The Los Angeles Lakers surprised everyone when they brought Kansas one-and-done wing Josh Jackson back for a quickly scheduled second private workout following 24-hours of rumors over whether or not they had promised to take him second overall in the 2017 NBA Draft.
It turns out these flurry of workouts aren’t a coincidence, but rather appear to be a larger, last-ditch effort by the Lakers to figure out which player they ultimately want to stake their future on.
Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times reports that “the Lakers are split over whether to use their No. 2 pick in the NBA draft on Ball or Jackson,” and that the team has “been having a healthy debate on which course to take because they are intrigued by the talents of both players.”
With all of the smoke over the last few days, it’s clear that the Lakers are at a fork in the road (or are just going to insane lengths to make us think they are).
Down one path is a commitment to a versatile wing pairing of Jackson and Brandon Ingram that the former said could be “really special,” and from the defensive switchability, athleticism and endless waves of length to come at opponents the two could offer it’s easy to see why.
Down the other road is a Ball-D’Angelo Russell backcourt full of shooting, ballhandling, off-ball skills, space and speed in transition, with more funky passes than even a 2016-17 Lakers big man can possibly drop. Ball himself feels like he and Russell could complement each other well.
The key thing to remember here is that there really doesn’t appear to be a bad option for the Lakers. They have the second overall pick in an absolutely loaded draft, with at least two players worthy of selection.
Whichever way the Lakers go will ultimately reveal a lot about how they want their team to look, but likely doesn’t change the direction. They want to go up, and either of these players can help take them there.
Here is an updating list of every player the Lakers have worked out or met with. Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here, or listen to our latest show on why Jackson could be the pick below), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.