Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Could the Lakers Pass on Lonzo Ball?

With the Ball family circus haven taken center stage when it comes to NBA draft talk over the past few months, everyone seems resigned to the idea that Lonzo Ball will in fact be a Laker next year, because Lavar says he will.  Well, simply put; I’m not so sure.  I’ve put together a list of 5 scenarios under which Lonzo Ball does not become a Laker this summer (or perhaps ever) regardless of his father’s wishes.  Here they are:
                                                                                    1)      Boston doesn’t draft Fultz
      The most likely scenario under which LA doesn’t draft Lonzo Ball in my opinion, is that the Celtics don’t draft Fultz.  Boston doesn’t need a point guard, what they do need is a versatile forward/wing player who can defend, has range, and can contribute elsewhere such as rebounding, etc.  Josh Jackson would give them all of that.  This writer for one, doesn’t see Fultz as any kind of lock as the number one pick.  I think Jackson makes A LOT more sense for them.  This creates scenario one in which Ball falls past the Lakers: because they draft Fultz, who many see as a young Westbrook type player.

      2)      The Lakers trade their pick for an established player
      Los Angeles has never been a team that really believed in building through the draft.  Magic being the one exception, they’ve typically traded for established players, sometimes trading those very picks away in the process.  This summer, many believe Paul George of the Pacers, and Jimmy Butler of the Bulls to be on the trade market, and it may just be too much for new President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and GM Rob Pilenka to resist, they just might have to pull the trigger on one of those trades.  That would eliminate them from the Lonzo Ball sweepstakes, as they’d no longer have a lottery pick.

      3)      The Lakers like Fox better
Most consider Ball and Fultz to be the top two picks in the draft, and the best two players, but I’m not sure I’d call it a consensus.  It’s a well known fact that De’Aaron Fox outplayed Lonzo Ball in the NCAA tournament this past March, and is considered a better defender than Ball overall.  The Lakers may just decide to go with the better defensive, proven clutch performer in Fox over Ball, who some view to have collapsed a bit when the pressure was on in March.  So option three, the Lakers pick someone who isn’t Ball OR Fultz.

      4)      The Lakers draft a forward
The Lakers are another team like Boston, that despite the desire to mock a point guard to them, and despite the obvious talent at the position in this particular draft class, they kind of don’t need a point guard.  Let’s not forget, they spent the second overall pick on DeAngelo Russell two years ago.  Back then, everyone thought they needed a big man and would take Okafor, they threw us all for a loop and took Russell.  This time, maybe they do the opposite, and surprise us all by taking a forward to play alongside Julius Randle in the front court, a scorer like Jayson Tatum, or even Josh Jackson, who I mentioned earlier as a versatile wing with range and good defense.

      5)      The Lakers trade back for depth
Finally, the least likely option I see for a scenario under which Lonzo Ball does not become a Laker: they trade back in the draft for depth.  Again, I don’t see this as a likely option.  However, a team that lost as many games as the Lakers do, and is losing their first round pick to Philly next year, could always use two top ten draft picks in a deep draft couldn’t they?  Many might consider that the smart move in fact.  The Kings have the 5th and 10th picks, and perhaps they could be persuaded to deal for the 2nd overall pick.  I think their owner could be one who buys into the Ball family circus hook, line, and sinker, he just strikes me as the type.  And Magic and Vlade obviously have some history/know each other.  I’m sure they could work together.  In such a scenario, the Lakers could then pick up two lottery picks in what many consider to be the best draft in years.  That’d be a pretty good way to start off the Magic Johnson era.  And almost everyone knows when it comes to drafting, taking multiple bites at the apple is the tried and true method.  Not usually taking the first overall pick.  Basketball can be different, but in a draft class like this…the depth is pretty tempting.

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