What Constitutes Success for the 2014-15 Los Angeles Lakers?

A month into the 2014-15 season, a legitimate and seemingly obvious question has emerged: What constitutes success for the beleaguered Los Angeles Lakers?

With a 3-12 record, making the playoffs may still be a goal, but it is also an overwhelming long shot.

On Nov. 26, Los Angeles lost to the Memphis Grizzlies 99-93. The purple and gold now own sole possession of last place in the Western Conference.

After the game, Kobe Bryant put the issue of close games into perspective, saying per Greg Beacham of The Associated Press: "It's just as frustrating no matter how many times we lost by seven points or less. I mean, it's not like we have levels of frustration. It's either all or nothing. We've had some opportunities against some of the top teams in the West to win, and we just let it get away from us."

If coming close doesn’t feel like a victory, what else could be deemed a measure of success?

Developing young players into future stars is always a worthy aspiration. Unfortunately, this year’s No. 7 draft pick, Julius Randle, is out for the season with a broken leg.

And then there’s the next annual choosing of NBA rookies, which could be a real bonanza. If the Lakers lose enough games, they get to keep the top-five protected pick they pledged to the Phoenix Suns as part of the Steve Nash trade in 2012.

L.A. is also owed both a first and a second-round pick from the Houston Rockets as part of the Jeremy Lin trade package. Those selections also come with protection clauses, however.

The combination of trade stipulations and bouncing lottery balls make predicting the final order a Byzantine mess. But the most basic principle is that the Lakers have to lose big in order to win big on draft night.

Herein lies the ever popular notion of tanking, wherein fans and observers feel it’s imperative their team embraces falling on t...

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