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Land the Picks, Bryan: Lakers fail to gain traction on Phoenix

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Los Angeles didn’t win a game this past week. However, there are opportunities to claim that elusive 22nd victory.

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Minnesota Timberwolves Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The results from this week’s slate of games was anything but “tanktastic.” Saturday, Los Angeles lost by double digits, a second-half implosion from Orlando resulted in a defeat at Brooklyn, and Sacramento’s bench overwhelmed Minnesota’s in a Kings victory. Philadelphia averted the golden sombrero, as Portland downing Phoenix helped the Sixers avoid four strikeouts.

Perfect outcomes in Philadelphia’s favor are incredibly rare, although Elfrid Payton converting a game-winning layup at Boston and Sacramento conceding down 18 against the Clippers over the past week would’ve been ideal. As the Sixers head to Toronto at 28-48, and No. 5 in the lottery standings, they need positive results until the season concludes. Luckily, there’s a prime opportunity for the Lakers to relieve some worries and win games this week.

Team: Los Angeles Lakers (21-55)

Tankathon.com Ranking: Second

Protections: 1-3 in 2017, unprotected in 2018

Analysis/Pick Status:

Hosting a Marc Gasol-less Memphis Grizzlies today, Luke Walton’s unit could succumb to exhaustion from the second game of a back-to-back. However, distributing 23 minutes or more to eight players Saturday and utilizing his depth, the Lakers might be somewhat refreshed before tipoff. Additionally, other, valuable members of David Fizdale’s rotation will rest Sunday.

Without Gasol, JaMychal Green, and Vince Carter, Troy Daniels will likely slide into Carter’s starting spot while the Grizzlies’ roster continues to thin. Walton’s opted for a 10-man rotation lately, and his bench has almost salvaged the starters’ regular deficits.

Even with Memphis’s trio of contributing players out, Los Angeles can’t escape the Mike Conley problem. Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell both had inconsistent weeks, and their ability to limit the stud will be crucial. All the luck to the tandem.

A trip to San Antonio Wednesday doesn’t inspire hope for a Lakers win, but their contest Friday is substantially intriguing. Buddy Hield, Willie Cauley-Stein and Ty Lawson (maybe?) come to Tinseltown seeking another road upset. This is one of the more attainable games for Luke Walton to come away victorious in.

With Phoenix running a gauntlet of Houston, Golden State, and Oklahoma City at home over the next three games, Los Angeles can realistically match Phoenix’s 22-win mark by Friday night while the Suns continue their extended ineptitude.

Chance for Pick Conveyance:

It’s coming down to how much desire and effort the Lakers show on the court over the next six games.

Team: Sacramento Kings (30-47)

Tankathon.com Ranking: Seventh

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:

Sacramento’s loaded with guys who could care less about tanking implications and who covet wins. Twice this week, the Kings foiled contenders’ plans to plow over a lottery team and focus on other NBA powers on their schedules. The Clippers and Grizzlies should’ve discarded the Kings with ease, but there’s a no-quit, brash attitude from Sacramento that you don’t get with some other lottery teams.

Credit Dave Joerger, whose roster’s comprised of castoffs and developing, unproven commodities. Cauley-Stein looks rejuvenated and responding to critics who prematurely labeled him a bust, Lawson was one of the league’s most potent second unit point guards in March, and Buddy Hield is seemingly more comfortable in this environment.

With a two-game slate against Dallas and Los Angeles this week, the upstarts could pull off a mini winning streak. Sacramento’s submerging the Sixers’ hopes for a top-three lottery outcome or landing the No. 1 pick, but making their own pick weaker directly affects the Sixers’ future.

Minnesota looks to be on a linear progression from last season to this one, and Dallas would have just one more loss than the Kings if they drop games against Milwaukee and Sacramento.

Chance for Pick Conveyance:

Progressively worse with a chance to be “unlikely.”