Lonzo Ball’s time with the UCLA Bruins has come to an end. Following the loss to the Kentucky Wildcats in the Sweet Sixteen, Ball announced his intentions to leave school and enter the 2017 NBA Draft.
With Ball now officially one of the top prospects in the upcoming draft, the narrative changes to whether he and his controversial father, LaVar, will attempt to force him to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Although speculation surrounding Ball’s immediate future will continue to swirl leading up to draft day on June 22, the UCLA star admitted he would like to play for the Lakers, but will play for any NBA franchise on ESPN’s First Take, transcription via Timothy Rapp of Bleacher Report:
“At the end of the day, I’ll play for any team,” he said on the show. “The NBA is the NBA, but it would be a blessing to be able to play for the Lakers just because it’s in L.A., I’m from here, my whole family’s here.”
Nine games remain in the 2016-17 NBA season for the Lakers. The team is currently sporting the second-worst record in the league at 21-52. Per Tankathon, this gives them a 55.7 percent chance of keeping their pick rather than being forced to give to the Philadelphia 76ers if it falls out of the top three selections. Los Angeles has a 19.9 percent chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.
The Lakers are in danger of losing their first-round draft pick or at the very least hurting their odds with less than 10 games remaining. The Phoenix Suns have almost an identical record in comparison to their Pacific Division rivals with only one more win as of Mon. March 27.
If the Lakers end up having a better record than the Suns, the team’s odds of retaining their pick drops to 46.8 percent. The Brooklyn Nets are currently ahead of both teams in the running for the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft with only 16 wins on the season thus far.
Along with Ball, there are a few other notable players that are currently in contention to be taken with the top pick on June 22. Markelle Fultz (Washington), Malik Monk (Kentucky), De’Aaron Fox (Kentucky), Josh Jackson (Kansas), and Jayson Tatum (Duke) could all make a case for the No. 1 overall pick, but it may come down to Fultz, Jackson or Ball.