Appearing on SiriusXM NBA Radio (subscription required) on Wednesday, Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak offered a mixed take on a terrible season, saying, "Unfortunately, we're going to have a good draft pick this year."
Kupchak discussed a wide range of topics with hosts Jared Greenberg and Rick Fox, including the upcoming draft and the rash of injuries that have affected the team.
The projected draft pool could include Kansas players Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins, Dante Exum (Australia), Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State), Jabari Parker (Duke), Julius Randle (Kentucky), Aaron Gordon (Arizona), Tyler Ennis (Syracuse) and Noah Vonleh (Indiana) -- to name a few.
Australian sensation Exum recently spoke of the possible opportunity of playing alongside a Lakers superstar. Per Jon Tuxworth of The Canberra Times:
A reason why I signed with the agent I'm with is he has Kobe Bryant, and he's been through this when he came into the NBA. I guess having him as a mentor who can guide me through what he did and how he became successful is something which is pretty good.
During the radio segment, Kupchak searched for the silver lining for a season during which Lakers’ victories have been few and far between. He said, "It is hard to find the positives. But the big picture is bright and this organization always figures out a way to get players and win games."
Getting players is one thing. Winning games can be another story, as the Lakers have discovered this season. Kobe Bryant has played just six games so far, with other key players rotating in and out with injuries. Often, "out" seems the predominate description.
Guards Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar were reactivated during the team’s current three-game road trip. Starting center Pau Gasol, however, is out for an estimated two weeks with a groin strain. Shooting guard Jodie Meeks and big man Jordan Hill are also out of action, with a sprained right ankle and cervical strain, respectively.
It appears increasingly unlikely that the Lakers will have any shot at sneaking into the playoffs. Still, if there’s ever a time to have a losing season, this is it—the 2014 NBA draft is one of the deepest in years.
The league’s annual draft lottery will be held on May 20. The last time the Lakers dropped into the lottery was 2005. That was the year they drafted Andrew Bynum as the 10th overall pick. This time around, they could draft even higher.
Kupchak may be saying "unfortunately" in public, but there's got to be some part of him that's secretly smiling.