Some of the best players in NBA history have worn the purple and gold Los Angeles Lakers jersey, beginning with Jerry West and Elgin Baylor in the 1960s, and then players like Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem-Abdul Jabbar, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Shaquille O’Neal and most recently Kobe Bryant.
Since Bryant retired at the end of the 2015-16 NBA season, the Lakers have been looking for that new transcendent player to take over that role as the face of the franchise.
The Lakers have held lottery picks in the last four drafts, taking Julius Randle with the seventh pick in 2014, D’Angelo Russell with the second pick in 2015 and Brandon Ingram with the second pick in 2016.
While all those young players have shown promise, none have quite taken over that role as the face of the franchise and developed into an All-Star caliber player.
The Lakers once again held the No. 2 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, and they decided to select a hometown product, UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball.
Johnson, who now leads the Lakers front office as the president of basketball operations, said at his introductory press conference Friday afternoon at the Lakers practice facility in El Segundo that he believes Ball is the right guy to take over and be that face of the Lakers, via Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters:
Magic welcoming Lonzo: "Here to welcome the new face of the lakers. The guy who I think will lead us back to where we want to get to."
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) June 23, 2017
Ball will likely come in a be the team’s starting point guard right away, with Russell being traded to the Brooklyn Nets.
He led all NCAA players in assists last season in his only year at UCLA, so Ball has proven that he is capable of making all his teammates better, much like Johnson did when he was leading the “Showtime” Lakers in the 1980s.