Remember the slight panic of the Los Angeles Lakers and the team’s brief housing in the upper portion of the lottery? That was fun, if you’re the type who feeds off of stress. Sans D’Angelo Russell and a more focused, Iggy Azalea-less Nick Young, LA has regressed, going 0-5 over its last five games.
Highlighted in last week’s edition of “Land the picks, Bryan,” the Lakers would have to compensate for its surprisingly effective shooters’ absences. Unable to overcome apathetic defensive performances and without a true point guard, Los Angeles is enduring a blend of adversity and lacking grit. Amidst a five-game stretch of allowing 100 points or more, Luke Walton is in a predicament.
Micromanaging a depleted, offensive-oriented roster, the first-year head coach will have to hone his inner sage and figure out a way to get his players focused. On the less glamorous end, sending help and rotating could be options to mitigate the lack of rim-protecting interior presences.
Luke Walton inserted rookie Brandon Ingram at the point last night against Phoenix; it wouldn’t be farfetched to believe he’d at least try the 6-foot-9 talent at the 5. It’s messy in Tinseltown, only adding to the appeal of a possible pick conveyance to the Sixers.
Team: Los Angeles Lakers (10-15)
Tankathon.com Ranking: 11th
Protections: 1-3 in 2017, unprotected in 2018
Analysis/Pick Status: The absences of Russell and Young have impacted Los Angeles more than what people presumed, but losing competent backup Jose Calderon as well has Luke Walton in a bind. Ingram’s brief charade as starting lead guard material has been exposed and the Lakers are consistently coming short tallying assists.
Feeding the ball to Lou Williams has certainly been optimal, who is playing like he’s back at South Gwinnett High School tearing up the opposition recently (34.2 PPG over the last four games). His poorly-timed offensive explosion was eye candy in the box score, inevitably failing to salvage his team’s poor defensive showings.
He might have to sustain this torrid scoring pace, with Julius Randle possibly missing time after aggravating a hip injury in Friday’s loss to the Suns. Teams circulating below LA in the standings like Washington and Denver don’t have these myriad of injuries to deal with. Keep focusing on Los Angeles’ situation and hope the slide continues: other teams’ surprising early season struggles could be a phase.
Chance of Pick Conveying: Key in on the guys mocked from picks 7-11 and hope the Lakers’ start was just a facade. The pick conveyance likely will materialize come June, albeit in less spectacular fashion than anticipated. However, getting two top-7 picks looks more likely now than it did last week.
Team: Sacramento Kings (8-14)
Tankathon.com Ranking: eighth
Protections: In 2017, Philadelphia has the right to swap first-round picks with Sacramento if the Kings’ pick lands in the top 10 post-lottery.
Analysis/Pick Status: Down 103-100 and Carmelo Anthony at the line, the Kings’ final hope was a perfect-from-the-line Melo missing both of his attempts and getting one last attempt. The aging, still effective small forward rimmed the first attempt and followed suit as DeMarcus Cousins corralled the ball. Taking a few dribbles to gain momentum, he heaved the penultimate look which, from 52 feet, circled around the rim and didn’t land through the cylinder.
That was one of Boogie’s 25 shot attempts on the night, an egregious amount for a center. He almost brought his Kings unit to overtime, but you can pinpoint the team’s loss to the 9-for-25 (0-for-6 from deep) clip from Cousins. He’s a polarizing talent. Lovers of analytics will turn to his numbers this season and echo his development. A career-high 28.2 PER from the former first-round pick highlights his progression as a versatile, impactful 5, but captaining the Kings’ ship has been a volatile journey.
As the trading period approaches, teams might try to capitalize on the rocky relationship. However, there are evident issues dealing for Cousins and shopping him. Some believe his presence isn’t worth adding to a foundation. If multiple teams have similar sentiments, the market for the big man drops considerably. Teams could wait out his stay in Sacramento to easily poach him in 2018.
Relating to the pick status with the Sixers, Boogie is undoubtedly keeping the Kings afloat in the lottery standings. The Kings have dropped four of its last five, but wins could be in the team’s immediate future, hosting the Lakers Monday and traveling to Memphis (depleted roster) and Dallas next weekend.
Chance of Pick Conveying: It wouldn’t be too catastrophic if the Kings ascend the standings and land outside of the top-8 picks. This class’ depth has been highlighted ad-nauseum and the Kings likely will get a valuable addition regardless of where it lands. However, the chance of landing a budding star to convince Boogie to stay in 2018 obviously declines. Like always, the pick swap seems unlikely to occur, but there’s long-term promise evaluating the Kings’ position if you’re a Sixers fan.