The 2020 NBA Draft is today and the Los Angeles Lakers currently do not have a selection.
From 2014 to 2018 the NBA Draft was a big narrative for the Los Angeles Lakers. Heck, even last season, with LeBron James on the roster, the Lakers had the fourth overall pick in the draft and were able to include it in the Anthony Davis trade.
For the first time since 2013, the Lakers do not have an original first-round position in the NBA lottery. They are fresh off of winning the NBA Championship and the narrative is how they can repeat, not how they can get out of the basement.
That, mixed with the fact that this draft is unprecedented and is taking place in November, makes this unlike any recent draft for the Lakers. Laker fans are, rightfully and understandably, not as invested in this draft as previous years.
Without any big narratives to watch, I decided to just get fun with it. Here are three fun facts about the Los Angeles Lakers and the 2020 NBA Draft (and recent drafts as well).
1. The last draft that the Los Angeles Lakers did not make a selection was 2002
The Los Angeles Lakers have at least made one selection in every single NBA Draft since 2003. As of right now, the Lakers have no picks in the draft, although there is always the possibility of the team trading back into the second round if there is someone that they like.
There have been some close calls as well. The Lakers traded two picks away in the 2009 NBA Draft and selected Chinemelu Elonu with the 59th overall pick. Elonu never played in the NBA, however, the team still made a selection.
The Lakers only had one draft pick heading into draft day in 2002 and traded it to Toronto. The Lakers “technically” selected Chris Jeffries with the 27th overall pick but the trade was agreed to beforehand and Jeffries was a Raptor, similar to how the Lakers will “technically” make the selection at 28 for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
2. The last nine 28th overall picks have not been great
The Los Angeles Lakers had the third-best regular-season record in the league last season and thus were slated to pick 28th, which has not been a good selection in recent years… at all.
The last nine players to be selected with the 28th overall pick are Jordan Poole, Jacob Evans, Tony Bradley, Skal Labissiere, R.J. Hunter, C.J. Wilcox, Livio Jean-Charles, Perry Jones and Norris Cole.
Those nine players have a combined 11.2 career win shares. Anthony Davis recorded 11.1 win shares just last season.
Poole, Evans, Bradley and Labissiere are still in the league. Jean-Charles never even played an NBA game. Perhaps this is why the Lakers were okay with trading away the 28th overall pick.
However, knowing the team’s recent track record, we probably could have expected them to break this trend.
3. The Los Angeles Lakers have drafted five of the 16-best late draft picks over the last five years
The Los Angeles Lakers have been really good in selecting and developing players late in the draft. Even those that they do not draft, such as Alex Caruso, are developed into legitimate role players at the NBA level.
We sorted every player to be selected with the 25th overall pick or later in the last five NBA Drafts by career win shares. The Lakers drafted five of the top-16 players.
Larry Nance was selected with the 27th overall pick and ranks third, Ivica Zubac was selected 32nd pick and ranks eighth, Thomas Bryant was selected 42nd and ranks 13th, Kyle Kuzma was selected with the 27th and ranks 14th and Josh Hart was selected with the 30th and ranks 16th.
Zubac and Bryant are especially impressive, albeit it hurts that neither are on the Los Angeles Lakers. Of the players to play at least 100 games, Zubac and Bryant rank third and fourth, respectively, in win shares per 48 minutes.
The Los Angeles Lakers have an eye for talent. So if they do trade back into the second round then they will probably end up getting someone impactful.