Culver City Observer -

Lakers' Recent Winning Streak Weakens Their Lottery Position

 

January 7, 2016

By Mitch Chortkoff

It's not a pleasant subject among NBA folks. But it can't be ignored.

Teams hopelessly out of playoff contention can benefit from falling even further behind because the lower they go the better odds they'll have for the annual draft lottery.

The Lakers are one of those teams. So some fans cringed among those who cheered when the Lakers went on a three=game winning streak in the last week.

Included was a rout of a struggling Phoenix team which was held to only 22 points in the first half.

The Lakers were showing improvement but they came back to earth Tuesday night when they were trampled by the defending champion Golden State Warriors at Staples Center.

The Philadelphia 76ers are the NBA's worst team and had only one win in their first 31 games – a victory over the Lakers.

High-ranking officials in the NBA office have applied pressure on the 76ers' owner, who has been on a four-year mission to acquire draft picks through trades rather than keeping the 76ers' best players.

About 70 percent of 76er players this season weren't drafted. The 76ers would often do all right for awhile but were badly outscored in fourth quarters by more experienced players on opposing teams. NBA players were taking over games against D-League caliber opponents wearing 76er uniforms.

The 76ers changed their strategy in the last few weeks, hiring former NBA coach Mike D'Antoni as an assistant and making a trade for NBA veteran point guard Ish Smith.

The 76ers became much more competitive and quickly increased their win total to four.

It looked like the 76ers were going to pass the Lakers, which would mean the Lakers would have the best chance of any team (albeit only a 25 percent chance) to pick first.

The prize would be Ben Simmons, a 6-foot-9 freshman forward at LSU who NBA experts agree will be the first player drafted in June.

Some NBA experts believe he'll be the closest to LeBron James in a draft in the last 10 years.

The team with the second worst record, currently the Lakers, would have a 21 percent chance of getting the first pick.

But the Lakers improved their victory total to eight so getting number one in the lottery is less likely.

Tough-minded Laker coach Byron Scott reacts harshly to any suggestion the Lakers aren't trying their best.

Some fans believe a few more losses would go a long way toward acquiring Simmons. This season is lost anyway, they reason, so what's a few more setbacks?

In Tuesday's game the distance between the Warriors and Lakers was astonishing. Golden State operates as a team with skill, confidence and the expectation of victory.

The Lakers were confused, beaten, outscored 22-0 in one stretch and yes, hopeless.

"Our 33-2 record is unbelievable," said Warrior guard Clay Thompson, who scored 22 points in the first quarter and finished with 34.

"It's hard to go 33-2 in high school. Now we have it in the best league in basketball."

Bosmat Eynav contributed to this article

 

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