The Los Angeles Lakers technically didn’t win the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday. The Boston Celtics did. But with the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft, the Lakers are all but guaranteed Lonzo Ball, if they want him.
And make no mistake: They want him.
“Yeah, I just don’t know how they pass on him,” CBS Sports columnist and TV analyst Gary Parrish said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “In fact, I think the best thing that happened for the Lakers is that they got the No. 2 pick, not the No. 1 pick. Because if you’re picking first overall, the reality is in NBA circles most people prefer Markelle Fultz to Lonzo Ball. But in Los Angeles, I think they prefer Lonzo Ball to Markelle Fultz.”
Ball, of course, is from California, starred at Chino Hills High School, and played college ball at UCLA.
“So rather than have to make that very difficult decision – do you pass on the local kid to take Markelle Fultz? – now the Lakers can just sit back, let the Celtics take him, and then Lonzo is sitting there waiting for them,” Parrish said. “Last night was a great night for the Lakers and a great night for the Ball family.”
The Celtics could certainly draft Ball, but Parrish thinks they’ll take Fultz.
“Danny Ainge didn’t tip his hand last night – and he won’t going into the draft,” Parrish said. “He might try to frame a possibility of him being really interested in Lonzo Ball to see if Magic and the Lakers will come up and give him something to move into that top spot. I don’t anticipate that happening, but there is a real incentive for Ainge not to tip his hand at all. But Fultz just makes so much sense there. He is not the consensus (top pick), but (he is) most people’s preferred top prospect in the draft.”
Fultz averaged 23.2 points, 5.9 assists, and 5.7 rebounds in his lone college season at Washington.
“He’s a 6-4 point guard, so he’s got good size for the position, he can play off the ball, Isaiah Thomas can play off the ball – so they can play together – he shoots it well from the perimeter, and he gets to the rim as well as anybody,” Parrish said. “He’s not a perfect prospect. I’m not taking about the next LeBron James. But with a lot of these prospects – even the elite ones, the lottery picks – you can find something obviously wrong with them.”
Ball, for example, lacks elite athleticism, while De’Aaron Fox struggles shooting from the perimeter.
“Fultz does not have an obvious weakness,” Parrish said. “He’s not a perfect player, but there’s no obvious flaw.”