Two players appear to be the favorites to go 1-2 in the 2017 NBA Draft: dynamic Washington guard Markelle Fultz and smooth UCLA guard Lonzo Ball. The teams at the top of the draft would love to get either, but according to Ball’s father, there’s a chance that the Bruins’ guard with otherworldly court vision and a funky jumper only wants to play in Los Angeles. Lavar Ball told reporters on Saturday that his son will only suit up in the purple and gold.
In addition to playing for UCLA, Ball is a native of Southern California, so no one would be surprised if he wants to play for his local team. His father’s statements go beyond that, though, as this says that his son won’t play for anyone else.
However, Lavar somewhat walked back his comment later in the day, telling ESPN that “My boy is going to play for the Lakers, and I’m going to speak it into existence. I want him to be a Laker, but I wasn’t saying he’s only going to play for the Lakers.” Lonzo, meanwhile, did some damage control.
Lavar’s desire to see his son play for the Lakers makes sense from a personal standpoint and a hoops perspective: Lonzo and D’Angelo Russell would make one of more intriguing young backcourts in the NBA.
There could be some issues that pop up with this plan, though. Los Angeles essentially needs to get a top-2 pick if it wants to secure Ball, and currently, the Lakers have the third-worst record in the league. If this holds, the team will have to hope that it’s able to leapfrog Boston (which has Brooklyn’s pick, which is currently projected to be the No. 1 selection in the draft) or Phoenix.
Even if this doesn’t happen, there is still a chance that the Lakers could get Ball at No. 3 if someone like Josh Jackson, Jonathan Issac, Dennis Smith, or De’Aaron Fox see their stock rise. However, if Los Angeles falls out of the top-3, there’s almost no chance that Ball ends up in Laker Land, because Philadelphia would then receive their pick. Assuming his dad’s comments are true, Los Angeles would need to part with some other assets in this scenario to acquire Ball, and the asking price would likely cost Magic Johnson a fortune.
Basically, if Lavar Ball’s original statement is true, Los Angeles better hope it gets a top-2 pick. If that doesn’t happen, we could be in for some silliness on draft night. Or the team can play the long game and wait for Ball’s younger brother, high-scoring guard LaMelo, to become draft eligible in 2020.