It is safe to say that the Los Angeles Lakers are not going to make the NBA playoffs and now the team should be focused on losing.
The Los Angeles Lakers‘ 2018-2019 season has not gone how anyone expected. After defeating the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day and effectively hitting their peak in the process, the Lakers have stumbled all the way down to 30-35 with an extremely banged up roster.
The Lakers are six and a half games out of the playoffs with only 17 games left in the season. The Lakers would probably have to win 15 of their last 17 and that obviously is not going to happen.
The entire young roster is hurt and LeBron James isn’t giving maximum defensive effort. This team is not going to win 15 of the last 17 and it would be a miracle if the team even finished .500.
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Instead of focusing on finishing in a decent manner and missing the playoffs anyway, the Los Angeles Lakers would be much better off losing these final games. Even considering the idea of a LeBron James team tanking is hilarious but it would help the Lakers drastically.
The Lakers currently have the 12th-worst record in the league with a 1.3 percent chance at the first overall pick. Expecting the team to get the first overall pick and win the Zion Williamson sweepstakes is silly but the Lakers could easily move into the top-10 with a decent chance of the top five.
The number to circle is seven. The Los Angeles Lakers are two and a half games back of having the seventh-worst record, which currently belongs to the Atlanta Hawks (via Dallas) and Washington Wizards.
You could make the case that the team can make it to the sixth overall pick, which belongs to the Memphis Grizzlies. Anything past that is out of reach.
If Los Angeles manages to win three games or fewer (sounds miserable, I know, but it is for the best) then the team will have a case for gaining the two and a half games on Dallas (who isn’t trying to lose because they don’t have their pick) and Washington.
If the Lakers get to the seventh-worst record then the team will have a 6.8 percent chance of landing the top pick and a 22.5 percent chance of landing the top-three pick.
Having a pick that high in the draft would be massive. The team could pick a highly touted prospect, like R.J. Barrett, if they really wanted to. However, the last thing the team needs right now is more youth.
Having a pick this high allows the Lakers to make a trade for, say, Anthony Davis without having to include a third member of the young core, or perhaps even a second member. It is the most valuable thing the team can have in trade talks, even more valuable than these young players, because the Pelicans get to pick their prospect.
The most impactful thing the Los Angeles Lakers can do right now to win next season is to lose. It sounds redundant, but it is the truth.