It’s NBA Draft Lottery Day…

Darius Soriano —  May 16, 2017

How are you feeling?

Maybe a little sick to your stomach? Maybe a little excited? Confident? Anxious? Nervous? Tense?

When it comes to being a sports fan, my default position is almost always to hope for the best and expect the worst.

Actually, let’s go on a brief tangent.

When it comes to being a sports fan, my mind naturally veers towards the strategy and nuance involved with the games. Most of my in-game experience, then, is seeking out those details and tying them to what helps win or lose that particular contest. Are you tagging the cutter? Are you holding that screen? Did you open up to the ball when you were supposed to? Why are your hands below your waist? Are you playing a beat ahead or a beat behind the action? And on and on it goes.

The lottery, though part of being a fan, is not a game. There is no nuance. Back in some secluded room a machine spits out numbered ping-pong balls into a sequence. Each sequence is assigned to a team, with the teams that have the worst records getting more sequences assigned to them. Based on the order those sequences are spit out, we have our lottery results. Then, representatives sit on stage sweating out the results they were not privy to back in that secluded room.

It can make for great theater. Especially this year when there are several teams who are dealing with pick protections and swap arrangements that can make a one spot difference in the results a total nightmare.

The Lakers, as you are well award of, are one of those teams. This, in and of itself, can be nerve wracking. For three straight years the Lakers have dealt with this. Which, in some ways, that makes it easier. The Julius Randle year*, I was so stressed out I could not sit still. I paced and paced and paced until the Lakers’ slot was revealed. The D’Angelo Russell year, I was a bit better. The Brandon Ingram year was better yet. This year, I honestly cannot say how I feel. It changes from moment to moment, from somewhat stressed to not stressed at all to pretty (expletive’ing) anxious.

Overall, though, I must say that I will be okay with whatever result occurs.

Before the season started I was convinced the Lakers would lose their pick. I thought they would win between 28 and 32 games (they won 26) and that it would take a win total closer to the teens (like 2016) to be near the top of the draft. That’s not how the season went, though. Save for the Nets, every team won into the 20’s. And that was with nearly every team at the bottom of the standings openly tanking down the stretch to bring down their total.

So, on the one hand, it would be severely disappointing for the Lakers to be in range to keep their pick and then have that not occur. You hope that you’re not in position to draft this high very often, but when you are you want that pick. When you add on how losing the 2017 1st rounder would also automatically convey the 2019 1st rounder to the Magic as part of the Dwight trade…yeah, that’s just a bad result to swallow.

On the other hand, though, there is no control at this point. There is no missed rebound or tough call from a ref or shot that goes halfway down only to rim out. Sure, you can point back to what the team could have done differently down the stretch of the season, but that’s a different can of worms I’m not going to open. Getting back to tonight, then, the results will be what they’ll be and will then offer clarity for the next three drafts:

1. Keep their top 3 pick, lose this year’s 2nd round pick (goes to the Magic), lose the 2018 pick, keep the 2019 1st round pick.

2. Lose their top 3 pick, keep this year’s 2nd round pick, keep the 2018 pick, lose the 2019 1st round pick (goes to the Magic).

Understand, there’s no bright side to scenario #2. No silver lining. You can spin it, somewhat, by saying that locking into the 2018 draft (which will be deep at the top) with their own pick and the potential for that to be in the lottery (where anything can happen) is nice or that by the time 2019 rolls around we hope the Lakers will be good enough for that pick to be in the teens. You can even say that if the Lakers lose this pick it’s because it fell to 4th – 6th, which means they lost a less valuable pick. And, believe, me, if that happens I’ll probably say all of those things later. Haha.

But, in the end, that’s just looking as positively as you can at a disadvantageous situation. The better scenario is #1. And I’ll be rooting for that. But, if it doesn’t happen, life will go on. And, if nothing else, we’ll no longer be worried about pick protections. Thank goodness.

Godspeed, Lakers.

*The year the Lakers drafted Julius Randle I was not nervous because of pick protections, but nervous because of where the Lakers would select relative to the number of players in the draft I liked. 7th (where Randle went) was the cutoff point for me. I was pretty much looking at 3 guys for that slot: Randle, Marcus Smart, and Aaron Gordon. I would have been happy with any of them, but by the end of my evaluation process was pretty much wanting Randle. 

Darius Soriano

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to It’s NBA Draft Lottery Day…

  1. With new team leadership, new ideas and renewed optimism, this will be a great journey this year.

    Hopefully the team will get lucky in the draft, but I see one player after the next come out of college with great fanfare, only to see them in the pros ” needing to develop a jump shot, learn to defend and mature.” We look back five years later when they are 24 years old and see results.

    With a 47% chance at lottery success, all we can do is cross our fingers and wait, going to sleep tonight with more ideas than ever.


  2. Obviously, the percentages dictate that the Lakers would rather have the 2017 and 2019 picks than the 2018 pick, but if they lose the picks it doesn’t doom the franchise. There may be a guy in the 2018 draft who is much better than Fultz, Ball or Jackson whom they may be able to land. Put another way: even if the ping-pong balls go their way tonight, the Lakers are still in a deep, deep crater.


    • A Horse With No Name May 16, 2017 at 4:17 pm

      Put another way: even if the ping-pong balls go their way tonight, the Lakers are still in a deep, deep crater.


      Attempt at self-parody? lol. Classic! You’re in great form!


  3. AttilasDaughter May 16, 2017 at 11:08 am

    Thank You for explaining the pick situation so clearly.
    This year I could not get excited about any player.

    Fultz looks like Russell 2.0 to me.
    Ball sucked in the tournament.
    I liked what his coach said about him though.
    Josh Jackson was okay but not much more.
    Fox is an exciting shooter but there are questions about defense.

    Nobody really stands out to me.
    So losing the pick means keeping the 2nd rounder and the 2018 1st rounder.

    Justin Jackson looked like he is ready for the NBA.
    Wonder why nobody talks about him.


  4. I miss Dr. Buss May 16, 2017 at 11:18 am

    Various great, well thought out and well written articles about the current generation of players list these guys as projects due to the rampant disregard for the foundation/ fundamentals of basketball in the coaching ranks in Jr high/high school/ AAU levels of basketball. By the time most of these guys get to the pros, the pro teams have to teach these guys those fundamentals along with all the off the court life strategists that teams are employing because most of these guys are still very immature and tremendously wealthy and most don’t know how to act right. Things these guys would have learned in college that most of us everyday people did when we got our 4 year degrees.

    That’s why teams need/ have a minor league/ D-G League to develop these guys now, at least on the fundamentals although having watched quite a few D League games, most of these guys are still lacking in the fundamentals of defensive footwork, boxing out for rebounds and even something as simple as passing the ball and ball handling seems to be lacking.

    That’s why I believe in Luke and his methodology, things he learned growing up from his dad and his time in the NBA, along with being coached by Lute Olson and learning from Kerr are being applied to these players. Whether they actually learn is up to these individuals.

    I believe that with the new cultural shift from Jeannie, Magic, Rob, Luke, down to the players, it’ll take some time to see the fruits of this process. I believe that once the team bring in guys with ability and great team character (an attribute that is always overlooked), things will change for the long term. You look at the teams like GS and San Antonio, there’s a harmony and family culture there. Since Popovich took over and the culture he had planted and instilled, they’ve had winning seasons for 20+ years. With all these new rules in the CBA, rules designed to limit our team’s old way of conducting business, we need to figure out ways to outdo other teams in the areas that would attract and retain talent. Things like the new team facility should help push this new culture/ phase/ chapter of the team.

    As fans of our beloved franchise, we have to be more realistic in team building, than set up unrealistic timelines for the team to get back into postseason contention. And at the same time hold the owner/family of the franchise to a standard of accountability when things go wrong with reasonable voices and our wallet as the need arises.

    Until Mozgov and Deng’s contract comes off the books and other obligations like the picks we owe to Philly and Orlando are done, our franchise’s aim and our fan expectations are to adjust accordingly until these debts are paid so we can truly rebuild with a clear conscience just like Jerry West so carefully did when he was our GM.

    Let’s give this new chapter/ regime some time to get us back to respectability where we can get meetings with all the top guys every year. That would be an indication that our team is moving in the right direction.


  5. Great read Darius, as always, and I agree. Never thought we would be here yet again.

    I truly hope this is the final year of tanking, though if we lose this pick, of course I will persevere along with the rest of my Lakers family.

    I will be trying to spot rays of sunshine, no matter how thin or fleeting, burst out of the thick clouds which have covered our skies for more years than I can recall, in a long while.


  6. My wife thinks I’m a nut, but this draft lottery business has me on pins and needles.

    On a side note: ESPN’s Insiders discuss a multitude of issues facing our Lakers.

    FYI: Insider’s pass is needed


    • Clay Bertrand May 16, 2017 at 1:32 pm

      NO ONE will talk to me today because apparently, I’m, “pissed off” and “Edgy”.

      These observations are pretty accurate I guess. I have a bad feeling this time…….I have a bad feeling the luck will run out tonight. I had a dream the Suns got the top spot and the Lakers dropped to 5th. I suppose its put me in a negative frame of mind.

      Whatever happens, we will still be here and so will Mozgov. This gives me comfort : /

      GO LAKERS!!!! No Matter What!!!!! LOSE FOR LUKA in 2018!!!!!!!!!!!!


  7. I don’t think scenario #2 is as bad as it’s being portrayed – yes, you’d rather keep assets than lose them, but the only reason the Lakers are in this spot right now is because they kept their previous picks (and, as a result, have a little bit of talent to build off).

    Plus, it clears the ledger, removing the incentive to tank moving forward.

    As long as they don’t pick 4th…then they will have squandered the opportunity to build momentum going into this year AND handed Philly a gem in a deep draft.


  8. What will you do on the day of reckoning,
    when disaster comes from afar?
    To whom will you run for help?
    Where will you leave your riches?
    Nothing will remain but to cringe among the captives
    or fall among the slain.


  9. One thing I`ve noticed in the last few years drafts is how many of the lottery choices have had serious enough injuries to miss an entire year or more to begin their NBA career. So the the draft becomes even more of a gamble where luck plays a very big role.I don`t see anybody this year that really stands out,a certain future All-Star.


  10. At the time of the Nash trade, I remember thinking that it was an all-in kind of move because of the high cost of those future draft picks. Hard to believe that the team will still be paying for it one way or the other for the next few years. It’s a sunk cost now, but a useful reminder for Magic and Pelinka to consider as plan for future.

    It’s funny how people discount the current value of future draft picks while also discounting the future value of our current high draft picks. I guess its human behavior to place more value on what you don’t have than what you do have.

    Whatever. Go Lakers!!!


  11. Alright, Lakers get the #2 pick !!


  12. Lakers keep their pick and will draft second.


  13. Man!! We got the 2nd pick again!!! That pick is the guft that keeps on giving. Unbeliavable luck!!!


  14. Feeling better now…


  15. Now it gets interesting! I’d say that the Ball is in their corner–or? Is there Magic in the air? I hope you have agenda #2 ready to roll . . .


  16. The 2018 pick is unprotected. No Tank Watch next year.


  17. Feeling shaky and sick all day.
    Now I’m feeling more than fine!!!
    Only negative is Celtics getting top pick, but I can live with that. Don’t even want to thin about what shape I’d be in I f they’d gotten it and we’d lost ours.


  18. Am I really the first to post? We got the #2 pick!!!!! I can hear everyone’s sigh of relief. We’re going to be fun to watch and better than people think.


  19. Eye_On_The_Prize May 16, 2017 at 6:16 pm

    Thank the Gods – the ping pong drawing was behind closed doors!!! #2 Perfect.


  20. woo hoo !!


  21. Kevin Pelton? @kpelton
    (*whispers*) I think this might be the best outcome for the Sixers. Big fan of the 2018 Draft.


  22. The Lonzo Ball era has begun! Are you ready?


  23. A year of silence and holding my breath. We keep the pick, have the 28th and only lose next years number one, by far the best case scenario. Assuming we draft Ball, Dlo and Julius are both on the clock. JC has proven himself to be quality 2 guard. Randle puts up stats but just doesn’t seem to have the stretch 4 range today’s game demands. Dlo…. not saying he’s a bust but damn he has under achieved. Randle and Dlo to the pacers for PG13? I don’t see it taking much more than that given his desire to come home. The pacers could trade him to someone else but what assets are a team gonna give up for a one year rental. There’s a lot to do but it’s looking up in Lakerland