The Los Angeles Lakers lucked out when they kept their top-three protected first-round pick in the 2017 NBA Draft Lottery Tuesday, and they might be in for a further bit of good fortune on draft night.
It’s widely presumed that the Boston Celtics will take Markelle Fultz with the first-overall pick on draft night, and according to Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report, that could be exactly what the Lakers hope will happen.
Ding reports that “the Lakers went into the lottery Tuesday with the idea at this early stage that Ball might have the slight edge on Fultz and the others,” although he did add that the team plans to do their due diligence in evaluating other prospects.
The draft process still has to play out, and there is a chance the Lakers could be wowed by another prospect in individual workouts like when D’Angelo Russell used the sessions to catapult past Jahlil Okafor, but Ball ending up on the Lakers seems like all but a foregone conclusion.
Ball is nearly universally regarded as the second-best prospect in the draft by most outside observers, and if the Lakers are giving him a “slight edge” heading into the process and Ball doesn’t even work out for other teams, it’s hard not to see Ball staying in Los Angeles after his prolific year at UCLA.
Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here or listen him chat with Mike Prada of SB Nation about what keeping the second-overall pick means for the Lakers below), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.