The Los Angeles Lakers have built an excellent roster heading into the 2023-24 season that many fans believe is good enough to win the NBA Championship. After making it to the Western Conference Finals last season, the Lake Show has undoubtedly gotten better.
Many view this as a “Last Dance” type of season for the purple and gold. LeBron James is only getting older and he has a player option after this season. LeBron himself has all but confirmed that he will leave the Lakers if his son, Bronny James, is drafted by another team.
With the New Orleans Pelicans having the ability to take either the Lakers’ 2024 or 2025 first-round pick, the team has no control over whether or not it can promise LeBron that Bronny will stay in LA. Because of this, it seemed inevitable that this would be LeBron’s last season in the purple and gold.
However, that may not be the case considering the latest intel about the 2024 NBA Draft. While we are still a year away, the 2024 NBA Draft does not appear like it is going to be a very good one, with The Ringer’s Ryen Russillo breaking down just how bleak the draft looks in a recent episode of The Bill Simmons Podcast.
"“People have been down on it (2024 draft class) for two years. I think this happens a lot, I’ve said this before, you’re a year removed from the draft, everyone starts saying these guys suck and when you focus on only watching them, you get a little closer and you start talking yourself into players. But this, ’24, feels like in its own tier of — people are already mapping out, hoping maybe if they were going to change the age restriction, entry-level thing […] when you look at all these teams that had picks, people weren’t going like ‘hey let me just flip this first into a next-year first’ because people already knew how much they didn’t want (it).”"
Translation: the 2024 NBA Draft looks like one of the worst in recent memory and Russillo is not alone in this sentiment.
Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo of ESPN wrote “This class is considered to be one of the weakest of graduating high school seniors we’ve seen in years, with no clear top prospects,” in their 2024 mock draft.
Weak 2024 NBA draft class could keep LeBron James on the Lakers
So how does this help the Lakers? While this does allow Bronny to climb higher on the big boards than he would have been able to with a stronger draft class, it increases the odds that the Lakers will actually have a pick to use in the 2024 NBA Draft.
New Orleans has the ability to take the Lakers’ pick in 2024 or simply let it roll over to 2025. If the Lakers are good next season (which all signs are pointing to them being good), are the Pelicans really going to take a pick in the low-to-mid 20s in a draft class that is notoriously thin?
Or, are they going to roll the dice into 2025 and hope that the Lakers regress, which is certainly possible with LeBron’s age and Anthony Davis’ injury history? The answer is very clear, the Pelicans should let the pick roll over to 2025.
And as long as the Lakers have something in the 2024 NBA Draft they have a chance of drafting Bronny to keep LeBron in town. Klutch Sports can leverage the middle-to-late first round to keep teams from trying to draft Bronny and the Lakers could even move up using the pick and future assets to take Bronny.
That would keep LeBron in LA for at least one more year, which would lead the Lakers into a loaded 2025 free-agent class where they would have cap space to potentially bring in LeBron’s superstar replacement.