Even as UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball prepares to be one of the first players selected in the 2017 NBA Draft, he is generating far fewer headlines than his outspoken father, LaVar.
LaVar has feuded with Charles Barkley and LeBron James and has said he could beat Michael Jordan in a game of one-on-one – an absolutely ludicrous statement for anyone to make.
However, on Thursday, Lonzo managed to make a headline of his own when he was interviewed by SportsNation.
When asked whether he’d rather be the No. 1 overall pick or play for the Los Angeles Lakers, who will likely be drafting in the No. 3 spot, Ball gave a surprising response, saying playing for the Lakers would be more important to him (via CBSSports.com):
“I’m going with the Lakers,” he said. “All my family is from L.A. so to be able to play in front of them, I think that would mean more to me.”
Ball and his family are from Chino Hills, a city about 45 minutes east of Los Angeles, so it does make sense that he’d want to play close to home. However, being the No. 1 overall pick means more prestige, more money and more endorsement deals to start his career.
Perhaps Ball won’t need help with the endorsement deals, but the cache that comes with being the No. 1 overall pick is much better than what comes with being selected No. 2 or No. 3 overall.
Of course, things could work out perfectly for Ball – after all, the draft lottery could end up with the Lakers picking first, which would be the best of both worlds for the UCLA star.
During his one season at UCLA, Ball, a 6’6″ point guard, averaged 14.6 points, 7.6 assists and 6.0 rebounds per game. The Bruins entered this year’s NCAA Tournament as a No. 3 seed and made it to the Sweet 16 before falling to the Kentucky Wildcats – a team that sported potential early picks like Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox.
Currently, the Brooklyn Nets, at 19-60, have the worst record in the NBA, “leading” the race for the No. 1 pick by three games over the 22-57 Phoenix Suns. The Boston Celtics, of course, have the right to swap first-round picks with the Nets this year, and will certainly do so.
The Lakers, meanwhile, are right on the Suns’ tail, sporting a 23-55 record with four games remaining on their regular-season schedule. If the Lakers’ pick ends up outside the top three, though, they’ll have to send it to the Philadelphia 76ers.
If that happens (and there’s a very legitimate chance it could), Ball’s dream of suiting up for the Lakers would be all but dead.