Lakers enter NBA draft lottery with slim chance of landing No. 1 pick

Duke's Zion Williamson reacts after dunking against North Carolina on March 15. Williamson is expected to be the No. 1 overall pick in this year's NBA draft.
(Nell Redmond / Associated Press)

The Lakers have entered the NBA’s lottery sphere for the sixth consecutive time, the truest ominous sign of how far they have fallen from their once mighty perch among the league’s elite and it is a telling signature for the challenges newly hired coach Frank Vogel faces.

On Tuesday, the Lakers will find out where they will select and what the future holds for them and Vogel when the NBA holds its annual lottery show in Chicago.

Based on their 37-45 record from last season, which was the fourth-best among the teams that missed the playoffs, the Lakers have a 2% chance of landing the top pick in the draft.


So, Lakers fans, it’s not completely out of the realm of possibilities that Los Angeles could land presumptive top overall pick Zion Williamson out of Duke.

It’s just more likely that the 10.3% odds that project the Lakers getting the 11th choice in the draft is where they will probably end up.

The New York Knicks (17-65), Cleveland Cavaliers (19-63) and Phoenix Suns (19-63) have the best shot at landing the No.1 pick based on their poor records. All three of them have a 14% chance getting the stud Williamson — if that’s who they want.

Murray State’s Ja Morant and Duke’s RJ Barrett are considered the sort of top-three talents that could help turn a franchise around as well.

If the Lakers remain in their draft position, NBA scouts could see them taking Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura or North Carolina swingman Nassir Little when the draft takes place on June 20.

Or, if the Lakers happen to move up in the draft, they could use that pick and their other young talent to see if they can re-engage with the New Orleans Pelicans in trade talks for Anthony Davis.

Wherever the Lakers end up in the draft, their odyssey into the land of the lottery began in 2014, when they used their seventh overall pick to take forward Julius Randle.

In 2015, the Lakers took guard D’Angelo Russell (second), forward Brandon Ingram in 2016 (second) and point guard Lonzo Ball (second) in 2017. The Lakers had to ship their 2018 lottery pick at 10 to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Vogel, 45, who was officially announced as coach of the Lakers on Monday, knows what’s at stake during the draft and he knows how important draft positioning is for his new team.

“I am very excited for this opportunity to join the Lakers, a prestigious organization that I have long admired,” Vogel said in a statement released by the Lakers. “I look forward to coaching phenomenal talent and bringing my strategic vision to the team.”

Vogel, who agreed to a three-year deal on Friday, replaced Luke Walton, who mutually agreed with the Lakers to part ways. Vogel became the Lakers’ sixth coach in nine years.

Vogel went 250-181 in six seasons with the Indiana Pacers, and his teams reached the playoffs five times. He went 54-110 in two seasons with the Orlando Magic and was fired in 2018.

“Coach Vogel has a proven track record of success in the NBA playoffs, and he reflects the core qualities, detailed game preparation, extreme hard work and holding players accountable to the highest basketball standards,” Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said.

The Lakers will head to Chicago for the NBA lottery and for the NBA combine in the city that runs Wednesday through Saturday.

The Lakers will have Vogel’s news conference back in El Segundo next Monday.

Twitter: @BA_Turner