The Los Angeles Lakers ended their season on a high note, winning five straight games before falling to the Golden State Warriors in the season finale. Many people would consider that win streak the exact opposite, however, believing it to be the worst thing the Lakers could do at the time.
The Lakers’ winning ways moved them ahead of the Phoenix Suns in the standings, thus lowering their odds of keeping their top-three protected draft pick this year. With such an important pick at stake, many fans were rooting for the Lakers to continue losing, something point guard D’Angelo Russell just can’t get behind.
Russell spoke with Drew Ruiz of SLAM Magazine about the idea of tanking, noting that while he understands how it affects the odds of the draft pick, he has no idea how someone could just want to lose:
“This year was the first year I got to be part of a—what you would consider—tanking. Last year I was too, but with Kobe, I had no idea what that meant. This year, I guess we were supposed to lose, you know? We started winning and a lot of fans were getting upset. It plays a percentage or whatever in us getting better with that pick, but I just don’t understand why you want to lose. How can you go out there and try to lose?”
As many have pointed out before, it is just not in a player’s mentality to try and lose on purpose. Their job is to go out and try to win every night. One could argue that a player who is simply willing to give up is not someone a team trying to rebuild would want around.
This season was a roller coaster for both Russell and the Lakers, but progress was certainly made. Of course, everyone is hoping for the team to keep the draft pick and continue the rebuild, but all of that is now out of everyone’s hands.