If you haven’t heard of Lonzo Ball, as well as his fathers tactics to get him drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers, then the chances you are a true NBA fan are slim to none. From absurd appearances on national television, to unintentionally disrespecting the Hall of Fame greats along the way, many are arguing that the Lakers should stay away from drafting Ball with the #2 overall pick in the NBA Draft.
On the other hand, realists (such as myself) believe that the Lakers can’t afford to pass up on the potential that Ball possesses, despite what controversies trail him, and here is why:
The Hometown Hero Story
Having grown up in Chino Hills, California, Ball only lives just over an hour away from the Staples Center, the home of the Los Angeles Lakers. A fan of the franchise, it’s important to note that plenty of athletes in today’s era hope to represent the teams they grew up rooting for.
Since being born in October of 1997, Ball has witnessed the Lakers secure themselves five championship runs, as well as fifteen total postseason appearances. On the other hand, Ball has also witnessed the downfall of the Lakers legacy, as the franchise has failed to reach the postseason in what is now four straight seasons. From the heroics of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, to the struggles Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle, the Lakers have fallen off a metaphorical cliff of success.
Ball knows what the history of the Lakers entails, and according to his family, he has what it takes to turn the franchise around. In fact, Lonzo’s father, Lavar, went on record to say that Ball could even turn the entire franchise around immediately.
Although he has only played for one season during his time at UCLA, Lonzo practically carried the school throughout the season. With an average of 14.6 points per game, it’s important to note that Ball did happen to make the players around him better. With an average of 7.6 assists and 6.0 rebounds per game on top of that, players generally benefited from playing with Ball.
Would he be utilized within the starting lineup to start the season? With a current guard combination of D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson, it’s more likely that Ball would join sophomore Brandon Ingram and play off the bench in order to develop a bit more.
Another situation involving the Lakers starting lineup happens to include whether Russell will even be in a Lakers uniform to begin the season. Recent reports have speculated that Los Angeles is interested in sending a package of players and/or picks away, including Russell, and it could ultimately open up a spot for Ball to start the 2017-18 season.
Keep Building Around the Young Core
The Lakers are one of a few teams that are currently within a rebuilding process, and there is no better way to rebuild than through the draft. The franchise has yet to strike gold when it comes to a superstar, but their roster is one of the youngest in the league. In fact, nine of the fifteen players on the Lakers active roster are between the ages of 19-25, including three of the main starters from the most recent season.
To keep the environment in LA even younger, the franchise went and hired head coach and ex-Lakers forward Luke Walton in 2016, who is a mere 37-years old. As the youngest head coach in the NBA, Walton reportedly has a strong relationship with the players, as this seems like the right home for Ball to develop.
Ball is a leader through action, rather than words. With the Lakers, Ball would join the likes of Nick “Swaggy P” Young and D’Angelo Russell, who evidently have no problem saying what’s on their minds.
Could the Celtics snag Ball? Of course, but with most pushing for the C’s to take Washington star Markelle Fultz instead, the opportunity should be wide open for the Lakers to select the most controversial NCAA player in recent years. Critics are encouraging the Lakers to pass on Ball, and select Kansas forward Josh Jackson instead. With that, while Ball does have a lot of baggage associated with his name, he has more upside than anyone in this draft.
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