MANILA, Philippines – Once the smokescreen of other prospects getting picked by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2017 NBA Draft passed, and UCLA’s Lonzo Ball was selected as expected, the unapologetically boisterous LaVar Ball made yet another bold claim.
“Lonzo Ball is gonna take the Lakers to the playoffs his first year. Come see me when he does. I’ll have another hat on that say, ‘I told you so,’” Lavar said on ESPN’s NBA Draft program.
The Lakers haven’t made the NBA Playoffs since 2013, a once inconceivable thought for a franchise with the second most championships (16) and most finals appearances (31) in NBA history.
But the Lakers, under new leadership with Showtime patriarch Magic Johnson taking the helm, is hoping a more successful era is set to unfold in the City of Angels, with Ball in control of the offense as Los Angeles’ main playmaker.
And for the former Bruins star’s part, he isn’t backing away from the challenge of living up to his father’s prediction.
“Yeah,” was Ball’s answer when asked about whether or not he can bring the Lakers back to the playoffs during a conference call. “I’m very confident in my game.”
Ball is no stranger to turnarounds. The season before the California native arrived at UCLA’s campus, the Bruins went 15-17, but improved to 31-5 the year after and made it all the way to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.
With Ball, the Lakers are getting someone who averaged 14.6 points, 7.6 assists, and 6.0 rebounds a game in his lone college season. To make matters more interesting, he will learn under the guidance of Johnson, arguably the greatest point guard in NBA history.
“I don’t think there’s one thing you can learn from him. Just everything he’s going to teach me is going to be useful. Obviously he’s the best point guard to ever play, so I’m looking to go in there and just learn from day one,” Ball said during his media rounds.
The Lakers have an interesting young core, which includes Ball, last year’s second overall pick Brandon Ingram, and young studs in Julius Randle and Fil-Am Jordan Clarkson. Of course, there’s also the realistic chance of perennial All-Star Paul George joining the roster sooner than the summer of 2018, when the incumbent Pacer becomes a restricted free agent.
When asked if Ball’s style of play will stay similar to what he showed while at UCLA, he left no room for concern.
“Definitely. That’s how I’ve played my whole life. It’s been working for me,” he stated.
And in terms of pressure, Lonzo echoed LaVar’s belief – that basketball is for entertainment, with no room for worries.
“I really don’t believe in pressure on the basketball court. For me it’s just fun, what I love to do.”
LaVar talked Lonzo becoming a Laker into existence, and he might just do the same about next year’s playoffs. – Rappler.com
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