The Lakers’ biggest goal should be to keep their 2017 draft pick

Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Lakers

Magic Johnson is now back in the fold with the Los Angeles Lakers but his first task as an advisor might not be something that he is not well equipped to deal with. He must somehow sell the impatient fanbase and executives on the need to tank the rest of the season.

Losing is just not accepted in the L.A. market as fans have been extremely vocal about their displeasure with the on-court product for multiple seasons now. Some would say a franchise as decorated as the Lakers are “above” tanking.

Meanwhile in reality, the team has fallen even further behind the eight ball as the season has rolled on and the team is beginning to look like what the roster indicated it would be before the season started.

The City of Angels is home to a team filled with youthful pieces that are starting to figure it out and random veterans that are either on wildly bloated contracts or ill-suited for the rest of the roster. Finishing with the number eight seed in the Western Conference isn’t going to change that.

Nick Young’s renaissance and Lou Williams’ bounceback season are nice stories but do they help the development of the young players sitting directly behind them in the depth chart? The answer is a firm no.

Another worrisome fact for the Purple and Gold is that if they don’t qualify for a top-three pick this summer, it goes directly to Philadelphia and their 2019 first round pick goes to Orlando. Room for error is at an all-time low as the franchise must hit this pick out of the park to avoid mediocrity.

Los Angeles Lakers v Dallas Mavericks

Kobe’s presence last year was a gift to both the front office and the fans because they could mask the quality of their team behind the valiant farewell tour of an aging superstar. Fast forward to now and Bryant rode off into the sunset and the club is still without a real map for the future.

Luke Walton and his coaching principles seem to be helping but the talent level just isn’t there yet. In order to get back to respectability, the franchise will have to build organically through the draft which is completely foreign to fans of the club.

Free Agency used to be a one-stop shop for Lakers during down periods, but in recent years it has been nothing short of a disaster. LaMarcus Aldridge barely paid them any attention and Kevin Durant didn’t even grant them a meeting during his free agency.

BASKET-US-BRYANT

That doesn’t even mention Dwight Howard leaving for nothing after one year with the club. So, the biggest priority for the LakeShow should be maintaining that pick by any means necessary and developing their young stars.

Brandon Ingram is still growing into his body and his game in the Staples Center and with a little luck, one of the high picks in this year’s draft will join him. Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle and D’Angelo Russell will all need to keep moving forward.

If they can keep their eyes on the future for a single season, then maybe Showtime can return to the hardwood in Los Angeles. Otherwise, it will be a long way back for the NBA’s golden franchise and it is better for the entire league when the Lakers are rolling.

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