The collegiate careers of arguably the two top prospects in the upcoming 2017 NBA Draft have come to an end. Markelle Fultz’s Washington Huskies failed to make the NCAA Tournament, and UCLA’s Lonzo Ball fell to the Kentucky Wildcats in the Sweet Sixteen last week.
With Fultz and Ball’s college days now behind them, the race for the No. 1 pick in the draft is underway. It seems to be a two-man race at this point with Fultz and Ball being neck-and-neck, but that could change in the coming months.
On Wednesday, Ball made a bold statement. The 19-year-old claimed he is the better player than Fultz, via ESPN:
“Markelle’s a great player, but I feel I’m better than him,” said Ball, who led the Bruins to a pair of blowout victories over Fultz’s Huskies this season.
“I think I can lead a team better than him,” Ball added. “Obviously he’s a great scorer — he’s a great player, so I’m not taking that away from him.”
The debate over who is the better player between the two collegiate stars and more deserving of the No. 1 overall pick in the draft will rage on from now until draft day on June 22. Many things can change over the next few months leading up to the draft that may benefit or hurt the draft stock of these two players.
The results of private workouts, things said by both players in the media and an in-depth analysis of the pros and cons of drafting both players as well as the fit with the team owning the No. 1 overall pick will help determine whether Ball or Fultz hear their name first on June 22.
The Los Angeles Lakers currently have a 19.9 percent chance of getting the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Ball, who has openly said it would be a blessing to be drafted by the Lakers, would like to stay in Los Angeles and may be at the top of the team’s draft board. Fultz may also get strong consideration from the storied franchise if they end up with the top pick or fall to No. 2 or No. 3.
At this point, the Lakers simply want to retain their pick as they’re in danger of losing it to the Philadelphia 76ers if it falls out of the top three selections. The NBA Draft Lottery is set to take place on May 16, and those results will weigh heavily on whether Fultz or Ball go No. 1 overall.