After six straight seasons of missing the Los Angeles Lakers missing the playoffs, the team turned things around at a rapid pace last year and won a championship. During those six years, the team tried to build through the draft. Bradon Ingram, Josh Hart and Lonzo Ball were all considered strong building blocks.
However, LeBron James arrived in 2018 and the Lakers couldn’t wait on a rebuild any longer. LeBron’s first season in Los Angeles was marred with constant trade rumors, mostly involving Anthony Davis. The influx of rumors wasn’t ideal for the Lakers’ young players and it affected the team in a negative way. Now, most of the team’s old core is with the New Orleans Pelicans and Ingram has turned into a star.
Hart was among the players sent to in the Davis trade and he got brutally honest about that first season with LeBron.
“The [trade rumors] were tough on him,” Hart said of Ingram, per ESPN’s Zach Lowe. “Before LeBron got there, he had been given the keys. And then people in L.A. were killing him: He’s not as good anymore. He’s not a great No 2. pick. The rumors became part of our lives, all year. Thank God I don’t have to deal with that s*** anymore.”
The 2018-2019 season wasn’t a good one for the Lakers and missed the playoffs again. In the offseason, the Davis rumors were put to bed as the trade was completed.
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Pelicans & Lakers Are Better Off
Based on how things have played out, it appears both the Lakers and Pelicans are better off since the Davis trade. Los Angeles won a championship last season and Davis signed a long-term deal. Instead of losing the big man in free agency eventually, New Orleans landed Ingram, who averaged over 23 points a game last season and is doing it again this season.
He’s an emerging star and should only get better. Though Hart and Lonzo Ball haven’t developed into stars, they’re solid contributors. Considering the alternative, New Orleans has to be pretty happy with how everything played out. Obviously, keeping Davis for the long-term would’ve been ideal but he made it clear he wasn’t going to stay.
Former Lakers Draft Picks Making Impact Across NBA
Say what you want about the pre-LeBron Lakers but they did an excellent job drafting. Ingram is going to make a lot of All-Star games in his career but he’s not the only player that the team hit on. Julius Randle, the Lakers’ first-round pick in 2014, has been a stud for the New York Knicks. He’s averaging 22.8 points a game this season with 11 rebounds. Randle has always been a solid player but he’s hitting another level.
D’Angelo Russell is another former Laker draft pick who is putting together a good career. As the starting point guard for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Russell is averaging 21.6 points a game. While the Lakers have struggled in a lot of areas over the last decade, they deserve a ton of credit for finding great, young talent in the draft.