After another dismal season without a playoff berth, the Los Angeles Lakers headed into the NBA Draft Lottery this past Tuesday with only a 46.9 percent chance of keeping their top-three protected first-round pick. Fortunately, the results of the lottery came out better than expected with the team securing the No. 2 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft for the third straight year.
With disaster averted, the Lakers brass can look forward to draft day on June 22 with some promising young talent to evaluate beforehand. Although all signs point to Magic Johnson and company going with UCLA’s Lonzo Ball at second overall, it’s anything but set in stone with the team expected to do their due diligence during the evaluation process.
In this week’s Lakers Nation roundtable, we asked our panel of experts the following question:
Should the Lakers take Lonzo Ball at No. 2? If not, who should the team target in the NBA Draft?
Nick Torres (@Nickotee)
With the Los Angeles Lakers officially owning the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft many expect them to select Lonzo Ball, assuming the Boston Celtics select Markelle Fultz with the first pick. If that is the case, I could not agree more that Ball and the Lakers are a match made in heaven. Ball brings the swagger and personality that fits with Los Angeles and Laker vibe.
On the court, he would open up more opportunities for others and would fit seamlessly with Luke Walton’s system. With D’Angelo Russell moving to the shooting guard position, it lets him focus on doing what he does best, and that’s scoring the basketball. Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle will get open looks and be able to get higher percentage shots. The more think about Ball and the Lakers together, the more I fall in love with the idea.
While there are other good players that the Lakers will take a look at leading up to the draft, no other player, I believe, will make an immediate impact for the Lakers like Ball will. His potential is too much for the Lakers to overlook and that’s why I think he will get his wish granted and be a Laker.
Daniel Starkand (@DStarkand)
I think that Lonzo Ball is the right guy to draft at No. 2. Not only is he a Los Angeles native, but he is the perfect point guard for Luke Walton’s system.
Ball is the type of player that you look at the stat sheet at the end of the game, and he only took four shots, yet he made a bigger impact on the game than any other player. He likes to play up tempo and get his teammates involved, which is perfect when you put him with young, talented players that can score like D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, and Julius Randle.
This is all assuming that the Celtics take Markelle Fultz though, as if Fultz is available at No. 2 then I think he has to be the player the Lakers select.
Players like Josh Jackson, De’Aaron Fox and Jayson Tatum are all great players and worthy of going No. 2, but the fit with the Lakers isn’t quite as good as Ball or Fultz, so luckily the Lakers have the luxury of getting one of those two since they pick second.
Trevor Lane (@Trevor_Lane)
The Lakers were fortunate to land the second overall pick in the NBA draft this year, making it three seasons in a row that they will have had that honor. 2015 brought some suspense as a number of players were in the running, but in 2016 Brandon Ingram was a no-brainer. I expect that this year’s draft will be more like 2016 in that the Lakers will end up taking Lonzo Ball, who is the heavy favorite.
Ball is a true pass-first point guard, something Los Angeles currently lacks. He moves the ball well, often passing up looks for himself to find excellent ones for others. It may be cliche, but he does make his teammates better. His shot is unorthodox, and his father can be challenging at times, but the bottom line is that he is a very good basketball player, and the fact that what he brings fills a need is icing on the cake.
There is one caveat here, though: should the Boston Celtics pass on Markelle Fultz for some reason, the Lakers should take him regardless of whether Ball or anyone else is available. With very few holes in his game Fultz looks to be a star in the making, and while he arguably doesn’t fit quite as well as Ball does, that’s a minor concern when a potential franchise player is involved.
If Fultz is gone then, Ball is the way to go.
Corey Hansford (@TheeCoreyH)
Assuming Markelle Fultz is taken first overall by the Celtics, than I do believe the Lakers should draft Lonzo Ball second overall. But it is by no means a sure thing in my eyes.
In my opinion, Ball is the best fit for the Lakers and, in particular, Luke Walton’s offensive system. He is a tall, pass-first point guard who excels in the open court, has unlimited shooting range, and makes his teammates better. I believe his addition would be a major benefit to everyone on the Lakers roster including Brandon Ingram, D’Angelo Russell and Ivica Zubac among others.
That being said, I am a big fan of Josh Jackson and what he brings to the table, especially defensively which the Lakers are in sore need of. The same goes for De’Aaron Fox who despite shooting concerns, actually shot a higher percentage from the free throw line than Ball, which can be a better indicator of future shooting success.
All this is to say the Lakers have a lot of homework to do on these players and they will surely do it. I do believe Ball is the best fit, but the choice will ultimately come down to who the Lakers believe will be the biggest star and I have faith in their ability to choose right.