By: Jason Gandhi
Lonzo Ball is down-to-earth and not very outspoken. His dad, Lavar Ball, is the complete opposite. With exalted expectations, outlandish statements regularly, and a lofty shoe price, Lonzo, and Lavar have dominated the sports talk the last few months. It is no secret that the Ball’s want Lonzo to go the Lakers in this year’s draft. Lonzo told multiple analysts he would rather play for the Lakers than to go #1 in the draft. He also will not work out for the Celtics, so that the Lakers have the highest chance to take him. That all sounds great… but does he really fit and do the Lakers want him? Here is why the Lakers should and shouldn’t draft Lonzo Ball:
Why They Should:
There is no question on Lonzo Ball’s talent. This article isn’t being written if not for Lavar and the Big Baller Brand fiasco. Lonzo is a perfect fit for the Lakers on a pure basketball level. He is a playmaker. He and D’Angelo Russell could form a dynamic backcourt together with both being able to run the point or play off-ball. D’Angelo Russell played off-ball the last few games of the season, one that included 40 points against the defending world champs. If the Lakers decide Lonzo is their guy, it brings a chance to “revive Showtime” and jumpstart the offense.
With Magic Johnson in the front office, it is assumed he would love to have “Showtime” back in Los Angeles. Magic was asked which player in the draft reminds him most of himself and he said, “That’s easy Lonzo Ball”. He is consistently creating open shots for his teammates, and his vision and creativity is what has people comparing him to Magic. Bringing that type of player in will help any team, because of the selflessness he plays with. It is hard to imagine another player in the draft that fits so well with the Lakers. The Lakers have two (hopeful) budding stars in Russell and Ingram, but also lots of good shooters to fill out their roster. It’s not just his passing though. He can shoot the rock efficiently as well. He ran the second-highest efficient offense in the NCAA last year. Ball was 45.6% on “catch and shoot” shots and shot 41% from 3 last year.
Why They Should Not:
The concern with Lonzo is defense and his dad. The publicity is nothing new for Los Angeles, but all of the headlines and statements from Lavar would be. When someone becomes a Laker, they know about the media and how public their life will be. What can be a red flag is when Lonzo has a bad game, will Lavar be able to keep quiet and not make a big deal about someone else making it happen? Back to on the court, the Lakers were not good
Back to on the court, the Lakers were terrible on defense last year. They had the 6th worst defense since 2000. Drafting Lonzo at #2 does not fix this problem. Lonzo and D’Angelo both do not have the “twitchiness” or the quick movements to keep up with the point guards in the league. Josh Jackson, De’Aaron Fox or if Markelle Fultz falls, all have shown that they are much better defenders. Watch the Sweet 16 game. De’Aaron pesters Lonzo all game long. The Lakers will be a defensive nightmare no matter who they draft, but drafting Lonzo definitely, does not take a step in the right direction. If defense wins championships, the Lakers can’t afford to have Lonzo on their team.
It is worth the risk. Ultimately, a team drafts the player, not the family. Although his defense is sub par, the energy and aura he would bring back to Los Angeles would be too great to pass on. If Coach Walton and the Lakers really want to “run-and-gun” like the Warriors, Lonzo needs to be the pick. He would be the best player available as well as fill a need. Lonzo Ball should and needs to be the #2 overall pick to the Los Angeles Lakers.