A Big Baller wouldn’t get passed over at No. 2, right?
The question hanging over the NBA Draft is whether teams, specifically the Lakers, will sour at all on Lonzo Ball because his father, LaVar, is a walking, talking media circus.
The first report this is a possibility came out this weekend from the Huffington Post’s Jordan Schultz, who tweeted the Lakers “would pass on Ball if NBA Draft was today” and LaVar is part of the problem.
— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) June 3, 2017
Lakers president Magic Johnson has publicly been supportive of LaVar’s antics, comparing him to Kardashian matriarch Kris Jenner in a positive way. But there does not appear to be a huge gulf between Lonzo Ball and those behind him. Kansas forward Josh Jackson and Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox, who dominated Ball and UCLA in the Sweet 16, are right behind Ball in draft forecasts.
For most players, it would be no shame to fall a spot or two in the draft, but it would feel catastrophic for Ball. LaVar has been pushing for months for the Lakers — the hometown team for the Southern California family — to draft Lonzo, and even the soft-spoken player was filmed celebrating when the Lakers got the No. 2 pick in the lottery.
“I know I must be a genius to plan it this well,” LaVar said after the lottery. “His number has always been No. 2, and guess where he’s going? No. 2. To the Lakers, baby.”
Lonzo is scheduled to meet with the Lakers on Wednesday and assuage any fears they have over him and his father. Lonzo would not work out for the Celtics, who have the No. 1 pick, but are widely expected to take Washington star Markelle Fultz.
The 76ers pick after the Lakers, and team adviser Jerry Colangelo weighed in on the Ball clan over the weekend.
“I think Ball is a terrific prospect and could have an outstanding NBA future,” Colangelo told the “Carlin & Reese” radio show on 94 WIP. “I think it’s going to be challenging with the people around him, without being specific.
“And yet, I don’t think teams should bypass the player because they have those concerns. At the end of the day, what wins in this league is talent, and this is a very talented young man.”
It still seems likely Ball goes to the Lakers at No. 2. Leaks like this are not uncommon with the draft now two-and-a-half weeks away. But the risk is there, and the stakes are high for Lonzo and LaVar.