The Los Angeles Lakers may have a more difficult choice on their hands with the No. 2 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft than previously thought.
UCLA freshman phenom Lonzo Ball was widely assumed to be a Big Baller Brand shoe-in to get picked by his hometown team, but reports that he didn’t blow the Lakers away in his draft workout because he was out of shape have seemed to put his selection more in doubt.
Adding to that doubt is how well Dennis Smith, Jr.’s workout sounds like it went, according to Adam Zagoria of ZAGSBLOG, who reported that the Lakers were “very impressed” with what they saw from Smith, with one source adding that the Lakers “have some decisions to make” (h/t Honi Ahmadian of Lakers Outsiders).
Smith himself said that Lakers head coach Luke Walton called his group “the hardest competing group out of everybody they had,” and Mark Medina of the Southern California News Group reported that Smith posted a staggering 48-inch vertical when the team tested him.
For some context on how impressive that is, our young meme prodigy Grant Goldberg made this graphic:
So yeah, that’s pretty good.
All (due) praise to Smith aside, this doesn’t mean Ball getting selected is necessarily in jeopardy. Smith being impressive and Ball still being the better prospect can both be true.
It’s reportedly known that the Lakers want the rest of the NBA to be in the dark about who they’re picking, so all this could be smoke in order to make sure that a team that really wants Jackson or Smith has to try and trade up.
Alternatively, all of these reports could be accurate reflections of the Lakers’ thinking, and maybe that will really will lead to them picking another player besides Ball. Perhaps they would even trade down and take Smith (who is projected to go 10th overall by DraftExpress) and get an extra asset if they really like him.
We really won’t know until June 22, although it won’t stop everyone from trying to guess until then.
Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here, or listen to our latest Lonzo-centric episode below), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.