How do the Lakers moves impact the Sixers?

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Updated: Wednesday, February 22, 2017 08:59 AM

The Los Angeles Lakers made a pair of moves yesterday which took the NBA by surprise, and have a pretty drastic impact on the Sixers’ future.

We’ll take a look at each of these moves and talk about how, and why, they impact the Sixers going forward.

Lakers trade Lou Williams

The less consequential long-term move, but the one that has the most impact on the Sixers’ immediate future, is the trade of Lou Williams to Houston for Corey Brewer and the Rockets’ 2017 1st round pick.

This is important for the Sixers because they will get the Lakers pick in this year’s draft. Assuming, of course, it falls outside of the top 3.

The Lakers currently have the NBA’s 3rd-worst record at 19-39, a full two games “behind” the Magic at 21-37 but only a half game ahead of Phoenix at 18-39. The Nets (9-47) are in a class by themselves, but the Lakers finishing at 2, 3, or 4 (less likely) are all in play.

The bad news, for Sixers fans, is that the loss of Lou Williams should be a big one for a Lakers team that was already playing dreadful basketball. Williams is averaging a career-high 18.6 points per game in just 24 minutes off the bench, shooting 38.6% from three (also a career-high) on 5.4 attempts per game (second highest of his career), while still getting to the free-throw line 5.9 times per game.

That all creates an incredibly efficient 60.9% true shooting percentage, the best of Williams’ 12-year NBA career and makes him the 8th most efficient 18+ point per game scorer in the NBA this year, with a +5.7 offensive box plus/minus. He’s really having a fantastic offensive season.

Yes, his defense is, has been, and always will be a problem, but when Williams is producing this efficiently and this consistently he’s helping far more than hurting. Brewer will help the Lakers’ defense, but he’s a liability at this point in his career in the half court, and how many minutes they can realistically play him because of that is in question.

And the on/off numbers, at least at first glance, back that up, with the Lakers a somewhat-competitive -1.3 net rating with Williams on the court compared to a dreadful, would-be-worst-in-the-league-by-a-mile -12.5 with him on the bench. The offense, predictably, takes the biggest hit, falling from a 108.0 offensive rating with Williams on the court to 98.9 with him on the bench.

With the Lakers already in a free-fall (they’ve lost 13 of their last 17 games), the loss of Williams, and the potential for even more tanking moves, the Lakers may not have many wins left in their 24 remaining games.

That’s not a *huge* concern. With the 3rd worst record the Sixers currently have a 53.1% chance of getting that pick this year, which includes a 22.6% chance at landing at #4, a 26.5% chance at #5, and just a 4% chance to fall to #6. Should the Lakers end up with the 2nd worst record rather than the 3rd worst, which looks like a distinct possibility, the chance of that pick conveying drops just 8.9%, to 44.2%, with an increased chance of landing at #4 or #5 if it does convey.

Lakers finish with the...Odds of conveyingOdds of #4 pickOdds of #5 pickOdds of #6 pick
2nd worst record44.2%31.9%12.3%0.0%
3rd worst record53.7%22.6%26.5%4.0%
4th worst record62.2%9.9%35.1%16.0%
(If the Lakers finish with the worst record, what are the odds the Sixers will get their pick this year?)

 

It would be great if the Lakers can find some wins and end up with the 3rd or 4th worst record rather than the 2nd worst, but it’s not the end of the world, either. If the Lakers finish with the 2nd worst record the odds are you’ll either get the #4 pick this year or an unprotected pick next year. That’s still a very good spot to be in.

Especially since the Lakers should be bad again next year, when the pick would become unprotected if it still hasn’t conveyed. Which brings us to ….

The Lakers hired Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka to run their basketball operations department

The Lakers hired Magic Johnson (president of basketball operations) and former agent Rob Pelinka (general manager) to head up their basketball operations department.

The fact that the Lakers made the change isn’t surprising at all, nor is it surprising that Magic ended up being destined for more than just an advisory role. What is surprising is that the move happened just 2 days before the trade deadline.

First, there’s the fact that Johnson is, or at least was, an outspoken proponent of Jahlil Okafor. There’s no guarantee this matters at this point, when we have far more data about Okafor’s NBA prospects than we did in June of 2015, but it’s worth noting considering time and circumstance.

Beyond that there’s Magic’s larger history of tweets, which is filled with either incredibly obvious observations or huge scouting misses, and along with his on-air commentary it doesn’t necessarily inspire much confidence, although he’s been successful elsewhere in life and the persona some take in the media isn’t necessarily always their most fleshed-out thoughts.

Even with the benefit of the doubt, this is a job that is tough to learn on the fly and having two guys head up their basketball operations department who have never taken on those roles is a tough ask for even the brightest of basketball minds.

There’s two ways to look at how this might impact the Lakers’ future. There’s the growing consensus within Lakers’ management that the rebuild was taking too long, and that Magic was brought in to try to jump start the process and move it along quickly. These type of decisions can have disastrous long-term consequences but, even if they’re not of the “longest view in the room” variety, there’s the chance the philosophy can marginally (if not materially) change the 2017-18 win total.

I would go the other way. Inexperienced management is always cause for concern, and inexperienced management running a team that the Sixers have a vested interest in is a good thing in my book. The Lakers may have just taken a step towards decreasing the odds their draft pick conveys this year, but I think they have also taken a step towards increasing the value of the pick in the 2018 draft if it is still owed to the Sixers.

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Derek Bodner

Derek Bodner covers the NBA draft for USA Today and DraftExpress.com. He was previously the 76ers Insider for Philadelphia magazine. Contact Information: derek.bodner@draftexpress.com / @DerekBodnerNBA

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  • Anders

    Trading Lou Williams pretty much guarantee the Sixers a top 5 pick next year. There is no way they will improve enough next year to make much of a difference

  • Derek, if you had your choice (if you were the Sixers’ GM), would you rather have the Lakers’ pick convey at #4 this year, or have the unprotected pick next year?

    I’m not so sure next year wouldn’t be better. It could be top 2.

    • I would probably rather have it convey this year at 4. Keep in mind, even unprotected next year the most likely landing spot is still 4, and at least now you have the knowledge that it’s a strong draft.

      • Also, if the Lakers make a push to trade for Paul George (which seems likely), their record might be better next year.

  • bubqr

    DeAngelo or Ingram could take (both?) a big leap, but chances are that next year they’d still be a bottom 5/6 team. I’m OK with the pick not conveying this year.

    I’m happy it’s not a 2019 1st round pick we have from them though, because while the Lakers “attractivity” has been overrated in recent years, both Paul George(who always stated he was a Lakers fan) and even DMC are potential FAs that they could get in summer 2018.