The Los Angeles Lakers have been one of the hottest teams in the NBA over the past week, winning four straight games including beating a 60-win Spurs team and another playoff team in the Memphis Grizzlies.
In most cases, finishing what has been a rough season strong would be a good if not great sign for a team moving forward, especially a younger team like the Lakers are.
Not this time. The Lakers recent success could be absolutely catastrophic for the Lakers ability to rebuild themselves back into a playoff caliber team in the near future.
Because of the sign-and-trade they made for Steve Nash in the 2012 off-season, in which they sent a future protected 1st round pick to the Suns, who then moved the pick to the 76ers at the 2014 NBA trade deadline in order to acquire Brandon Knight (ouch).
That pick is only top three protected in the 2017 NBA Draft and with the Lakers string of wins over the last week, they now will have the 3rd highest draft odds for the NBA Draft Lottery on May 16, which basically means they have at best a 50% chance to keep their pick in what many see as a very talented NBA Draft.
Not having a high-caliber draft prospect as a reward for another season cellar-dwelling at the bottom of the league standings (their 4th straight season with one of the league’s seven worst records) would be crippling for a franchise trying to restore their glory and be able to land a big fish in free agency with their new leadership group in Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka.
That is the nightmare scenario that many NBA fans are fully aware of and have been all season.
There is another outcome of the Lakers losing their 2017 1st round draft pick that most are unaware of, and that is the result of a protected 1st round pick sent to the Orlando Magic in the trade for Howard in the 2012 off-season.
That trade included a 2017 protected 1st round pick, but the stipulation that is enacted if the Lakers are unable to forfeit their pick to the Magic this season, which would happen if it fell out of the top three and went to the 76ers, the Lakers would then owe their 2019 1st round draft pick to the Magic.
Yes that is right, if the Lakers fall out of the top three in the lottery this year, they could potentially lose two of their next three 1st round picks and at least one of them being the chance to draft a franchise altering player in the 2017 NBA Draft.
It’s pretty incredible how one bad off-season can still haunt an organization five to seven years later, just ask the Brooklyn Nets.