USA Today Sports

Lakers are making Danny Ainge seem like a genius

Rob Bradford
January 06, 2018 - 11:51 am

Danny Ainge is on the kind of roll general managers can only usually dream about.

The Celtics chief decision-maker already looked like a really smart guy after executing something that is one of pro sport's toughest tasks -- a legitimate NBA rebuild. Now he is zeroing in on punctuating the process.

In case you forgot, Ainge traded the No. 1 overall pick in last year's draft to Philadelphia for the No. 3 selection and another first-round pick. The additional pick would be one of two held by the 76ers, one acquired from the Lakers, the other via Sacramento. The Celtics would get the Los Angeles pick if it fell between No. 2 and 5 this season. If it didn't then the C's would take the Kings first-rounder in 2019.

Here is seemingly the best scenario for the Celtics: Lakers finish with the second-worst record in the NBA. Guess where they stand after losing their ninth straight, Friday night? That's right. Sitting with the second-worst record in the NBA.

All of a sudden, "#Lakerspick" is a Twitter must-follow.

There are still 44 regular season games to go for the Lakers, but at least the conversation for one of those aforementioned four spots is legitimate. They are dangerously close to the worst record, sitting just a game better than Atlanta, while Orlando, Memphis and Sacramento are all within two losses of being as bad as Los Angeles.

The next two Lakers games should be of some interest to the Celtics, with Luke Walton's club taking on Atlanta and then Sacramento. Los Angeles also hosts the Celtics Jan. 23.

If you're looking for how the home-stretch might shake out, of the Lakers' seven games in April, three will come against current playoff contenders Houston, San Antonio and Minnesota, with games against two teams (Utah, Clippers) who are most likely going to be on the cusp of qualifying for the postseason. There is also one game against Sacramento.

What might it mean for the Celtics if the draft lottery lands the Lakers between No. 2 and 5? According to NBA Draft.net, eight of the top nine prospects are college freshmen, with the only exception being Slovenian forward Luca Doncic. For a look at the site's mock draft, click here.

Oh, and remember when it was thought that the Brooklyn No. 1 pick -- which the Celtics dealt to Cleveland in the Kyrie Irving trade -- was more the most valuable of Boston's prized draft pieces? The Nets currently possess the ninth-worst record.

(To continue tracking where the Lakers stand, bookmark this page.)

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