Since the Los Angeles Lakers were awarded the second overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, they have been linked to Lonzo Ball. The UCLA guard has been the consensus number two overall pick for some time and his adamant desire to join his hometown squad has made him even more of a likely target.
However, it’s not a foregone conclusion that LA could go in a different direction. They are doing their due diligence with draft workouts, whether they are already sold on Ball or not. And it seems like not everyone is sold on the point guard.
According to ESPN’s Chad Ford, there is a “genuine split” within the Lakers’ organization on Ball being the best choice (Insider only):
“I also think it reflects a genuine split within the organization about whom the best long-term candidate is. Ball was a clear favorite of the prior administration run by Mitch Kupchak and still has his fans within the organization. But the Lakers also took note on how Fox outplayed Ball in their head-to-head matchup in March. And Jackson has always been another favorite in the organization.
While the feeling is that Ball is a good fit with the Lakers offensively, Fox and Jackson are gritty defenders and vocal leaders on the court, something the Lakers feel the team is lacking. Jackson, in particular, seems to have some strong supporters in the organization who think defense should be the priority.
I still think they lean toward Ball, but I’d put the odds somewhere like this: Ball 40 percent, Jackson 35 percent, Fox 25 percent.”
This is certainly an interesting outlook. We’ve seen a few reports about the Lakers not being sold on Ball just yet, albeit from not-so-reliable sources. Ford, however, is more clued into the draft process making this a more legitimate report.
The report makes sense, too. The Lakers have had an awful defense over the past few seasons and their current young core hasn’t done enough to diminish fears that they’ll never be able to become plus defenders. From that perspective, Jackson (and to a lesser extent, Fox) does make sense as options for the Lakers.
That said, the Lakers have publicly been fairly open about Ball. While they haven’t openly admitted that they are selecting the freshman guard, they have talked a lot about him and his family and how they would fit in LA. Moreover, using a small game sample of Fox vs. Ball is a rudimentary way of draft analysis and it’s unlikely (or so we hope) that the Lakers put so much impetus on it.
The draft is about two weeks away and there will likely be more reports regarding Ball’s chances of being a Laker until then.