The New Orleans Pelicans were the big winners of the NBA draft lottery—having landed the No. 1 pick and all—but the Los Angeles Lakers have to feel pretty good about how things turned out for them. Despite finishing 10th in the Western Conference, Los Angeles landed the fourth overall pick in the draft.
This means that Los Angeles has the opportunity to draft a player with plenty of NBA potential. More importantly, though, the fourth-overall pick provides a big bargaining chip that Los Angeles could potentially use in a trade.
"I will tell you there are some incredibly talented, impact players there that we're going to study deeply," Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said, per Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times. "And then, of course, we'll canvass the league and see what value that pick has. But either of those options is an extraordinary win for the franchise."
With Los Angeles looking to maximize its window with LeBron James, it's likely Pelinka and Co. seek to acquire a veteran rather than actually using the fourth-overall pick. The most obvious target is New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, a player the Lakers tried to acquire before the deadline.
The problem with a potential Davis deal is twofold. For one, New Orleans simply does not seem interested in trading Davis within the conference—or at least not to Los Angeles.
"From what I understand, the Pelicans are not interested in making a deal with the Los Angeles Lakers," ESPN's Brian Windhorst said on The Jump.
The second problem is that the Lakers may not be able to offer the best deal. While they do have some intriguing young pieces and that fourth pick, the New York Knicks have the third overall pick and several other draft selections to play with.
While L.A. may offer the best overall package, it may have to massively overpay in order to do so. At some point, that stops making sense. If a deal for Davis doesn't make sense, then Los Angeles can simply keep its focus on taking the best player at No. 4.
"Top-five picks in the draft, if you go back in the history and study them, those picks can alter and impact franchises," Pelinka said, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com. "This is a big moment for us."
Adding a player like Vanderbilt's Darius Garland or Virginia's De'Andre Hunter No. 4, along with a seasoned veteran free agent or two, may be enough to make the Lakers serious contender—even if a trade for Davis never gets done.
"They would've been in the top-four conversation [in the Western Conference] this year without the injuries," a league scout said, per Brad Botkin of CBSSports.com. "Anyone who doesn't believe that wasn't paying attention."
The Lakers might be able to add a high draft pick to their roster, too, if they're willing to move on from oft-injured Lonzo Ball. Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reported before the lottery that the Chicago Bulls would consider sending their draft pick to L.A. in exchange for Ball if it fell in the "No. 3 to No. 6 range."
Chicago landed at No. 7.