Los Angeles Lakers’ Season Now All About Finding Future Keepers

There is no longer any pretense about the Los Angeles Lakers shooting for the playoffs this season—it’s all about developing players who can be keepers for the ongoing rebuild.

The current starting lineup for the Purple and Gold doesn’t resemble anything a sane fan would have predicted back in the team’s recent championship era. But it is still a group of players that hold varying levels of potential for the future.

The eldest member of this merry band of misfits is shooting guard Wayne Ellington—a 27-year-old journeyman who is now with his fifth NBA team in six seasons. The NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player for North Carolina in 2009, Ellington is shooting 38 percent from beyond the arc and 44 percent overall.

During a loss to the Denver Nuggets Tuesday, Ellington hit his first five shots in a row, and wound up with 18 points for the night.

Filling out the starting five are Jordan Clarkson, 22, Ryan Kelly, 23, Tarik Black, 23, and Robert Sacre, 25.

Only one member of the lineup was drafted in the first round—Ellington, who was selected No. 28 by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2009.

Sacre was the Lakers’ dead last pick in 2012, Kelly was nabbed at No. 48 in 2013, rookie Clarkson was selected No. 46 in 2014 after the pick was purchased from the Washington Wizards and fellow rookie Black wasn’t drafted at all, having wound up with the Lakers after the Houston Rockets waived him.

Yet here they are, mixing it up against the best the league can throw at them—usually losing, yet putting up a fight in doing so.

The Lakers also have a young lottery pick on the roster, but he’s not playing—Julius Randle broke his leg in his NBA debut, breaking the hearts of Lakers fans everywhere, and he was subsequently ruled out for the season. The Kentucky product also subsequently had r...

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