The 2017 Las Vegas Summer League turned into an entertaining exhibition for the Los Angeles Lakers, as the young core exploded and played in unison towards a championship. Lonzo Ball promptly earned the Summer League MVP honors, while Kyle Kuzma’s 30-point performance led to a Summer League Finals MVP.
The front office combination of Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka steadily envisioned Ball turning into the face of the franchise, as it came to fruition the night they drafted him with the No. 2 overall pick. Ball, along with his family, ideally wanted to remain in Los Angeles, giving him an opportunity to shine with his hometown team.
Throughout the draft process, many linked Ball to the Lakers as a lock, as a partnership in the making. It was during this time that Johnson and Pelinka were able to interview Ball, in order to understand his personality and what drives him. According to Shahan Ahmed of NBC LA, Johnson saw something in Ball that exuded a desire to become great:
Asked Magic Johnson why he put extra pressure on Lonzo Ball by saying, "Just leave me 1of my records"
MJ: "The great 1s want the pressure." pic.twitter.com/LhrawM82sL
— Shahan Ahmed (@shahanLA) July 18, 2017
The Lakers were sold on Ball as the No. 2 pick after his second private workout with the organization, according to Johnson. Thus far, Ball has lived up to the expectations that have been placed on him, with his two Summer League triple-doubles and his MVP performance.
Johnson has continually stated from the get go that he is envisioning big things for Ball, including at his introductory press conference when he wanted Ball’s jersey to one day hang in the rafters. The Lakers took the gamble in trading D’Angelo Russell because they understood that Ball could be the facilitating leader the Lakers need at the point guard position.
Ball has kept a rather composed approach when dealing with the media, which deserves recognition considering he has been in the limelight since his days at Chino Hills High School. With Lakers legend Kobe Bryant now in retirement, the UCLA product is lining up to be the next face of the franchise, focused solely on improving and winning basketball games.