The Los Angeles Lakers have been busy preparing for the upcoming NBA Draft, working out nearly 100 players as they get ready for the big night on Thursday. With the second and 28th overall picks in their possession, Los Angeles figures to add a pair of young, talented players to help their rebuilding squad.
Rightly, most of the attention has fallen on the second pick, where they will be choosing from prospects like Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson, De’Aaron Fox, and Jayson Tatum.
The Philadelphia 76ers completed a big trade with the Boston Celtics in order to land the first pick, and they will use it to select Markelle Fultz. Apparently, that won’t bother the Lakers much, as according to Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report, they have come to believe that Ball is the better player between the two:
The Lakers’ suspicion that Ball might wind up being better than presumptive No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz—and perhaps the Boston Celtics’ suspicion that Jackson or Duke forward Jayson Tatum also could be better than Fultz—will make the top of this draft one to be analyzed for years […] The Lakers got a firsthand look at Fultz in a workout Thursday, so the fact that they are leaning toward Ball (even if Fultz was available) as this week began is telling.
This is certainly an interesting turn of events, as the Lakers were able to work out Fultz last week and rumors indicated that Magic Johnson loved what he saw and even attempted to trade up to the first pick in order to land him.
If those rumors are true, then this sudden switch is likely due to the fact that the Lakers now know for certain that Fultz will not be joining their team.
With Ball looking more and more likely as the second pick, it makes plenty of sense to make it known that he’s the one they prefer anyway. Boston essentially did the same thing when Danny Ainge announced that they still believe they will get the player they would have taken first with the third pick.