With the way the Los Angeles Lakers are playing now, it is not uncommon for people to think they are tanking to get a better chance at a higher pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. Paul Pierce even called out the Lakers for trying to pair LeBron James with the presumed No. 1 pick in the next year's draft Victor Wembanyama.
What happened to the Lakers' pick?
In the 2019 offseason, the Lakers won the Anthony Davis sweepstake, but the organization had to empty its cupboard of future draft picks to acquire the prized big man.
Because the Stepien Rule prevents any team from trading away its first-round pick in consecutive years, L.A. gave the Pelicans the right to swap first-round picks in 2023. So, if the Lakers win the draft lottery for 2023, New Orleans will come rushing for that pick.
At the time of the trade, the deal seemed like a no-brainer for the Lakers' front office. Adding one of the league's best big men to a James-led squad gave the franchise a good shot at winning the title, which it did the following season.
A pipe dream
Unfortunately, the Lakers have been struggling the past two seasons and perhaps need an infusion of young talent to complement their star duo.
Wembanyama has the potential to turn any struggling franchise around, which is why some teams will possibly resort to tanking this season to increase their chances of winning the Wembanyama lottery.
But as Pierce realized, landing the French prospect would be a pipe dream for the Lakers, so they would need to find other ways to bolster their roster.