Oh. “Better Lottery Odds” actually isn’t an NBA team, you say? My mistake. The Lakers play the Suns tonight. But the title of this post is actually more accurate. You see, even though the Suns have won 3 of their last 4 games and are play well lately, that matters less than the fact that it’s the Suns who are two games up in the standings (and loss column) on the Lakers. This game has real lottery implications.
A Lakers win puts that difference at only a single game with only 17 games left on the schedule. That small a margin could easily equate to the Lakers finishing with a better record than the Suns which flip the odds of the Lakers keeping their top 3 protected pick from 55.8% to 46.9%. That margin may not be huge, but it is statistically significant and would mean only one team would need to jump from outside the top 3 to inside it to move the Lakers’ pick into the 76ers’ hands.
In other words, the specifics of the Lakers’ opponent matters but not as much as the implications of the outcome. I wish we were done with years where this were the case. Maybe next year.
Anyway, with that, I’d love to talk to you about the matchups between the young players on both teams. How I always look forward to seeing how D’Angelo Russell plays against good friend Devin Booker. How I’m interested in seeing how Julius Randle deals with the athleticism and length of Marquese Chriss. How I want to see how Brandon Ingram matches up with TJ Warren. On any other night under most other circumstances, those things would matter much more to me.
Tonight, though, these lottery implications really do take center stage. This isn’t to say I am rooting for the Lakers to lose. I’m not really capable of doing that. It’s just not in my heart to do it. But, my head does understand how these things work. The logic side of my brain fully grasps how much the standings game matters here and how it can impact things in May when the lottery order is determined.
This is the battle I think all Lakers fans are facing each night now, me included. I want the young players to do well. I want competitive games where the team plays hard. I’d even like them to win a few more games simply to feel the reward of hard work and see the correlation between effort and positive results. How those goals bump up against the realities of the draft picks the team still owes are a difficult situation to navigate from a rooting interests standpoint.
And, in that regard, there’s probably not a bigger game than the one vs. the Suns on Thursday.
Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time on TNT.
Daniel in Venice says
Luke has been doing a great job as a Tank Commander. Give the young core lots of different looks, make every game a teaching experience, bring Z along, stay competitive and lose by 10. It’s a tough job but Luke has been great.
Clay Bertrand says
I’m rooting for the Lakers to become a winning organization again and a winning basketball team again. Which is why I am rooting for them to lose tonight’s game and all of the rest of them as well. The changes at the top have been made and very likely they will not be undone by The Bee Bees (The Brothers Buss).
The new regime is already saddled with THE DENGOV albatross(es), the future owing of 2-3 potentially high draft picks and a very young, bottom dwelling team. We need for them to have as much in the way of assets to improve as possible. They are starting with far from a clean slate here after all.
I dread the day when we have to root for a big games from Clarkson or Nance so their trade value is boosted just so that we can better attach one or both of them to Deng or Mozgov to get their horrendous deals off the roster. I consider their deals DEAD MONEY as far as the cap is concerned. The NBA doesn’t have DEAD MONEY like the NFL does………but a dead man could play better than Deng so………Dengov=Dead Money.
I know I constantly harp on Deng and Mozgov. I just feel very tortured and little sorta betrayed that I even gave these signings the benefit of the doubt and wanted to believe the FO knew something we didn’t. Maybe its because I gave them this leeway initially that I am so damn bitter now. The signings were horrendously bad. Some teams signed some bad deals. BUT only the Lakers signed TWO BAD DEALS!!!!!!!!!!!!!
They are blatantly the 2 biggest obstacles to more immediate improvement of the team. Their deals are outright crippling and for a guy like Mitch, who has had such credibility and respect for years upon years to sign off on these deals is astounding, disappointing, and worthy of the harshest criticism that can be leveled at him.
Hearing him try to explain these deals would be like the Nuremberg Trials. NO EXCUSE OR EXPLANATION COULD POSSIBLY BE GOOD ENOUGH to warrant letting him slide.
Ultimately, to me at this point, rooting for lost battles in the Lakers’ case means rooting for winning the war.
The Lakers needed the win tonight for their morale. It was good to see the youth play in the 4th quarter and get to close the game. If they were serious about tanking, Deng and Mosgov would still be starting. Instead we get to see players who still have the ability to run to both ends of the floor. The best part of the game was seeing Randle and especially Nance taking open shots in the 4th quarter. Nance did not hesitate and instead locked in and had a relatively quick release. More please.
Rick in Seattle says
I’m as angry as anyone over the Deng-Mosgov deals last summer. After the team repeatedly stated they were not going spend big money on mediocre talent, they did just that! Hopefully after a little time passes, we hear the true story of how/why these deals went down. Kupchak does not have a history of operating like that. But they also went thru a painful period of 4 coaches in 6 years which didnt exactly instill confifence in the front office.
The Lakers history has always been to reload, not rebuild from scratch. Yes, this rebuild has kind of been a new experience for them.
But the Deng-Mozgov free agency choices raised questions around the entire NBA. The Lakers steller reputation was questioned. I recall people asking, “is this the new trend? Do the Lakers know something we dont know?”
By early November, it was becomming clearer that the Lakers had rushed into two very poor signings–even though the team tried to put out the best spin possible.
And for that blunder, Buss & Kupchak paid with their jobs–and deservidly so.
To change the direction of an organization, it must begin at the top–and it appears Jeanie finally had enough. I suspect she offered Magic’s position to Phil, and when he chose to remain in New York, she went shopping locally. Kudos to her for making the change.
While I am clearly no insider, it seems quite reasonable to anticipate that the new team of Johnson & Pelinka will throw new energy into reviving the Lakers historic quest for titles.
Right now, the current core players should be just a little concerned about their future on the team. After his recent public discussions with Magic, do any of you think that its any coincidence that Russell has been playing with more focus & energy of late. Uner the new regime, he had better up his game, or his future may be in Indiana (or New Orleans)!
There will certainly be considerable assessment going on for the remainder of this season. In a way politically similar to President Trump, the new Lakers front office probably has a bit of political capital to spend as they choose–a sort of honeymoon period! After that, fans (as well as Jeanie), will have raised expectations.
Their first real decision will be placed in their lap for them–whether the ping pong balls role in their favor–and if so, what they do with it. That decision will be after May 16. Until then, they need to continue assessing their existing roster, as well as any additional young players they can bring in. It should be interesting!