Top-five 2017 NBA Draft picks Lonzo Ball (No. 2 to the Los Angeles Lakers) and De'Aaron Fox (No. 5 to the Sacramento Kings) already have quite a rivalry, dating back to their college days, when Fox starred at Kentucky and Ball dominated in his one year at UCLA.
In fact, the college rivals split their series last year, with Ball's Bruins winning in Lexington early in the season and Fox's Wildcats getting the best of UCLA in the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 round.
However, Fox decisively won the March Madness matchup, scoring a game-high 39 points in Kentucky's 86-75 victory over UCLA.
So, when Ball sat out Monday's NBA Summer League game against Fox's Kings, many questioned whether he was avoiding Fox, who had his number the most recent time the two shared a court. However, Fox told ESPN.com that he doesn't believe that's the case and said there's no reason to risk a serious injury over the summer:
"He's a competitor," Fox said of Ball. "If he's hurt, like people say, it's summer league, don't risk it. When I tweaked my ankle [in the third quarter], Coach took me out and said the same thing.
"No one is ducking anybody at the end of the day."
Fox scored 12 points in 20 minutes of court time before he left the game with an ankle injury of his own. Ball's Lakers held on for a 95-92 victory despite the absence of their top draft pick.
Fox said he isn't worried about not getting to play Ball and anticipates several epic showdowns against the Los Angeles point guard in the months and years to come:
"He didn't play, they beat us anyway," Fox said. "What would have happened if he would have played? If he had to sit out, he sat out. I mean, I sat out the second half."
"We are still going to play each other. We are both in the NBA for a reason."
Fortunately for NBA fans, Fox is absolutely right - the Lakers and Kings will meet up plenty in the coming years, as both squads are members of the Pacific Division, along with the Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns.
The Lakers are now without Ball and last year's No. 2 overall pick, forward Brandon Ingram, as both nurse minor injuries.
Though neither Ball nor Ingram's injury seems to be serious, the Lakers are exercising extreme caution with players they'll heavily rely on this upcoming season.
Meanwhile, the Kings will likely be equally careful with Fox as he recovers from his own ankle injury suffered in Monday night's game.