The 2021-22 NBA season certainly didn’t go how the Los Angeles Lakers or their fans thought it would.
Despite acquiring nine-time All-Star and 2017 NBA MVP Russell Westbrook to form a supposed super trio alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers struggled to a 33-49 record and missed the postseason. But not only did the 2020 champs miss the playoffs for the first time since LeBron’s first year in Hollywood, they didn’t even qualify for the play-in tournament.
Injuries could certainly be blamed to a point as head coach Frank Vogel, who was fired the day LA’s season ended, was forced to use 41 different starting lineups in 82 games. Davis appeared in just 40 games, and LeBron played only 56, the third-lowest total of his 19-year career.
Say what you will about Westbrook, but at least he showed up for work, appearing in a team-high 78 games. Kendrick Nunn missed the entire year, and critical role players Talen Horton-Tucker and Trevor Ariza each underwent surgery early in the season and played a combined 84 games.
However, injuries weren’t the only issue. Simply put, the 2021-22 Lakers were old, one of the oldest squads in NBA history. But that’s what the NBA Draft is for, right? Get some young players to come off the bench when your aging stars need a break and set yourselves up for the future.
But there’s just one problem. The Lakers don’t have a pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.
Why the Los Angeles Lakers don’t have a pick in the 2022 NBA Draft
Given their poor record, the Lakers would have held the eighth overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. But that selection, of course, belongs to the New Orleans Pelicans via the 2019 trade between the two teams involving Anthony Davis.
And to make cap room for AD that same summer, the Lakers sent their second-round pick in this year’s draft, which would have been the No. 38 selection, to the Washington Wizards. The pick has changed hands multiple times since then and now belongs to the San Antonio Spurs.
So that’s why LA doesn’t have a pick. However, that doesn’t mean they won’t be a factor in the ’22 draft. Rob Pelinka could buy a second-round selection as the team has $4.7 million available for this type of transaction.
The Lakers have done this twice in the last decade, acquiring the No. 46 pick each time. In 2014, they paid Washington $1.8 million for Jordan Clarkson. And in 2019, they paid the Orlando Magic $2.2 million for Horton-Tucker. They could also get themselves into the draft with a trade.
So we’ll just have to wait and see what LA does. If they choose not to do anything, they’ll undoubtedly be players in the undrafted free-agent market. Stay tuned, folks. If nothing else, the Lakers are always entertaining.
UPDATE: The Lakers did indeed get into the 2022 NBA Draft as they acquired the 35th overall pick from the Orlando Magic in exchange for cash and a second-round selection in 2028.
Draft order courtesy of NBA.com