As counterintuitive as it sounds, it’s in the best interest for the Los Angeles Lakers to lose basketball games.
The Lakers owe their 2016 first-round draft pick to the Philadelphia 76ers if their selection falls outside of the top three, so L.A. has every incentive to lose games and preserve their standing as the second-worst team in the NBA — giving them the second-best odds to land the first overall pick, and better than 50 percent odds to secure a top-3 pick (and thus keep theirs).
Early in the first quarter of their 101-88 loss to the Washington Wizards, D’Angelo Russell leaked out in transition and awkwardly collided with Jordan Clarkson, who was pushing the ball. Russell kept running in front of Clarkson — preventing him from attacking the rim — and, for a few seconds, it seemed as if he was almost doing it on purpose:
Of course, Russell is as competitive and hungry as a young player can be, and it’d be unfair to suggest he was tanking or trying to prevent Clarkson — a good friend of his — from scoring.
This was just a coincidence, which led to poor — and hilarious — timing.
For what it’s worth, Russell made up for his gaffe by grabbing an offensive rebound and drilling a 3-pointer later in that possession. But Lakers fans who are clamoring for the team to prioritize the future over short-term success were certainly satisfied with their stellar rookie’s miscue, if only for a moment.
Jovan Buha covers the NBA for FOX Sports. Follow him on Twitter: @jovanbuha.