If it’s any consolation to Lakers fans, Dirk Nowitzki, JJ Barea, Jason Terry and the Mavericks bench absolutely shredded the Oklahoma City Thunder last night in the first game of their Western Conference Finals series. Kobe Bryant and the greatest Laker draft picks of all-time would have had a tough time trying to defend the Mavs in this one.
It’s hard to win multiple titles in the NBA when you’re used to winning multiple titles, something the Lakers have done 16 times in their history. After three-straight years of making it to the NBA Finals, the drain of the long season, with 77 playoff games over that period of time, seemed to wear down the Lakers and they limped out of the playoffs after a second-round beat down by the high-flying Mavericks.
A new chapter has begun for the purple and gold. It’s time to leave the past behind, hire a new head coach, and try filling in the necessary pieces to get the Lakers back to where they and their fans feel most comfortable—the NBA Finals.
How to actually accomplish that feat is up to management and the current crop of players on the roster. Will Mitch Kupchak “blow up” the team as former Lakers great Magic Johnson has advocated? Outside of Kobe Bryant, no one should feel safe—including Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom, Derek Fisher and Ron Artest.
Will any of the four draft picks the Lakers possess in the second round of this year’s draft turn out to be a diamond in the proverbial rough? Or will the team come up with a blockbuster trade that brings a superstar such as Dwight Howard or Chris Paul to Southern California?
The Lakers have built superior clubs over the years through all of these methods. When they’ve had high draft picks, which is not often, the Lakers have taken some of the greatest talent the league has ever seen and developed championship teams around them.
Take a look at the Lakers' top 10 draft picks of all-time and tell me if you think there’s any sort of pattern or method to the team’s madness. When your franchise is able to hang 16 banners that all say world champion on them, you must be doing something right.