With the NBA Draft Lottery come and gone and the revelation that the Lakers will have the second pick in the draft behind Boston, the question now turns to what player these teams will pick in June. You will see a lot of mock drafts between now and then (hell, you’ve probably seen a lot already) and in a draft that may be deeper than we have seen in a decade or more, you probably can’t go wrong in the top five (unless you’re Philly, they’ll probably screw up the third pick).
I’d like to poke the bear a bit, talk about the elephant in the room, and whatever other animal euphemism you can think of regarding everyone’s favorite $500 shoe mogul daddy’s boy: Lonzo Ball and his possible connection to the Lakers.
No one is denying that Ball has talent, though he did disappear at times last season when paired up against stiff competition. Could he use another year of seasoning in college? Maybe, but that’s neither here nor there as he is expected to be a top five draft pick, and is currently projected to go to the Los Angeles Lakers with that number two pick. There are other players that I would personally draft before Ball, but this may not be the worst pick for the Lakers. Of course, LA could trade that pick to the Pacers for Paul George (as long as Indiana is amenable, of course) torpedoing the dreams of LaVar and Lonzo playing under the bright lights of Los Angeles in exchange for the bright lights of…Indianapolis?
Let’s put the trade idea to the side for now. It may happen, but speculation at this point would be silly. I definitely don’t think Boston will take Ball at one, so that leaves the Lakers at two or I believe Ball slides. Anyway, is it a good fit: LA and Lonzo Ball? From a basketball standpoint, I think it could work. If the Lakers move some of their young pieces, maybe trade away Jordan Clarkson who played well enough last year that he doesn’t deserve to play second fiddle to a rookie, Ball could slide right in to the point guard spot. Or, do you move D’Angelo Russell and keep Clarkson, teaming him with Ball in the back court? I don’t believe that having all three on the roster would benefit any of them and may actually hurt their overall development (almost like the Sixers constantly drafting Centers for years in a row).
Obviously, the possibilities are numerous for the Lakers, and it’s something that they can make work from a basketball standpoint. Does it make sense otherwise though? The Ball family would be happy about it, they want to stay in LA, but the question will always swirl around LaVar and his outspoken nature. Can the Lakers and Magic Johnson keep him in check? LaVar has already said he was better than Michael Jordan, why would he listen to and take the advice of Magic? Though, I will say, the elder Ball will be a problem wherever his son lands, so it may just be a matter of who wants to take on that headache. I do worry a bit because the roster of the Lakers (health permitting, obviously) looks like it is a Paul George away from contention, not a Lonzo Ball away. Unless Brandon Ingram and the small forward position takes a big step forward next year (which it absolutely could) I can see that as a big weak spot on a team with decent talent. Will the Lakers be kicking themselves at this time next year because they passed on a trade for George to pick up another guard? Will the Lakers see a fracturing of the locker room as the “white guys” on the roster are called out by LaVar after a tough loss? It’ll make for interesting talk radio, that’s for sure.
Personally, if I ran the Lakers (and coincidentally, Magic, if you need an assistant I am available) I would tell LaVar to shit in his hat and either trade the pick to Indiana for Paul George or draft a guy like Josh Jackson out of North Carolina who is older, can play small forward, is more experienced and comes with less baggage. What would you do with that pick? If you had Magic’s ear, what would your suggestion be? Let us know in the comments.