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Lonzo Ball says he’d rather play for the Lakers than be the first overall pick

He also feels like he’s better than Markelle Fultz.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-South Regional-Kentucky vs UCLA Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers may not look like they have a great chance to keep their top-three protected first round pick in the 2017 NBA Draft right now, but if they do, they now know at least one of the top prospects hopes to end up in purple and gold.

During an appearance on ESPN’s Sportsnation, UCLA guard Lonzo Ball was asked by host Michelle Beadle if he would rather get drafted by the Lakers, or go first overall, and his answer is sure to excite plenty of people in Los Angeles.

"I'm going to go with the Lakers,” Ball said. “All my family is in L.A., so to be able to play in front of them, I think that would mean more to me."

Ball’s desires don’t technically matter, as he’ll have to play for whatever team drafts him if he wants to play in the NBA. However, his family’s public posturing has certainly been an interesting part of the pre-draft process thus far.

Ball and his family’s attempts to maneuver him to Los Angeles also may not come into play at all, given that the Lakers only have a 46.9 percent chance to keep their first-round pick that will be conveyed to the Philadelphia 76ers if it falls outside of the top-three.

If the Lakers do keep their pick though, Ball explained why he thinks they should take him over similarly heralded Washington guard Markelle Fultz.

"I think I can lead a team better than him,” Ball said. "I feel like I'm more of a true point guard, I like to get my teammates involved. Obviously he can too, but I feel like I can do it better."

That is technically not quite accurate, as Fultz did assist on 35.5 percent of his teammates baskets compared to 31.4 percent for Ball, according to KenPom. However, UCLA did have more talent that could create for themselves or make plays for others than Washington’s barren roster, which could account for those differences.

If the Lakers keep their pick they’ll certainly face a dilemma while deciding which player they want to select, but they at least now know one of them would relish the opportunity to put on a purple and gold uniform, even if how much that matters is up for debate.

Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here, or listen to our thoughts on Ball below), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.

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