The Los Angeles Lakers are hard at work preparing for June 22nd’s NBA Draft. With both the second and 28th overall pick, Los Angeles will have an opportunity to add at least two young prospects to their roster. After missing the playoffs for four straight seasons, most are pinning their hopes on the second pick becoming a star, with Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson, and De’Aaron Fox being the most likely prospects to wind up being selected.
Of the three, Ball appears to be the favorite. The UCLA product has campaigned heavily to wind up in purple and gold, and most draft experts see him as the second-best player in the draft behind Washington’s Markelle Fultz. To some outsiders, the selection of Ball would appear to be a no-brainer, but according to Shams Charania of The Vertical, Los Angeles has declined to guarantee Ball that he will be their pick:
Sources: Lakers front office and Lonzo Ball's agent, Harrison Gaines, remain in discussions, but no guarantees made yet for No. 2 pick.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 19, 2017
Of course, this time of year is filled with smokescreens as teams jockey for leverage leading into the draft. If an opposing team gets wind of a team’s draft preferences they could use that knowledge against them, such as when the Philadelphia 76ers used the Orlando Magic’s love of Elfrid Payton to force Orlando to trade a first-round pick to get him.
The Lakers could very well want to draft Ball, but they are hoping to keep opposing teams guessing all the way up until the draft in order to bring out any trade opportunities that could appear. It’s also possible that they really aren’t sold on Ball, but we won’t know for sure until their pick is in during the NBA Draft this coming Thursday.