What a week so far in the NBA, and the draft hasn’t even taken place yet! One thing is for sure — Thursday night is going to be fun. Make sure you catch all the rumors and live reaction on DraftKings’ Facebook Live on Thursday night starting at 6:30 PM EST.
This NBA mock draft series will be broken down into five parts — picks 7-10, picks 4-6, and then individual features on my projected No. 3, No. 2 and No. 1 overall picks. Each article will give a breakdown on the players I project will be drafted in that spot, as well as what their fantasy outlook would be if they were drafted in that position. The Los Angeles Lakers are on the clock!
With the 2nd pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, the Los Angeles Lakers select …
Lonzo Ball, Combo Guard, UCLA (Freshman)
2016-17 averages: 14.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, 7.6 assists, 1.8 steals, 41.2% 3-point FG
The NBA landscape is changing rapidly, and the Lakers are one of the teams at the heart of it. As of Tuesday afternoon, we weren’t sure where the Lakers stood with the No. 2 overall pick. Going against the grain, I never felt Lonzo was a sure thing, so I decided the Lakers would try a higher upside prospect in Josh Jackson.
Tuesday evening’s trade proved me completely wrong.
While trading D’Angelo Russell away to the Nets as the asset that rids themselves of Timofey Mozgov’s contract (less than a year after he was signed) might say more about the Lakers’ prospects of acquiring Paul George, it also speaks heavily to their draft intentions. Sending Russell (a ball-dominant guard that was the No. 2 overall pick two years ago) to Brooklyn almost certainly means Ball’s the pick unless Magic is throwing us a serious curveball.
We all know everything about his father, but let’s actually dive into Lonzo’s game.
Ball’s strengths are pretty clear. He’s a terrific pass-first PG with dazzling ability and vision. Although he handles the ball, he doesn’t pound it into the floor and really keeps it moving around. His passing can be contagious and can make a team start sharing the ball much more unselfishly. On top of that, at 6’6” he has a ton of size for a PG, which helps him see over the top and gain an advantage defensively. He’s also a very solid rebounder. He clearly has NBA range and is a pretty good shooter, but that can be a strength and weakness for him.
Overall, it’s a good thing that Ball can knock down tough/deep shots, but he also flings up some brutal attempts that he’ll need to cut out of his game. His form is pretty unique as well, which is a minor cause for concern. Despite his great handle and passing ability, Ball isn’t as creative of a scorer as you’d think. He can hit 3-pointers and use his size to finish around the rim at times, but he has a ton of room to grow as a scorer, particularly in the mid-range and getting to the hoop.
If both Ball and Brandon Ingram develop as the Lakers envision them, this would be a fantastic NBA duo. Both have elite size and skill and their positions and would be a nightmarish offensive combination. Both have the potential to shoot the lights out and kill you in the pick-and-roll game when playing to their potential.
With the departure of Russell, the Lakers are in desperate need of a PG, which could mean Lonzo starts right away. It’s still a mystery what the opening night lineup will look like for the Lakers, but Ball will be on the floor plenty because he makes his teammates better. His Jason Kidd-esque stat lines make Ball a very exciting fantasy option, even as a rookie.
Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter with comments or questions: @julianedlow.
For a breakdown of picks 4-6, click here.
For a breakdown of picks 7-10, click here.
For a breakdown of the No. 3 pick, click here.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jedlow) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.