As we approach the 2017 NBA Draft, it appears as though the odds-on favorite to be selected by the Los Angeles Lakers is still Lonzo Ball. The UCLA guard has been linked to the team for months, now. Despite indications that the Lakers may not be quite sold on his being better than other prospects, it still seems like he will be the team’s selection.
Ball worked out for the Lakers last week and raised eyebrows in his claim that the team needed both a point guard and leader. Coupled with claims that he and the Lakers’ current point guard D’Angelo Russell may not work together, Ball’s statement fed into the narrative that Russell’s time in LA would come to an end with Ball’s selection.
Lonzo doesn’t buy into that narrative, however, as he explained later in an ESPN feature with Jeff Goodman that the two guards could form a great partnership together.
“I think we could play pretty well,” Ball said. “I think if you saw the last twenty games he was actually doing very well. I feel he’s more of a two-guard than a point guard and I think he can complement my game just on the fact that he can score and he can shoot. So all he has to do is run the floor and I can get the ball to him, and he can put it in the basket.”
The labels of point guard and shooting guard are going to follow Russell and Ball for some time but really they’re just labels. Both players have the ability to play with the ball in their hands as the primary initiator of the offense and both can play off-ball as a spot-up shooter and secondary playmaker. Russell will likely be better at getting to the rim but Ball will likely be better at setting up his teammates.
The fit issue is not overly concerning on the offensive end of the floor but defensively, it could be a problem. That said, Russell and Ball’s fit is hardly good enough reason not to draft Ball or good enough reason to trade Russell this early in his career.