Both Anthony Davis and LeBron James returned to action for the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night against the New Orleans Pelicans and it did not change a thing. The Lakers dropped their fifth game in a row, and third of the season to New Orleans, significantly increasing their chances of missing the playoffs in the process.
The Lakers are now a full game behind the San Antonio Spurs for the 10th seed in the play-in. The Spurs have the tiebreaker over the Lakers, essentially making that one-game cushion a two-game cushion. Add in the fact that the Lakers have a much tougher remaining schedule and it is pretty clear that the team is missing the playoffs.
And this, ladies and gentlemen is why teams should protect draft picks when trading them. When the Lakers traded a slew of draft capital to the New Orleans Pelicans for Anthony Davis they never expected the 2022 first-round pick to be a lottery pick. If it was protected, the Lakers could have brought in a potential top-five pick to bolster the roster.
What is the percentage chance of the Los Angeles Lakers giving the New Orleans Pelicans the first overall pick?
First of all, the Pelicans actually traded the pick to the Memphis Grizzlies in the Jonas Valacunias trade last summer. However, New Orleans did the smart thing of protecting the pick, protecting it in the top 10. The Lakers currently have the eighth-worst record in the league and have a 99.6% chance of having a top pick, according to Tankathon. New Orleans is going to most likely keep the pick.
As it stands right now, the Pelicans have a 6% chance of getting the first overall pick from the Los Angeles Lakers. There is a 6.3% chance of it being the second overall pick, a 6.7% chance of it being the third overall pick and a 7.2% chance of it being the fourth-overall pick.
With how the lottery works, if the Pelicans do not get a top-four pick then they won’t get the fifth, sixth or seventh pick. They instead would have a 34.5% chance of getting the eighth overall pick, a 32.1% chance of getting the ninth overall pick and a 6.8% chance of getting the 10th overall pick.
It is more likely that they end up with the eighth or ninth pick, but the Pelicans still have over a 25% chance (26.2% to be exact) of getting a top-four pick in the 2022 NBA Draft from LA.
There are still more games to play and those odds could go up, though. The Lakers have five games left and could probably fall to the seventh-worst record in the league considering they could legitimately go 0-5 in the last five. LA is currently 2.5 games ahead of the Kings (who have won two straight) and four games ahead of the Blazers (who have lost six in a row). The Lakers won’t catch the Blazers.
If the purple and gold fall to being the seventh-worst team in the league then there is a 7.5% chance that the Pelicans get the first-overall pick and a 31.9% chance that they get a top-four pick.