When the 2013-14 season started, the Los Angeles Lakers had no plans of punting the season. There was major optimism that the team would have a bounce-back year with a healthy Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash without the distraction of Dwight Howard. But they couldn’t predict one of the worst wave of injuries to a team the NBA has ever seen.
In an amazing turn of events, the Lakers went from a playoff seed right before Christmas to now the bottom of the Western Conference. The purple and gold now have the fascinating distinction of being the team that is unintentionally tanking. Kind of like unintentional comedy. For optimistic Lakers fans, it might be an unintentional blessing in disguise as their team has a very realistic shot at a top five pick in this year’s stacked draft. It’s the consolation prize they have after every painful-to-watch loss that occurs this year.
At the top of the list of college prospects has to be Kansas center Joel Embiid by way of Cameroon. Embiid moves like a guard, and has defensive instincts I haven’t seen since Dikembe Mutombo and Alonzo Mourning. He has only played basketball for only a few years, and once he becomes more comfortable in the post, the sky is the limit.
Several other prospects remain including Duke‘s Jabari Parker, Oklahoma State‘s Marcus Smart, Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins and Kentucky‘s Julius Randle. With Parker and Smart being able to immediately contribute and help a team next season.
With the torrent pace of losing the Lakers are on right now, only the Milwaukee Bucks can say for sure they will end up with a worse record. Los Angeles is now 3-15 in their last 18 games and there is nothing fluky about it. If you need the math, that is a .166 win percentage, if you extrapolate that over 82 games — it would net you 13-14 wins on the season.
Don’t be surprised if it comes down to the Lakers and Bucks in “The Need for Embiid.”