Despite most expecting the Los Angeles Lakers to ultimately take Lonzo Ball with the No. 2 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, more and more reports continue to surface that the team may not be as set on the UCLA product as many think.
Before the Lakers worked out Ball Wednesday, a report from Chad Ford of ESPN outlined why some among the team’s brass ultimately would rather go with Jackson, with Ford saying he has a 35 percent chance to be selected, compared to the 40 percent chance he gave Ball and 25 percent chance he gave De’Aaron Fox.
“Jackson has always been another favorite in the organization,” Ford writes. “While the feeling is that Ball is a good fit with the Lakers offensively, Fox and Jackson are gritty defenders and vocal leaders on the court, something the Lakers feel the team is lacking. Jackson in particular seems to have some strong supporters in the organization who think defense should be the priority.”
Defense should almost certainly be a priority for the Lakers, who ranked last in the league in defensive efficiency last season, giving up 110.6 points per 100 possessions. Defense is also something Jackson — the third-ranked prospect in DraftExpress’ top-100 — looks as set to provide from day one as any rookie can be.
However, no first-year player is going to fix the Lakers’ defense. Yes, locking up a pairing of rangy defenders in Jackson and Brandon Ingram could be a boon for the team down the road if they ultimately move more towards a Golden State Warriors-style switch everything defensive scheme, but would that opportunity outweigh the star potential shown by Ball?
The Lakers front office will have to decide that for itself, and no matter who they choose between Ball, Fox, or Jackson, it will provide a fascinating window into what type of team the Lakers want to be down the road.
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 and listen to our instant reaction to the Lonzo Ball workout below), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.