The National Basketball Association season has been an unforgettable one to watch thus far.
In just one season, NBA fans have had the honor of witnessing the finale of one of the most legendary careers in sports history in Los Angeles Lakers’ superstar, Kobe Bryant. While Bryant has done more for the Lakers’ franchise than ever imagined, he is now ending his career at the correct time.
This year alone, the Black Mamba will be receiving 25 million dollars for his play, with the next highest-paid player on the team being starting center, Roy Hibbert, with 15 million. Although these players are paid the most, they are not the ones giving the greatest contributions to the team.
Bryant brought five championships to Los Angeles in his 20-year career, however, the team is now farther than ever from competing for the title.
The Lakers currently hold a record of 15-59, making them the worst team in the Western Conference and only putting them ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers in the standings of the entire NBA.
While this is difficult to get through for a franchise such as the Lakers, they do have hope for the future.
In 2012, the Lakers made a blockbuster trade for Phoenix Suns two-time MVP point guard, Steve Nash. In the deal, the Lakers agreed to give up four draft picks, with three of them already gone, one still remains.
The Suns acquired a top-five protected first-round pick from Los Angeles for the 2015 draft, which they would soon trade to the 76ers. Although the Lakers traded this pick away, they were able to maintain it for last year’s draft due to the top-five protection clause as they earned the second overall pick in the draft lottery.
The Lakers would use this pick to select Ohio State’s standout point guard, D’Angelo Russell.
Since the Lakers were able to retain the pick last year, Philadelphia will now receive it for this season, under one condition. If the Lakers are one of the top three teams selected in the 2016 draft lottery, they will once again keep the pick for the upcoming draft. However, if the Lakers receive a pick anywhere outside of the top three, then it will officially become the 76ers’ pick.
In a situation where the Lakers are able to use the pick in this year’s draft, there would be many options available for them to choose from. These choices would include Duke’s star small forward, Brandon Ingram, Oklahoma’s three-point specialist shooting guard, Buddy Hield, and arguably the best player in college basketball today, Louisiana State University’s freshman power forward, Ben Simmons.
The Lakers’ current roster is already filled with young guards, Russell and Jordan Clarkson, therefore, Simmons or Ingram would seem to be the most logical choice for the franchise.
Simmons, who was the high school teammate of Lakers’ starting point guard, Russell, could help bring the strong point-forward play that he is capable of to LA’s front court. Although Simmons posted incredible stats in college, averaging about 19 points and 12 rebounds, many do question the level of competitiveness in his game, something that he would need to improve immediately if he was to be selected by the Lakers.
Ingram, who averaged about 17 points, 7 rebounds and a block and a half per game, has often been compared to a few of the NBA’s top players today, including Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant. The freshman Blue Devil is quite a unique player due to his incredible length and talented guard skills, while also standing at 6’9”. The Lakers could desperately use a player such as Ingram for their future, as they look for a scorer to help replace the loss of Bryant.
If the Lakers are fortunate enough to select one of these top college players, they would be taking a significant step towards their goal of rebuilding the franchise.
This Lakers season will most likely go down as the worst in team history, but there have been some bright spots this year with their talented rising stars. With the season now coming to a close, with the draft, as well as free agency soon approaching, the Lakers may be able to take a turn for the better in the near future.