Lakers get wink from lady luck with NBA Draft Lottery

first_imgNevertheless, it ends an unbroken string of disasters going back to their last title in 2010: the Dallas sweep, Dwight Howard passing through, Steve Nash’s 62 games, Kobe Bryant going down, coming back for eight games in 2013-14, signing a two-year, $48.5 million extension and lasting 35 games in last season’s comeback.• Related: Could next season be Kobe Byrant’s last?A catastrophe just as great seemed to beckon, with a 17-percent chance of falling out of the top five and having to convey their top pick to complete the Nash trade.For once, it seemed after years of worst-case scenarios, they lucked out, as they used to all the time.Overmatched Boston Coach Rick Pitino once famously announced, “Larry Bird is not walking through that door, fans. Kevin McHale is not walking through that door, and Robert Parish is not walking through that door. And if you expect them to walk through that door, they’re going to be gray and old.”Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal aren’t walking through the Lakers’ door, either. All-time greats are made, not hyped, but they’ll get a major prospect and who knows where he goes from there?Which major prospect remains to be seen. Happily for the Lakers, this draft, once considered so humble, looks to far surpass the celebrated Class of 2014.• Related: Who will Lakers end up with in NBA Draft?With the first pick, Minnesota will almost certainly choose between centers Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor.Towns is taller, faster, a much better defender, a major comer on offense and almost everyone’s favorite.Minnesota, however, likes Okafor, too. We’re not likely to have a clue who the T-Wolves will pick until Adam Silver reads the name June. 27.At No. 2, the Lakers are expected to take whichever big man falls.If it’s Towns, they bag him, no questions asked, feeling like they got the top pick, after all.If it’s Okafor, the Lakers figure to take him, but I don’t think that one is the same kind of lock.Both players ducked the combine where we find out true sizes. In previous measurements in stocking feet, Okafor was 6-9 1/2 to Towns 6-10 3/4.Worse, for all his Tim Duncan-like skill level, Okafor looked like he was nailed to the floor at Duke.It’s actually a good sign that Okafor was overweight and in bad condition, often coming out after 10-minute bursts and coasting on defense.He has since lost 12 pounds and can be expected to move around better — as Duke’s Jabari Parker did a year ago.The Lakers have to be thinking, “If we don’t get a good big man here, how and when would we ever get one?Nevertheless, they’re aware there are two more major prospects at the other key position, point guard — Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell and Emmanuel Mudiay, who played in China.Russell is more of a known quantity, a shooting guard who converted brilliantly to the point. He has good size, athleticism, is a great passer and is a great shooter in an age in which that’s all-important.Mudiay, the Congo native raised in Texas, is the more athletic, exciting one with the greater upside, if not the established shooting stroke.Both are capable of blowing the Lakers’ doors off. Everyone loves Russell but two of the sharpest NBA people I know insist Mudiay’s better.One way or another, the Lakers will get a major prospect. With their Nos. 27 and 34 picks, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle, they’ll finally put some young, exciting vision of their future on the floor with whatever Bryant has left.If the good old days aren’t back, better ones soon will be.With their spoiled fans having been un-spoiled with a vengeance, there’s joy in Lakerdom that’s not based on denial. Since 1980, the other local major league teams won five combined.• Related: Behind the scenes look at how Lakers got No. 2 pickNot that we’re talking dynastic restoration quite yet.If drawing the No. 2 pick in Tuesday’s lottery was their best, or only good, moment in five years, GM Mitch Kupchak reminded fans it won’t lead them into the 2016 Finals.Of course, he was being diplomatic. It’s not likely to lead them into the 2016 playoffs, either. The Lakers are back. … OK, part way.All right, it’s a small part in a tradition that’s not just the usual huckstering.Winning 10 NBA titles since 1980 is why they still eclipsed the Dodgers, Clippers, Kings and Ducks — who were going deep in the playoffs through the Laker dark years when their feats existed only in memory.The closest anyone in the NBA came to the Lakers since 1980 are the Bulls with six titles.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img