The Los Angeles Lakers have held the No. 2 overall pick in the NBA Draft for three straight years, including the upcoming 2017 draft where the expectation is that they will take UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball. The problem for the Lakers is that they’ve already used the No. 2 overall pick on a point guard two years ago when they selected D’Angelo Russell out of Ohio State.
Russell’s rookie season had its bumps on and off the court, but in his second season he emerged as one of the Lakers’ most talented players. Of players that finished the season in L.A. (so, not Lou Williams), Russell led the team in points (15.6) and assists (4.8) per game. While many would assume Russell would be the point guard of the future in L.A., it’s more than likely that they add Ball to the backcourt mix in June, which would create an interesting dynamic.
According to reports, the Lakers have already received calls about Russell’s availability in anticipation of them selecting Ball, although there are no concrete reports about any real trade discussions happening. That said, if they take Ball, it would stand to reason that, at some point over the next two years, they will have to make a decision to move on from one of their two point guards.
How would Russell and Ball co-exist on the floor? That remains to be seen, but if Russell’s Twitter activity from late Tuesday night is any indication, he isn’t very interested in finding out as he liked (and later unliked) a tweet about how the Lakers shouldn’t draft Ball.
It’s understandable for Russell to feel this way, although liking tweets on the matter probably isn’t the best idea because, as you see, the internet always keeps receipts whether you try to take it down or not. Russell is one of the budding stars in this league and adding Ball — and the circus act that comes with him — to the mix would undoubtedly cause his production to take a hit.
Even if Luke Walton was committed to running two point guard lineups a good amount to give both players minutes, both Ball and Russell are at their best with the ball in their hands where they can create for themselves or their teammates.
The Lakers were fortunate to keep their draft pick this season, but the decision they make at No. 2 might not be as cut and dry as many believe. If they choose Ball, they could have to move Russell at some point and if he turns out to be the star he’s shown promise of being, they’ll look silly. On the flip side, if they passed on the hometown Ball and he goes on to great things, as his father insists he’s destined for, Magic Johnson’s front office will be panned for that choice as well.
The most likely scenario is that they take Ball and try to make it work, but it will take some sacrifices from both players to make that happen.