The Los Angeles Lakers used the second overall pick in this year’s draft to select UCLA’s Lonzo Ball, and not many are complaining about that selection after Ball took home the MVP award for the Las Vegas Summer League. Before the draft, Ball faced some competition from Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox, especially after Fox bested Ball head-to-head during the NCAA Tournament.
With Fox winding up in the clutches of the Sacramento Kings with the fifth pick, it appears that the rivalry between the two guards is destined to carry over to the NBA.
While many have weighed in on the Ball vs Fox debate, Lakers power forward Julius Randle is in something of a unique spot because he played his college ball at Kentucky and continues to support the Wildcats, including Fox, but is now teammates with Ball. Joe Mussatto of SEC Country asked Randle to give his opinion of the two guards while he was in Lexington for a youth basketball camp:
“Obviously De’Aaron’s a great player,” Randle said. “I loved him through the whole season and the whole draft process, but my point guard is Lonzo. I’m excited to play with him, excited to build chemistry throughout the season. Obviously De’Aaron is gonna have a great career. He’s gonna be an excellent player.”
Randle’s answer, or perhaps non-answer, had to be expected since he can’t definitively state a preference for either player without alienating a fan base that has supported him. He was complimentary of Ball in a follow-up question:
“He makes everybody better,” Randle said of Ball. “He’s a great player. He obviously can score, but he makes the game a lot easier for everybody. He makes the game very simple and I think the way he plays is contagious.”
Randle will likely be a restricted free agent next summer, and Ball’s ability to create open looks for teammates could result in career-highs for the bruising power forward, so it behooves him to do his best to mesh with his new point guard.
Ball and Fox didn’t meet in Summer League due to an injury to Ball, but whenever the Lakers take on the Kings their duel will be a major storyline. Just don’t expect Randle to speak negatively about either player.