Although Lonzo Ball later served as a valuable trade chip in the Anthony Davis trade, the fact he got dealt proved the Lakers made the wrong decision with the No. 2 pick.
And as it turns out, Johnson had a ill-fated reason for bringing LaVar Ball’s eldest son to LA that will surely make Lakers fans livid.
LA passed over a number of future stars in the 2017 NBA draft
Let’s just say the 2017 NBA draft didn’t go as planned for several teams. After all, the Boston Celtics landed the best player of the entire draft…after trading down from No. 1 to No. 3.
Unfortunately for Lakers fans, instead of having Jayson Tatum as the centerpiece of their team, they have watched the talented wing develop into an elite star playing for their historic rival.
Of course, LA had a chance to make the former Duke standout the face of the franchise. Yet, the Lakers used the second pick on Lonzo Ball.
Although it would be unfair to call him a bust, there’s no doubt he hasn’t delivered on his draft pedigree. After all, he got traded after spending just two years in LA.
Meanwhile, a number of players selected well after Ball have become big-time contributors.
De’Aaron Fox, who went fifth overall, averaged 21.1 points and 6.8 assists last season. The dynamic guard has increased those marks to 23.7 and 7.6, respectively, through 39 games.
Since going 13th overall, Donovan Mitchell has become one of the top stars in the league. The Miami Heat got a steal at pick 14 with talented big man Bam Abedayo. John Collins, the 19th player taken in the 2017 NBA draft, has emerged as a rock-solid power forward for the Atlanta Hawks.
Lakers fans will be livid after learning the truth about why Magic Johnson drafted Lonzo Ball
While the fit between Lonzo Ball and the Lakers seemed logical from a basketball perspective, it turns out Magic Johnson had his sights set on the 6-foot-6 guard for an entirely other reason.
And thanks to Bill Oram of The Athletic, we now know exactly why the Lakers icon honed in on making Ball the No. 2 pick in the 2017 NBA draft.
“It was looked at from Magic and others’ perspective as being too good of a Hollywood story to pass up,” a league source familiar with the Lakers’ draft strategy preparation told Oram. “This has to work because it’s a perfect story. Because it’s Hollywood.”
And the unnamed source wasn’t the only person who shared that view.
“It was too good to be true,” another source close to the Lakers told The Athletic. “I think the Hollywood story was the worst thing that could have happened to him looking back. You have the most storied franchise and the franchise’s most storied player, arguably, proclaiming this guy to be the next big thing. Wow.”
Of course, Ball never lived up to the Hollywood story hype once he officially became a Laker. He averaged just 10 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 6.4 assists while shooting only shot 38% from the field and 31.5% from 3-point territory in 99 games with the team.
While Ball did factor into the Anthony Davis trade, Lakers fans should still be livid about the reason why he ended up in LA in the first place. If Johnson had simply taken Tatum or Mitchell, perhaps the team wouldn’t have needed to trade for Davis at all. Instead, Ball got shipped out of town in a monster package that brought back the All-NBA forward.
LaVar Ball’s eldest son could be back in LA sooner than later
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Lonzo Ball has managed to resurrect his career to some degree as a member of the New Orleans Pelicans. Still, he hasn’t become the superstar Magic Johnson envisioned when the Lakers made him the second player taken back in 2017.
And it sounds like the 23-year-old could be on the move again.
On Friday, longtime NBA writer Marc Stein reported via Twitter that the LA Clippers “are exploring trade routes” to acquiring Ball. However, considering the league’s trade deadline falls on March 25, they don’t have a ton of time to work out the parameters of a deal to bring LaVar Ball’s eldest son back to LA.
Will the Clippers succeed in upgrading their backcourt? Or could they get outbid by another team interested in securing Ball’s services?
We’ll find out soon enough.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.