he's cheap) and three years in a row the Lakers have found NBA-level talent in the second round... not easy in today's game.
Obviously it would be nice to keep the pick let alone win the lottery, but it really isn't gloom and doom if for some reason they fall out of the top 5. They just need to continue to draft smartly.