The Los Angeles Lakers are in quite a unique situation, a situation that with their NBA Draft Lottery odds looming, many fans are actually rooting for their team to lose games, in hopes their probability to keep their top-three protected draft pick increases. But, imagine being on the side of the players, hearing the noise that fans are actually rooting for their own team to lose.
Most of the ‘noise’ is outside of the arena, flooding social media and highlighted over the L.A. radio waves. But, if you listen closely, it even infiltrates through the stands of their own home of the purple and gold.
“That’s right Larry! Thinking about our future!,” one fan shouted after Nance Jr. missed a free throw towards the end of a close game Friday night.
“Tank for (Lonzo) Ball!’ shouted another as a group from UCLA walked by.
The Lakers picked up their 24th win of the season against the Sacramento Kings on Friday night, and with the third-worst record in the NBA currently have a 46.9 percent chance of keeping their top-three protected draft pick. Fans that were cheering for the Lakers to lose were hoping the Lakers would have a more realistic opportunity to move into the second spot in the lottery, currently held by the Phoenix Suns (23-57), which holds a 55.8 percent chance of landing a top-three pick.
But, the reality is, that whether the Lakers finish with the second or third worst record in the NBA, their probability to lose their top three draft pick is still either 53.1 percent or 44.2 percent.
And, the rest is left up to the basketball gods.
“To me it’s ridiculous, I think it’s crazy,” Nance Jr. told LakersNation.com after their third straight win. “Our job is to go out there and play basketball as hard as we can every single night. Our job is to compete; I’m not worried about anything going on behind the scenes or anything two games from now. My job is to win tonight, and that’s all I’m focused on.
Is it frustrating?
“We’re going for wins right now, and I don’t necessarily care about any of that stuff, and I don’t think we should,” Nance Jr. said.
Julius Randle scoffed at the idea before the question was even asked.
“Tanking? We don’t believe in that, us as players we go out there and compete, we do this for a living,” Julius Randle said. “Me personally, and I know my guys, we don’t believe in going out there and trying to lose games. The basketball gods, I believe in that, it’ll come back and haunt you so you don’t do that, you gotta treat the game with respect.”
“I don’t care,” Randle responded when asked if it’s frustrating to hear fans say that. “We know what’s going on in this locker room, so we don’t really care.”
“I don’t think it’s frustrating to me at all,” said rookie Brandon Ingram. “As a player we come here every single day to win basketball games, to play our role on the basketball team, we can’t listen to anyone else, we come in, and we compete as a unit, we listen to the coaches.”
And, as for head coach Luke Walton?
“Obviously, it’s a unique situation we’re in…Like I said after last game, it’s our players’ responsibility to play like that every night and try to win no matter what else is going on, as professionals.”