Throughout the last several decades, the Los Angeles Lakers have had success due to their ability to attract superstar players. Team legends like Wilt Chamberlain, Shaquille O’Neal, Jamaal Wilkes and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did not start with the team but now have their jersey numbers hanging in Crypto.com Arena due to their contributions. After Kobe Bryant started to decline, the team tried a different approach.
The Lakers attempted to build through the draft and did find some good players along the way. However, there were some moves that were a mistake in hindsight. In 2017, the team had the No. 2 overall pick in the NBA Draft. Instead of selecting Jayson Tatum out of Duke, the team took UCLA star Lonzo Ball. The move wasn’t a surprise as Ball’s ties to Los Angeles made it a perfect fit. Tatum was taken by the Boston Celtics with the next pick.
Five years later, it’s clear that Tatum is the better player as he leads the Celtics to an NBA Finals appearance while Ball was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans as part of the Anthony Davis trade and is now with the Chicago Bulls. If Tatum would’ve had it his way, he’d be a Laker right now. He hasn’t been shy about his love for Kobe in the past and recently revealed that he was hoping Los Angeles was going to select him with that No. 2 overall pick.
“The Lakers were my favorite team, and Kobe was my favorite player,” Tatum told ESPN. “So it was crazy that the Lakers had the second pick and I was so close to a dream come true. But it was just like they didn’t want anything to do with me at the time.”
ALL the latest Los Angeles Lakers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Lakers newsletter here!
Tatum Could Win 1st Championship
The worst place for a Lakers fan to end up would be Boston. Clearly, Tatum hasn’t let his Lakers fandom get in the way of his success with the Celtics. The three-time All-Star’s reputation could get a big boost this season as Boston battles the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.
Being the best player on a championship team is how superstars are born. For a long time, Tatum has been considered a star but hasn’t reached the level of players like LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo. A championship win would certainly boost his profile around the league.
Could Lakers Be in Tatum’s Future?
As noted earlier, Tatum has never been shy about the fact that he was a Lakers fan even though he’s a Celtic. There’s no reason to believe he’s unhappy with the team right now but losing in the NBA Finals could change how he feels. If he wanted to, Tatum could become a free agent in 2025.
By then, LeBron will likely be retired and the Lakers will be far removed from the Russell Westbrook contract. If these next few years in Boston end without him winning a title, it’s possible that the idea of teaming up with Davis in Los Angeles could be appealing. He’ll only be 27 in 2025, which means the Lakers would be all over the idea of making him the next face of the franchise. Considering he’s such a big fan, it can’t be ruled out that his future could be in purple and gold.