The Los Angeles Lakers drafting Lonzo Ball with the second overall may seem all but preordained, but according the Chris McGee of Spectrum Sportsnet, the team isn’t yet certain who they’ll go with.
"I absolutely do not think it's a foregone conclusion, I actually think it's probably 50/50, 60/40 in favor of Ball in the Lakers front office,” McGee said during an appearance on Locked on Lakers. “Guys love De'Aaron Fox in that front office, because what's there not to love? The kid is one of the best athletes in the draft. He's 6'4, I know he's skinny but he's got good length. [Kentucky Head Coach John] Calipari will tell you he's as fast as John Wall with the ball.”
Fox and Ball aren’t the only prospects the Lakers want to take a look at for the second overall pick, either.
“Josh Jackson they love too, and so do I. So there's three really good guys you're going to be looking at at number two,” McGee said.
Ball is near-universally regarded as the second-best player in the draft (he’s ranked second on Draft Express, while Jackson ranks third and Fox ranks fifth), but the Lakers front office wants to do their due dilligence before making a final decision.
"No one has ever come out in that front office and said ‘it's Lonzo,’ and they're not going to do that anyway, but people I talk to [say] without a doubt that those are the three guys they absolutely love,” McGee said, mentioning that Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka watched Fox light up UCLA for 39 points in the NCAA tournament, as well as interviewing him at the 2017 NBA Draft Combine.
"And he wowed them in Chicago, Luke (Walton) included, so they love this kid,” McGee said.
That “love,” however, doesn’t guarantee the Lakers will take Fox any more than the hype pointing towards Ball means he’ll be a sure thing to be selected second overall. Walton has said previously that he likes Ball’s game, a sentiment he’s reiterated to McGee.
“I've talked to Luke about Lonzo Ball [and he] loves him, absolutely loves him and has watched him play a few times,” McGee said.
With the Lakers obviously thinking highly of all three prospects, they’ll need to go through the pre-draft process before they make any final decisions.
"The workouts and those interviews are going to be huge, and Lonzo is going to have to have a great workout, and he's going to have to say the right things in the meeting, and they're going to have to get a great feel for him to be the guy,” McGee said. “I don't think it's just 'Lonzo, hey let's go.'"
Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here or listen to our latest episode featuring the above comments from McGee, as well as draft talk and Paul George discussion, below), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.