2017 NBA draft grades: Lonzo Ball the clear philosophical fit for the Lakers
After finishing out another lackluster 82 games, the Lakers haven't had any problem generating headlines at the start of the offseason. On Tuesday, Los Angeles reportedly agreed to ship former second overall pick D'Angelo Russell and veteran big man Timofey Mozgov to the Nets for Brook Lopez and the 27th pick in the draft. Even with more rumors swirling about a potential Paul George acquisition, the team's focus now shifts to Thursday's draft and the No. 2 pick. There's no shortage of needs the team needs to address.
Last season, the Lakers also held the second pick in the draft, tapping Duke small forward Brandon Ingram to come aboard. The former Blue Devil got better as the season wore on, finishing with double-digit points in 16 of his last 17 games of the year. It's long been rumored the team will use the second overall pick this year on UCLA star Lonzo Ball, who's worked out with the team multiple times recently and has made his desire to play for Lakers very public.
Here's the full list of picks the Lakers hold in the 2017 draft, which will be updated with grades and analysis as each selection is made.
Round 1, Pick 2 (No. 2 overall): Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA
The Real Balls of Los Angeles is, well, real. The Lakers looked at Josh Jackson and De’Aaron Fox and came back to Ball. Pound for pound as prospects, the three aren’t far apart, but when it comes to philosophical fit, Ball was the clear choice. He’ll benefit from Magic Johnson’s tutelage and Luke Walton’s uptempo offense and have a great opportunity to be a difference-maker. As L.A. angles to land established stars, Ball’s development will be critical. He should be up for the task. LaVar, too. — Jeremy Woo
Round 1, Pick 27 (No. 27 overall): Kyle Kuzma, F, Utah
The Lakers were said to be high on Kuzma and covet his blend of skill and shooting ability. He’s more athletic than several of the other stretch-forward prospects in this range, and has some upside as a role player. He’s not an especially proven prospect and didn’t shoot that well from three at Utah last season, but teams think he can figure it out. If he does, he’s a nice fit for what L.A. is building. Lonzo Ball loves having shooters around him. - Jeremy Woo
Round 1, Pick 30 (No. 30 overall): Josh Hart, G/F, Villanova
Hart is a nice pickup for the Lakers, who also acquired the No. 42 pick after dealing down from No. 28 with Utah. The Jazz were likely concerned about the Spurs taking Tony Bradley at 29, and the Lakers benefit here. Hart is viewed around the league as an extremely safe pick, as an experienced player who guards multiple positions, makes winning plays and has improved the quality of his jump shot. He gives L.A. another quality young player for its project.
Round 2, Pick 12 (No. 42 overall via Jazz): Thomas Bryant, C, Indiana