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NBA Draft Rumors: Lakers don't see Lonzo Ball as their 'savior’

The team isn’t solely focused on the hometown product.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-South Regional Practice Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers and Lonzo Ball seem like a perfect fit in many ways. The Southern California (Chino Hills) native who went to UCLA to continue starring locally ending up in the purple and gold would be the type of story you mostly only see in sports movies, not to mention that Ball is a highly talented player at a position of need for the Lakers.

There are complications, however. The Lakers have just a 46.9 percent chance to keep their top-three protected first-round pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, and must convey it to the Philadelphia 76ers should it fall to fourth overall or below in the lottery.

Even if the Lakers keep their pick, there is no guarantee they decide to select Ball, who is just one of four players they’re considering in the top-three selections, a list that also includes Markelle Fultz, Josh Jackson, and De'Aaron Fox.

According to Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report, while the Lakers like Ball, they aren’t going to be a slave to the almost-irresistible homecoming narrative selecting him would create:

As neat of a match as it would seem to be for high-profile local product Ball to land with the Lakers, as he and his father are publicly pining to happen, the Lakers most definitely have not put Ball on some pedestal as their potential savior, according to sources. He is a strong contender to be at the top of their list after all the workouts are done (assuming they keep their pick), and Lonzo's court vision impresses them a lot more than LaVar's presence scares them. But Fultz also is a tantalizing option, as is the upside Jackson and Fox each offer.

The Lakers not seeing Ball “as their potential savior” shouldn’t be a surprise, nor necessarily any indictment of his level of talent. Ball is one of the most promising prospects to enter the league in years, but he’s still just a teenager. Unless they’re LeBron James, teenagers don’t just turn franchises around immediately, no matter how many times their fathers claim they’re better than Stephen Curry (yes that actually happened).

Rob Pelinka, Magic Johnson and the rest of the Lakers front office also still have to see if they can keep this pick before any of these hypotheticals over who they’d select with it end up mattering. That being said, it’s still a good thing that the franchise is surveying all of its options, rather than hitching its wagon to a teenager months before having to actually make such a decision.

Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.

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