The Los Angeles Lakers confirmed their pre-draft workout with LiAngelo Ball, officially announcing he’ll be among the six 2018 NBA Draft prospects brought in to the UCLA Health Training Center on Tuesday.
Ball wasn’t among the 69 players who were invited to the NBA Draft Combine, but he did recently participate in a separate organization workout. He’s not nearly as touted as older brother Lonzo Ball, who was taken by the Lakers with the second overall pick in the 2017 Draft.
Beyond playing a different style of basketball, it can be reasoned LiAngelo didn’t do himself any favors by spending a season in Lithuania instead of playing at UCLA as a freshman. Of course, that decision was a complex situation and one driven by outspoken father, LaVar Ball.
Nonetheless, LiAngelo continues to work and prepare as though he will be selected in this year’s draft. Part of that has entailed patterning himself after Lonzo, per Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:
“I’ve been training since I was little, and I’ve seen how Zo has got it done preparing himself,” Ball told Yahoo Sports. “So I felt if we did the same things, I should get there the same way. I’ve always wanted to play professionally, and I take it seriously. I don’t base how I play based off people hating or doubting. I try to show what I can do. Going in, I know I can produce. I train for this sport, so I knew I wanted to produce and be one of the highest scorers on the team this year, and that’s what happened.
“I know how much I have to work to get to where I want to be. I just let people talk. People don’t really have an effect on me, because anybody can say anything. It doesn’t affect my preparation. I just want to stay focused and grinding.”
LiAngelo averaged 12.6 points and 2.9 rebounds per game, and shot 41.5 percent from 3-point territory with Vytautas Prienu. He and younger brother LaMelo Ball didn’t finish out a full season in Lithuania, however, due to their father being at odds with the head coach.
At best, LiAngelo projects as a second-round draft pick. He’s much more likely to go undrafted and potentially sign with a team to play in the Las Vegas Summer League. Of course, LaVar has long predicted each of his sons would wind up playing for the Lakers.
He recently went so far as to say that not only would Lonzo be willing to sign a new contract at a discounted rate, but that his two other sons would as well if it meant acquiring other talent to surround them with.
LaVar’s claims didn’t come without criticism, as he blamed Lakers trainer Gunnar Peterson for Lonzo suffering multiple injuries in his rookie season.
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