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LaVar Ball is not afraid to make outlandish statements. But after Tuesday night’s NBA draft lottery, one of LaVar’s many ridiculed takes no longer sounds so outlandish.
LaVar has said with certainty that his son, incoming NBA rookie Lonzo Ball, “will” play for the Los Angeles Lakers. “My son will only play for the Lakers,” he said back in February on an Arizona radio show. He doubled down on the take more recently. “Oh, he’s going to be a Laker,” LaVar told ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne. “I’m going to keep talking about it until it happens.”
As it turns out, LaVar knew what he was talking about all along. He said he was going to “speak it into existence.” And he did.
The Lakers jumped up one spot in the draft at Tuesday’s lottery, and will pick second in June. That puts them in perfect position to take Lonzo. Former Washington guard Markelle Fultz is widely considered the obvious choice for the Boston Celtics at No. 1. Ball is, according to many, the second best player in the draft, and he and the Lakers would seem to be a match made in heaven.
In fact, Lonzo himself has said that he would rather go to the Lakers than be the top overall pick in the draft:
Ball grew up in Chino Hills, Calif., about 45 minutes outside of Los Angeles. He grew up watching film of Magic Johnson, a Laker great and now the team’s president of basketball operations. He attended UCLA, and has family in Southern California. Here’s what Lonzo told The Vertical in April about the prospect of playing for his hometown team:
“The Lakers are in L.A., and they’re close to home,” Ball told The Vertical. “This is where all my family is. Hopefully, they have a nice pick and they have a chance to get me. I want this to be realistic. Just being very family-oriented, to play in front of them would mean a lot to me. The Lakers are a young team and they have a lot of young talent.”
Even if LaVar hasn’t, Lonzo has made it clear that he’ll be happy wherever he goes. But the lottery made things easy for the Ball family. They likely won’t have to even consider other scenarios. Unless the Lakers find significant red flags in Lonzo’s game, there appears to be a pretty good chance that the kid who grew up watching the purple and gold will be wearing it come the fall.
Magic and Lakers GM Rob Pelinka will consider other options — Josh Jackson and De’Aaron Fox among them — but Lonzo-to-the-Lakers seems like the most likely scenario. Magic has said that LaVar’s antics won’t affect his evaluation of Lonzo, and Lonzo’s pass-first, up-tempo style would seem to be a good fit in head coach Luke Walton’s offense.
Now Magic and Pelinka just have to pull the trigger. If they do, Lonzo in L.A. will be all kinds of fun.
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