For the majority of the year, Washington’s Markelle Fultz and UCLA’s Lonzo Ball have been viewed as the top prospects in the 2017 NBA Draft class. The fact that both wound up in the Pac-12 only served to heighten a potential rivalry between the two.
As it stands now, they are still believed to be the likely first two picks in the draft. If that were to happen they would wind up on opposite sides of the most famed rivalry in NBA history, the Lakers vs. the Celtics.
Fultz recently worked out for the Lakers and afterwards, he spoke about his budding rivalry with Ball and was open about his desire to be better via Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters:
Markelle Fultz on rivalry with Lonzo Ball: “Stepping on the court, I’m trying to beat him in everything that I do…" pic.twitter.com/xXh0AaSGy0
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) June 15, 2017
These days the NBA is doesn’t have much in terms of true rivalries when it comes to players. Because of the AAU circuit, most top players grow up knowing and playing with or against the other top players for years and form friendships.
Hearing something like this from Fultz is a breath of fresh air and shows his competitiveness. Fultz wants to be the best and Ball is threatening that so he wants to show that he is the top player in this class.
The two matched up only once in college as Fultz missed the second game between the teams due to injury. In that one showdown Fultz finished with 25 points, six rebounds, five assists, and three steals while Ball basically matched him with 22 points, six rebounds, five assists, and four steals.
Who ultimately becomes the better player between the two won’t be realized for years, but this certainly has the makings of the NBA’s next great rivalry.