If you’ve been having daydreams about the Lakers and Paul George, that’s understandable. If you’ve been thinking about ways for the Lakers to try to get their hands on a second lottery pick this draft, I also would not blame you (even though that’s not very likely). But as we inch closer to Thursday’s NBA Draft, the focus will start to narrow on who the Lakers will select with their number 2 overall pick.
According to ESPN’s Chad Ford, it’s looking more and more likely Lonzo Ball will be that player. From Ford’s latest mock draft:
Sources in L.A. say that the Lakers have been moving closer and closer to selecting Ball in the past 48 hours. More than ever, he’s the heavy favorite to get his wish to play for his hometown team.
And then there’s this:
Sources: Lakers front office and Lonzo Ball's agent, Harrison Gaines, remain in discussions, but no guarantees made yet for No. 2 pick.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) June 19, 2017
For what it’s worth, I have also heard that while the Lakers selecting Ball is not a lock, they are leaning his way; that he is in the lead over other candidates in that spot with the main competition being Josh Jackson. This is information that has been reported elsewhere so I do not think I am breaking any news there, but I do find it interesting that in many ways the messaging behind the scenes is starting to provide clarity.
Also, from Ball’s side, it remains clear he’s angling to get to the Lakers. Beyond his public statements (and his father’s) about wanting to play for the Lakers his pre-draft process has been totally focused on LA:
Also: Lonzo Ball has yet to schedule any talks or meetings with other teams. Lakers remain the only team he's worked out for.
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) June 19, 2017
Whether that’s the smart move by Ball remains to be seen. Even though Ford’s sources tell him the Lakers are leaning towards Ball, he also previously went on record saying Ball should at least meet with other teams for no other reason than to avoid him slipping too far in the draft. It seems Ford is implying that without meeting with Ball and getting his medical information, teams may not have a good enough feel for him. Considering Ball’s status as one of the best prospects in this draft, I don’t know if I buy that fully, but it’s worth noting this opinion — which is an informed one — exists.
Lastly, what I find totally interesting about this entire process is how the Lakers have managed to 1. maintain that Ball is not a lock for their pick and 2. keep fans and media alike guessing as to what their intentions are in general — and doing both all while the noise surrounding Ball and push for them to simply select him has been thunderous. As SB Nation’s Tom Ziller wrote, I think we should appreciate how well the Lakers’ FO has handled it all.
In any event, we’re nearing the point where the Lakers will make their selection and, despite the windy road to get where we are now, it’s looking more and more like Ball will be the selection. Until we know for sure, though, I’ll go back to monitoring what happens with Paul George.