Whether or not playing in their hometown is an actual draw for NBA players has been a topic of debate for some time now.
On one hand, everyone remembers the homecoming stories that work out, like LeBron James (both times). However, many neglect to mention all of the players that have decided to pass on playing for their hometown franchise and the pressures and challenges that come with it, with Kevin Durant’s stiff-arming of the Washington Wizards coming to mind in recent years.
In the end, whether or not the idea of playing at home sounds appealing or not probably depends on the player. Lonzo Ball made it clear he was firmly in the camp that felt it was a positive based on he and his father’s posturing to get him to the Lakers last season, and it appears that type of mindset runs in the family.
LiAngelo Ball — who is eligible for the 2018 NBA Draft — made it clear during an appearance on ESPN L.A. Radio that he also wants to end up on the Lakers this summer when the draft roles around (transcript via Trevor Lane of Lakers Nation):
“Lakers is my priority, for sure. I want to play with my brother. Ever since I played with Zo, we went undefeated. Same thing will happen when we get older. We’re just going to get stronger and faster and better feel for the game. It will be a good outcome. … I’m willing to play for other teams. That’s fine if they pick me. My priority is the Lakers. I just want to play with my brother.”
LiAngelo might have an uphill climb to get there, as he is not listed as one of the top-100 NBA Draft prospects by ESPN, Sports Illustrated, or this guy I just asked in the hotel lobby I’m writing this from instead of searching for a third website.
Still, wanting to play with his brother is an understandable desire for several reasons. For one, as LiAngelo and LaVar have both now pointed out, Lonzo and his brothers have had a ton of success together!
What that doesn’t mean, however, is that their aforementioned success will translate to the NBA level, where you need, well, NBA talent, something that most don’t seem to think LiAngelo possesses.
Draft “experts” could be wrong, and certainly have before. However, given how many headaches the Lakers have gotten from LaVar when he had just one son in the building (and a son who was playing a ton of minutes, at that) it seems unlikely they’d want to see how he reacted if LiAngelo spent most of the year on the bench.
Or, to put it more simply: If LaVar was calling out Luke Walton for not playing Lonzo exactly the stints he thought would help his son get in a shooting rhythm, imagine the types of stuff he’d say if one of his sons straight up wasn’t playing.
Now maybe LiAngelo blows scouts away during the predraft process, or maybe the Lakers bring him in as a favor to the player they hope is their point guard of the future. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time an NBA team brought a player in for nepotistic reasons.
However, neither of those scenarios seem particularly likely, so like many other siblings around the world who grew up competing on the same teams, Lonzo and LiAngelo will probably have to get more used to playing for separate squads.
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