(J Alexander Diaz/Lakers.com)
Lakers Draft Lonzo Ball with Second Overall Pick
Lonzo Ball is a Laker.
Sometimes, things just work out.
L.A. happened to buck the lottery odds to end up with the No. 2 pick in a year in which a local kid was sitting there for the taking.
Just like in 2003, when LeBron James went to his hometown Cavs, or 2008, when Chicago had the No. 1 slot in native Derrick Rose’s class, a local kid will start for the team he dreamed of starring for.
The 19-year-old called it a "dream come true" to be able to stay in Los Angeles and work with arguably the greatest point guard ever, Lakers president Magic Johnson.
“It’s crazy,” Ball told ESPN after being drafted. “I couldn’t ask for anything more. Just to be able to learn from him every day should be amazing.”
Rob & I were able to get our first choice this evening. Laker Nation get ready, we are off to a great start. Welcome to the team Lonzo Ball!— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) June 22, 2017
Ball, the Chino Hills native who excelled in one season at UCLA, heard Adam Silver say his name on Thursday evening at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, putting into reality a vision that he’s repeatedly said his father, LaVar, spoke into existence.
And, by the way, the person running the Lakers in 2017 happens to be the one Ball and his family idolized back in the day.
Magic Johnson was even the one who delivered the pick to the Lakers at the draft lottery.
“My dad loved him and loved the way the Lakers played,” Ball said of Magic after his pre-draft workout in L.A. “I kind of patterned my game after that. Magic Johnson is one of the greatest players to ever play … he’s the best point guard to ever play, so I can learn a lot of things from him.”
A First Team All-America selection and Pac-12 Player of the Year at UCLA, Ball average 14.6 points on 55.1 percent shooting and 41.2 percent from three with a NCAA-best 7.6 assists and 6.0 boards, 1.8 steals and 0.8 blocks per game.
With a pretty well-balanced skill set that includes finishing strong at the rim and hitting 3’s off the dribble or in spot up situations, Ball’s best trait is super obvious.
He’s an incredible passer.
So much, in fact, that he infects his teammates with the itch to move the ball just like he does. That’s not a common trait even amongst elite NBA point guards or ball-dominant wings. It’s not one that can be taught, but it is one that coach/pass-happy former player Luke Walton loves more than most.
Of course, Ball is not without weaknesses.
“You can always work on everything,” he said. “But for me, probably just strength, get stronger and the mid-game pull-up stuff.”
Getting stronger will help him to fight through the constant ball screens that get set on NBA point guards by bigs, and help him improve lateral quickness and explosion to switch onto bigger wings when needed.
We should remember: Ball is only 19 years old, and doesn’t turn 20 until next October.
There’s plenty of time for improvement, which will start quite soon as he takes the floor wearing purple and gold at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas (July 7-17).
But for tonight, at least, things are simple.
The Lakers think they found their point guard and leader into the future, and happened to grant a lifelong dream in the process.