The Los Angeles Lakers finished an otherwise forgettable season on a high note. The struggling franchise won five of their last six games of the 2016-17 campaign, therefore, hurting their chances of retaining their top-three protected pick in the upcoming 2017 NBA Draft.
Lakers president of basketball operations, Magic Johnson, recently made an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live and talked about the Los Angeles franchise. Johnson was asked about the late-season winning streak and how it hurt the team’s chance of keeping their pick. Magic was a bit conflicted at the time, but saw some benefit in getting a few wins:
“I was saying, ‘Oh, it’s good, but damn, we’re winning’ [laughs]. No, I wanted us to taste winning,” Johnson said. “We’ve been losing for four years. I wanted the guys to experience what it felt like to win, because if you never get that feeling…you’ll never know how it feels. So we’re going to carry that into next season.”
Once the playoffs were out of the question for the Lakers, the team focused on developing the young players and didn’t exactly put an emphasis on winning, but rather improving and building for the future.
Rookie Brandon Ingram came into his own during the team’s final stretch of the season and began to show why the team has been so high on him since selecting him second overall in the 2016 NBA Draft. A few other players began to shine late in the season as well with D’Angelo Russell, Tyler Ennis, and David Nwaba making an impression.
Although it was a promising finish for the Lakers, the fact remains that the team’s chances to keep their lottery pick took a severe blow. Los Angeles went from having a 55.8 percent of retaining their pick to 46.9 percent as a result of the Phoenix Suns finishing with a worse record (24-58).
Johnson and the Lakers brass will learn their fate on May 16 in the NBA Draft Lottery. If their pick falls out of the top three, the Lakers will send their lottery pick to the Philadelphia 76ers.[Transcription via Robby Kalland of UPROXX.com]