• Ryan Wheeler

Let Lonzo Be a Laker

Lonzo Ball told Stephen A. Smith that he would rather be a Los Angeles Laker than the #1 overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft. Lonzo is from Los Angeles, went to UCLA and his brothers are all committed to UCLA. His father, Lavar Ball, has been particularly outspoken about Lonzo being drafted by the Lakers. With the draft lottery in the books, the Lakers have the #2 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. In short, Lonzo Ball is all about Los Angeles and Los Angeles should be all about Lonzo Ball.

As a matter of perspective, I truly do not care that Lonzo Ball wants to be a Laker, I sincerely believe he will be the best version of himself with the Lakers. See, the NBA is all about fit; how a player fits into a particular organization and with the rest of the team. Scottie Pippen would probably not be a Top 50 All-Time player if he was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks, rather than playing for the Chicago Bulls. The right organization can make a player an All-Star and the wrong destination can ruin a career. Think of the desolation that was Dion Waiters in Cleveland with Kyrie Irving versus the paradise that is Waiters Island in Miami. In this case, the Lakers are the perfect organization for Lonzo Ball.

First, they play in the best possible system for a player like Ball. With constant ball movement and an emphasis on outside shooting, his strengths as a virtuoso passer and long-range bomber will be perfectly utilized. Scouts see a generational type of passer in Lonzo and coach Luke Walton’s uptempo system will give him the best chance to succeed. He can play next to another big guard who can pass and shoot in D’Angelo Russell as a devastating offensive tandem. They could form the next great guard combination with dazzling dribbling, prismatic passing and splendid shooting for the next near decade.

The new Lakers power structure will provide ideal role models and mentors for the young guard. Every pundit with a podcast or keyboard has been blasting Lavar Ball, Lonzo’s father, for his outlandish comments and actions. The culmination, to this point, has to be the $3 billion licensing fee he is requesting for his son to sign with Nike, Adidas or Under Armour. With longtime power agent Rob Pelinka as the new GM and Magic Johnson as President of Basketbal,l Lonzo will have two of the best business and basketball minds putting him on the right track. It has even been reported that Kobe Bryant wants to be part of the organization and his experience could be invaluable to Lonzo. Finally, the entire Lakers history and culture is replete with distinguished players through the eras that could take young Lonzo under their tutelage about succeeding as an NBA player.

I don’t just think that the Lakers need Lonzo at #2 in the draft, I think Lonzo needs the Lakers. Other Lottery teams with high picks and in need of a point guard are the Philadelphia 76ers, Sacramento Kings and Orlando Magic. All of those options would be dreadful destinations for Lonzo and I am even a Kings fan. In no way can I envision any of those organizations being the right spot for this young player, nor does any other draftee make sense for the Lakers. The match is clear, let’s just hope the Lakers don’t overthink this selection and give fans the pairing everyone can see needs to happen. Let Lonzo be a Laker.

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