Preparing for the worst: What happens if the Lakers lose their lottery pick?

With only five games left and a 1.5-game advantage over the Phoenix Suns for the third-worst record in the league, the Lakers are sitting in a dangerous position before the NBA draft lottery next month. The Lakers’ chances of retaining their top-three pick are dropping as the wins start to pile up for them during the final stretch of the season.

The Lakers have a 46.9 percent chance of keeping their pick, an essential coin flip to determine a start to a great offseason or a poor one. The odds of retaining the pick are looking bleak for the Lakers, so what would happen if they do lose their lottery pick next month? Let’s check out the scenarios and possibilities.

2018 pick will be secure

If you need a reason to be slightly less sad when the Lakers lose their pick, looking forward to 2018 could be one. The Lakers won’t have to worry about being in the lottery next year or not because whatever their standing is at the end of the season, they will absolutely keep their pick. For one year, fans won’t have to worry about percentages or scenarios; they can sit back and relax knowing that the Lakers will have their first-round pick come next May.

Say goodbye to the 2019 pick

One of the advantages of keeping this year’s lottery pick is that it would ensure the Lakers of maintaining their 2019 first-round pick with no protections. That is, the Lakers would keep the pick regardless of the standings. No one knows where the Lakers will be in terms of development and progress in 2019 so this pick may not be as determinantal to their morale; however, conveying this pick – a guarantee if 2017’s pick is conveyed – means they will give up an asset that could prove to be valuable down the road.

More time to focus on future star players

The Lakers have been extremely fortunate for the last couple of years in not only keeping their picks but also drafting players that have shown tremendous upside in D’Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram. Although it would be nice to add another player from this year’s draft to that core, it wouldn’t be an absolute assurance that he would be as good or better than those two players.

What the Lakers do have right now in Russell and Ingram are players that have the potential to ascend the franchise’ future. Russell and Ingram’s performance in the last few months is a perfect glimpse of their upside and potential for years to come. Losing this year’s pick would hurt, but that would allow the Lakers to keenly focus more extensively on Russell and Ingram.

Trading for a star player would be difficult

There have been talks that the Lakers are looking to test the trade market during the offseason. A lot of those rumors involve Paul George. Realistically, the Lakers should wait to go after George in the 2018 free agency.

A trade for the Pacers’ forward would have likely included the Lakers’ top-three pick this year, packaged with their pick from the Rockets and a few young players as well. And that might not be enough for the Pacers to say yes, but losing this year’s pick would essentially shut down that trade discussion for better or for worse.

Fans won’t be sitting on the edge in 2018

These past few weeks have been a nightmare for Lakers’ fan as the wins start to pile up and the sight of the ping-pong balls decreasing. We all want the Lakers to keep their pick this year, and they still have a semi-decent chance to do so. It has been an exhausting phenomenon to cheer for the Lakers to lose so they can secure a better future. If the worst happens next month, it would be nice come 2018 when we don’t have to have a panic attack during the NBA draft lottery day. It would be awesome to be able to distinguish losses from wins and not the reverse.

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